This is the first ever post, that I have spent days agonising over. Mulling it over in my head, thinking about what angles I’d take, what I want my message to be. Every other post I have ever written, I have just sat in front of the computer, written what’s in my heart, read it through once, then hit ‘post’. No time for second guessing, no regrets. Why is this post so different? Because it has really made me think about who I am, who I want to be, and what I want my blog to be about.
Lately there have been struggles I have been facing within my on-line community. Nasty words have been written, I have felt attacked and ostracized. Basically, I feel that I have been bullied, by people I once considered my friends. When this first all blew up, I had grand plans of writing a post about bullies, and people hiding behind computer screens, blah blah blah. But then I realised that is not what my blog is about. This blog is about me, about my experiences, and most importantly what I have learned and how I have moved on. I will not use it as a passive aggressive way to get back at people.
The truth is, this whole episode has actually lead me to think about my past actions, in questioning why some people can turn a blind eye to such attacks, I have realised that I have done the exact same thing, many many times. I am very ashamed to admit, that I have witnessed subtle attacks on people, nasty comments, little digs, I have witnessed these things and I have never spoken up, and at times have giggled along with the perpetrators behind the victims backs.
It hurts to have to admit this, to think that I am that kind of person. However, I really believe that I am not alone. That many people reading this have been guilty of the exact same thing. Knowing something was wrong, but keeping quiet all the same. Choosing to keep the peace with the ‘bully’ as opposed to standing up for someone who has found themselves on the outer. But why? Why do good people choose the side of a person who is causing pain or humiliation to someone else?
When I think about it, this has been going on for so long, particularly in circles of women. Think back to high-school, and the popular or ‘cool’ group of girls- were they the nicest girls, the kindest girls, the girls who would do anything for anyone? Or were they the ‘bitchy’ girls, the girls that could cut a person down with one nasty comment? It seems, quite often, the latter. How do they become so popular? Because everyone is scared to stand up to them. Because they know, if they stand up to these ‘bullies’ when they pick on someone else, then they will be the ones to be picked on. The ones called nasty names, lies spread around about them, ‘kicked out’ of the group, lose friends. So, of course it is easier to just stay quiet. Perhaps even feel smug that they are not the ones being picked on. That they are ‘friends’ with the bully, so therefore immune to such treatment.
Does this ring bells with anyone? And more disturbingly, can anyone identify with this situation as an adult? I seem to have witnessed it mostly in the online community; forums, facebook, blogs, but I imagine that it occurs everywhere, in the work place, sporting groups, social groups etc. People think that if they just stay quiet, don’t cause any trouble, turn a blind eye to behavior they may not agree with, then everything will be fine. And by ‘people’, I mean me. I thought that. I allowed people to be disrespected, to be laughed at, at times even (the written equivalent of) verbally attacked. And I said nothing. I went along with it. I let the bullies think that their behavior was OK and acceptable. Hence, I am just as bad. Every single person who doesn’t speak up, who lets bad behavior slide is just as bad. Because if we all stood up, if we all questioned why a person was treating someone else with such contempt, then the bullies would lose their power. They would be the one on the outer, they would have to actually think about their actions, and how it affects other people, and how it makes people feel. Every time no one says anything, then their behavior is validated. “It’s OK to treat people like this, because I get away with it. ”
I know the majority of my followers are mothers- Are these the kinds of values we want to instill in our children? “When someone says or does something you know is wrong, just turn a blind eye honey, don’t cause trouble” “It’s better to be friends with the bully, than be on the receiving end” ?? Hell no. I want my daughter to be a strong, confident, independent woman, who stands up for what she believes in, who wont enable bullies to continue bullying. I will be her good example.
I am ashamed that it has taken me to be on the other side, to be the ‘victim’ , to come to this realisation. Very ashamed, and I want to offer my most sincere apology to all of those people I silently witnessed be bullied in one way or another. I promise that I will not enable that kind of behavior ever again, and that I will raise my daughter to be a kind, strong woman, who believes in herself enough to have the courage to stand up and speak out for what she knows is right. xx