I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was bullied as a child. For years I was called fat, a tub of lard, and all sorts of other creative things because I was a little bigger than my peers. One day all the kids on my bus decided to lean back and forth when I got on so it looked like I was so heavy that I made the bus sway. It hurt exactly like you would think it would, but the upside was that at home I was free from it. There was no Facebook, no cell phones, no internet. In a lot of ways, I was lucky that I grew up in the early 90s with an unlisted home phone number.
The technology we have today has empowered us, both old and young, and not always in positive ways. It has given us a sense of security, of authority to judge others even when it may not be appropriate. It has given us all an opportunity to share our opinions, often anonymously, regardless of the detriment.
It has given us cyberbullying.
Some of you may think that we’re making something of nothing, but many of you reading this, teenagers and adults alike, have experienced it first-hand. Someone disliked something you wrote and fired back a nasty comment. Someone saw a picture of you with your family and felt the need to comment on your hair, or makeup, or dress size. Or even worse, there was no real reason for the comment at all. People feel like it’s okay to tell someone else that they aren’t pretty enough, aren’t thin enough just because they can.
We are no strangers to cyberbullying…
Heather: I once had someone tell me I needed to get my teeth whitened because it looks like I smoke three packs a day. Losers. I only smoke TWO packs a day.
Yvonne: Once upon a time, this happened to me. (taken from a blog post, written by someone else, from the perspective of Y) “I’ll pig out on ice cream and junk food and burst into tears every time I look at my body. I am such a worthless pig. Today I got an email where someone told me that if I just learned to control my impulse to comfort myself with food I could lose weight, but screw them. THEY DON’T KNOW ME. If they did, they’d know that my weight problems have less do with food and more to do with the fact that I have the emotional maturity of a 3rd grader and lack any resemblance of self control.”
Jenny Grace: On Twitter, someone told me that I’m clearly clinically obese, that my obesity is going to cause me to develop type II diabetes, and as a result I’m going to orphan my son, and therefore I’m not a good mom and haven’t made my child my first priority.
Brittany: The anonymous comments suck, but they don’t hurt nearly as much as when they come from someone you know. A person who knows me left three horrible comments on my site, calling me obese, going after my mother, my father, my husband, and my kids, and they also spread the “love” on Facebook. It was horrific. Something I will never be able to forgive. The internet is not as anonymous as you think, you know?
Last week Mishi got a comment here, on this site, that said “You should forget this food blog and start an exercise blog. you can see how much weight you’ve gained since you got married by how much finger fat rolls over your wedding ring. Your husband doesnt want some chubbo wife who blogs about shitty french fries all day. get up and go jogging.”
As for me, well, I’ve had my fair share. I found out a few months back that there multiple forums dedicated to slamming my blog. But the comment I will probably always remember was about this very site and after I disclosed my battles with an eating disorder. “I can’t wait to see that brain girl freak out about gaining two pounds once.”
Those of us who write here are tired of staying quiet about this. Words can have impacts far greater than we realize, they have led to suicides of teenagers and adults, they have ruined families and relationships, they have destroyed self-esteem. Your words are powerful and we’re asking you to use them for good, to build others up, not tear them down.
Standing behind a computer calling someone ugly or fat is bullying and it’s absolutely wrong. It may seem fun or funny to you to criticize someone else’s appearance, you may enjoy making others feel bad, but you’re playing a dangerous game. Just because we ignore you most of the time doesn’t mean that your words aren’t having an effect on us. And if you’re doing it in front of your children, you’re perpetuating a cycle of hate that absolutely has to stop. No child or adult should be the target of this kind of hatred. It’s not a game.
Here at CGG, we welcome open discussion, but we do not publish comments that are meant to be hurtful, we do not approve of blogs or twitter accounts that exist only to say unkind things about others. And we hope that you’ll follow our example. If you’ve been a victim of cyberbullying, we stand with you and we want to work with you to stop this. Tell us your story, tell us what was said and how it affected you. Let’s put faces on this issue, let’s stop being anonymous and speak out.
Help us put an end to cyberbullying so that no child, teenager, or adult ever has to feel the way we have felt.
Katie is a 28 year old Southern Californian, married to a doctor, racking up as much student debt as possible as a full-time graduate student in a health science. Her hobbies include abusing parentheses, baking complicated desserts that almost universally involve frosting and loving her two cats more than is socially acceptable. She’s currently balancing her first child and graduating from graduate school. So planning and timing are also things she excels at. You can read more from Katie on her blog, Overflowing Brain.