Think before you share: Cyberbullying

I wrote this blog post in 2015. Even four years later, I think about this video and the post I wrote about it. It is important enough that I want to repost it as I begin this new blog.

I lived the nightmare that I described. It didn’t just make me stronger and smarter, but it made me a more kind, understanding, and forgiving person.

Choose kindness.

“You’re looking at a woman who was publicly silent for a decade. Obviously, that’s changed, but only recently.”

Okay, so obviously I have not been silent for over a decade. I know my story doesn’t even compare to Monica Lewinsky. I cannot imagine the pain that she has lived with for the last twenty years. How she found the strength to live through it all is truly inspiring. The entire country made her a villain, and she was one of the most public non-terrorist villains of our time. She made a mistake and that mistake defined her for a large portion of her life.

That would be anyone’s nightmare.

If you don’t think it would be yours, try it. Go create a website and publish two things 1. Your biggest secret and 2. Your biggest regret in life. Then go share that website with all your friends, family, coworkers, and a few strangers. While you are at it, if you are married make sure your spouse shares it with everyone he works with and his family. Encourage them to spread it to their spouses and friends as well. Make sure that you have a large comment section where people can leave hateful comments shaming you. After your secret and regret is out there for everyone to see look around you and see who is still there. It is a lonely existence, but the people who are still there, don’t let them go.

I love this Ted Talk. It speaks to an aspect of our society that isn’t really discussed. Everyone shares the latest gossip either about a coworker or a celebrity. When information is put on the internet we think it is okay to make our own judgements, comments, and spread it. You don’t know or care who the person is, because to you it is just a name, a horrible act, and a picture. You don’t know how that person is suffering. Your actions are making that person’s suffering even worse.

It is really easy to tell someone who is suffering to “brush it off” and “just ignore it.” But when you know that there are dozens of secret conversations behind your back, you can’t help but get a degree of paranoia. When you know you can see some of the content of those conversations in just a few clicks, it is hard to resist even when you know the pain you will feel when you see them.

If you have made it to this point in the blog, please take 20 minutes and watch this Ted Talk. Next time you are about to pass judgement on someone for their past mistakes, take a look at your own life. That hateful comment you are about to leave or that rumor you are about to spread may be the difference in that person getting the help they need or taking their own life. Be a support and stop using the internet for hateful words and rumors. Keep sharing funny cat videos and stories of brave acts. Just because it is on the internet does not give you the right to share it or make your own judgements. There are real people behind the screen, capable of making mistakes…. just like you.

“it was easy to forget that that woman was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken.”

Lift people up, don’t tear them down.

“Cruelty to others is nothing new, but online, technologically enhanced shaming is amplified,uncontained, and permanently accessible. The echo of embarrassment used to extend only as far as your family, village, school or community, but now it’s the online community too. Millions of people, often anonymously, can stab you with their words, and that’s a lot of pain, and there are no perimeters around how many people can publicly observe you and put you in a public stockade. There is a very personal price to public humiliation, and the growth of the Internet has jacked up that price.”

Cyberbullying isn’t just something that happens on instant messenger or on the Facebooks of middle school and high school students. This is a very real issue that is prominent all across the internet and it is not limited by age or maturity level. Think before you judge. 

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