Being Civil Online and Preventing Cyberbulling

Cyberbullying is a serious problem, especially among teens, where more than 1 in 3 have been cyberbullied in their lifetime. Cyberbullying may also be an issue even among adults and young children. In a society where anonymity online can be used as a weapon against people who either a.) hold different views than the perpetrator or b.) are hated or that the perpetrator is disgusted by, we need to be vigilant against cyber bullying and make sure we don’t become perpetrators ourselves. I’ve seen many people on even social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter rail against each other and call someone they don’t even know personally nasty names or even tell other people to end their own lives over petty issues.

This is why we need to be sure we are always civil online and do our part to ensure that the Internet trolls don’t successfully hurt others or ourselves.
Here’s how:

Being Civil Online

  1. When you disagree with something or something someone wrote or said online angers or irritates you, do yourself and that other person a favor: Don’t say anything nasty to them. –I made the mistake of biting back and saying some crude things a very long time ago when someone made rude remarks about the type of music I listened to. In retrospect, I should have just left it alone. Sometimes bloggers (and I read a lot of blogs since I’m part of a blogging group now) say things that disgust, upset, or irritate me. Not all the time, not often, but once in a blue moon. I have found the most effective and most civil way to voice my disagreement over their post is to say nothing at all. If you feel, however, that you must say something to them, do it civilly. Find points in common. For instance, in the example of the people making fun of the music I listened to, I could have said, ” We both listen to similar kinds of music, but just different groups. I am sorry that you feel that way about [name of group], but I respectfully disagree with you.” OR “It looks like we both like different groups, but maybe we both have another artist we both like. What are some other music artists you like?” Lastly, ask questions and try to learn about why they think that way. For instance, if you live in the U.S and you really don’t like Trump and the person you are engaging with really likes Trump, you could ask, “What have you found that Trump does well?” or “What led you to vote for him?,” but say it in a neutral, wanting-to-learn tone of voice, and not an accusatory, judgmental tone of voice.

When someone attacks you:

This is harder because it’s personal. They want to hurt you, perhaps to make a point or put you down. It doesn’t matter. It is not right for them to do that, but there will be trolls. Internet trolls are, according to Wikipedia, “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.” Often trolls either want to hurt you personally out of anger, or for their own amusement. However, we can prevent ourselves from stooping down to their level by taking these measures:

  1. Don’t respond to them, if possible.— Yes, even if you angry inside (and I would be too, to be honest) the best way to not attract the kind of attention the troll wants is to be silent. Don’t give them the pleasure of a crass, emotionally-laden response. They want that, but if no one responds to them, the troll will die down and look for targets elsewhere.
  2. If you do respond, keep your responses simple and/or robotic.—If they say something about or to you that you know is untrue, say so. But that’s it. You don’t need to add about how they angered you or how rude they are (They already probably know, but they don’t care.). Just say, “This is not true.” or “What you said isn’t true.” If they insult your character, and the criticism isn’t warranted, but you feel the need to say something, say something like, “I’m sorry you feel that way, but that isn’t how I see it. ” OR “That isn’t true.”
  3. Report them to the moderators.–If they keep escalating, tell it to the moderators of the board. Don’t get overly emotional with your complaints. Just say, for instance, “So-and-so [person’s name here] keeps telling me that I lie and cheat on others when I have done nothing of that sort. And he (or she) keeps bad-mouthing me to other people. For instance, [tell of first instance, and other specific incidents thereafter]. Could you please tell him or her to stop? It not only hurts me, but the other people around me, and more importantly, it hurts the integrity of this whole board.” If the moderators don’t do anything about it or blame you for telling them about these incidents, don’t say anything bad or inflammatory back, just get out of that forum.

Preventing Cyberbullying:

First and foremost, don’t be a cyberbully yourself. Always communicate your responses and writings with love and grace to those who will read it.— If you disagree with someone, even strongly, be respectful of him or her. Don’t be judgmental or condemning, but speak the truth in love. If you want to give advice, make sure the person is welcoming of them. Never give unsolicited advice. a.) The person will get upset at you for “helping” them, and you both won’t feel better after the interaction. You, because you wouldn’t be appreciated by them, and them, because you will seem overbearing and like a busybody to them. b.) They probably won’t listen to said advice anyway, and you will waste your time trying to “help” them.

Second, if you witness someone being cyberbullied or attacked online, do something! — If you don’t want to engage with the attacker (and sometimes it’s wisest not to), report the attacker to the moderators/administrators. If they don’t do anything constructive about it within a reasonable time period (but give them some time, don’t be impatient), then get out of that forum! If you can engage, engage with the victim first. Stand up for him/her. For instance, if someone is attacking him/her because of his/her disability, tell the person something encouraging like, “I think you are a beautiful and unique person. You may have this disability, but don’t let it stop you from accomplishing your dreams and don’t listen to [perpetrator]. That is just not true.” Also, tell the perpetrator, “Attacking [name/screen name of victim] is not acceptable in this forum. If you don’t stop and/or apologize to [name/screen name of victim], I will report you to the appropriate people. Thank you.”

These are some ways I have found effective in dealing with the serious issue of cyberbullying. What are some other ways you have found to help combat cyber bullying? Please discuss in the comments. Also, may we all join forces to combat this issue so that the Internet will be a place of peace and love for all.

For related content, please see my friend Kat’s blog on:  Preventing Slut Shaming

sources: http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll

Why Hate- a poem

Why all the hate
In God’s good green earth?
Why have a date
With Satan and all his hate

Why all the cursing and backstabbing?
Why all the lying and stealing?
Why all the hurting and pain?
Why all the hatred to drive us insane?

Why ever waste energy
Devising ways to cause hurt and pain
And driving yourself insane in vain
Instead of seeking love and peace

Why ever hurt others
When it hurts you the most
Why not instead love
With the love from up above

Power of Words

What we say can mean a whole lot to people–either positively or negatively, depending on what words we use. This is because each word has a meaning behind it.–something that can either make or break a life. This is why we should always, always, strive to use our words to encourage someone, rather than to tear someone down.  When we tear someone down with our words, we risk not only creating distrust in a relationship, but tearing it down altogether.  Here are some common ways people use their words to hurt others…and also some ways that people can use their words to instead encourage one another. For more information on the power of words, see also this post:

Ways people tear down others using words:

  1. Using words to blame others for their own mistakes or problems- This often happens in families or among close friends.  Sometimes when a person doesn’t feel heard and is constantly being invalidated by another, he or she will start to blame the invalidating person for anything or everything going on in their lives. They would say to them, “If you hadn’t done x,  then I would have not been passed over for that job I really wanted.” or something to that effect. They will use the other person as a scapegoat and refuse to accept responsibility for their own mistakes and failures.
  2.  Invalidating—This often happens when a person is too caught up in their own life and problems to listen to the other (often, hurting) person. It also happens when a person doesn’t care about the hurting person’s problems.  For instance, if I told you that I had a bad day, and you said something like “Suck it up, buttercup.” or “Ok, that’s nice,” in a dismissive, sarcastic way, that would be invalidating my feelings and that I had a bad day. Instead,  using this example, you should listen to what I have to say or at the very least express sympathy for my pain and suffering.
  3. Being sarcastic.—This often happens when a person is upset with someone, but doesn’t just want to yell at them. For instance, if a child doesn’t want to listen to his or her parents’ directions to clean his or her room, he or she may say, ” It doesn’t have to be perfectly clean you know!” knowing it isn’t even clean at all!
  4. Using curse words.–This means a person uses foul language to tear down and insult someone. For instance, if a person feels another has hurt or insult them by the other person’s words and/or actions, he or she may call them a[n] [insert swear word here] to their face or behind their back.
  5. Insulting someone—This can happen in many ways. One of the ways a person uses words in this mean and derogatory way is to mock them.  For instance,  President Trump was accused by some people of mocking the disabled and women by making fun of their mannerisms using his words.  Another way some people unfortunately insult people is to degrade them. For instance, a parent may verbally abuse their children by saying that “They never do anything right.” or saying, “You’re worthless. I wish you were never born to me!”

Ways we can encourage people with our words:

  1. We can validate them.–When we see or hear someone in pain, we can first of all, listen and hear what they have to say. Then, we can sympathize with them by saying, “I’m sorry you are going through this. What can I do to help you through this?” We can ensure them (if that’s the case) that what they are going through is not their fault. If it is their fault, we can validate them by saying that we will help them to make amends and forgive them for their errors.
  2. We can refuse to slander or gossip about others.– One of the most damaging things one can do to another person is to slander or gossip about them, so that their reputation is ruined or, at the very least, marred. If you refuse to say unkind things about others, it will be much easier to encourage and uplift them.  Even if those things are true, I have learned (often, unfortunately, the hard way) we can instead talk to the person directly about any issues we have with them.  If you are scared or for some reason can’t talk to them directly, at least talk to someone who can actually do something to rectify the issue or issues you’re having with said person. Once someone said that if you are not part of the problem or solution to an issue between people,  then you have no right to blab about another person in an unkind way. If you do, then it is gossip.
  3. We can use our words to uplift someone in need of our love and encouragement.–What I started to do at work is to make little notes of encouragement to people who I feel need it. When we use our words, either orally or in print, to compliment and/or encourage someone, it can give them the joy they so desperately need in their lives. For instance, one of my managers was having a stressful day and it was his birthday. So, I had some of my co-workers and managers write him good wishes for his day, and when I gave it to him and told him what a great manager he was (and he is), he teared up a little, obviously touched by the encouragement that those co-workers, managers, and I gave him.  I have seen when I take the time to encourage someone, instead of gossiping or slandering someone, people usually take notice, and their faces light up.
  4. We can speak the truth in love.–When you must correct someone or admonish him or her for something they are doing that is hurting themselves or others, it is often an unpleasant experience. However, we don’t have to avoid talking to them about the issue or sweep it under a rug, so to speak, in order to build someone up. We don’t have to be nasty or insulting to them either. We can speak the truth in love instead.  For instance, if a child’s parents catches their child lying , they doesn’t have to call the child a “liar” or let the child lie to them. They can instead focus on the bad behavior, instead of the child’s worth as a person.  For instance, they can say, “Tommy, when you lied about having already taken the trash out, it made me feel angry and hurt.  I know you can do better than lying to us.  Can you trust us to tell the truth next time, so we can trust you?”  Use the phrase, when you did x, it made me feel X (name the emotion—angry, hurt, frustrated, sad, disappointed, etc…). Also, affirm the person after you let the person know you’re upset at him/her. This doesn’t mean you condone the behavior, just the person.  Also, let the person know how you would like them to change their behavior. For instance, Tommy’s parents asked him to be more honest with them next time so he could regain their trust.
  5. We can demonstrate humility by apologizing and by honestly committing to make real amends when we wrong someone or otherwise make a mistake.—For instance, if you upset a boss at work by doing something incorrectly or inadequately,  instead of making excuses or blaming others for the wrong that occurred, you can apologize. For instance, when a manager points out a mistake that I did in straightening, instead of making excuses for why I did it wrongly or inadequately, I could say, “I’m sorry for X mistake I made in straightening. How can I commit to doing this work better?” This response would not only be genuinely humble, but also shows you are open to learning from your mistakes.

These are just some of the ways people (unfortunately) tear down others, and some of the ways that people can build up people.  I am not perfect in building up people in any of these ways. There are still many things about encouraging others and not tearing them down that I need to learn, and we all do. However, the more we proactively encourage others, and the less we tear them down with our words, the better this world will be for them.

What I Learned About the Most Painful Experiences of My Life

DISCLAIMER: Please keep comments civil and respectful of everyone, as this was not that easy for me to write, or they will be deleted.

*religious references*

In all the most painful experiences of my life, there is one quality that made these events especially painful: the feeling of being rejected. However, I will share these things with you, not as a vie for some attention, but so that you can learn from them too, and triumph in your own bouts with trials and suffering.

Bullying at school: One of my most painful experiences to date was the teasing and bullying I endured at school up until about high school. There is an adage that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Some people I encountered at school said or did things that made me feel less than and not even worthy to be called their friend or confidant, no matter how much I tried to be one to them.

What I learned: From this pain, God has taught me to never reject a hurting person or anyone just on the basis of superficial things like how they look or dress, whether or not they are rich or poor, what sexual orientation they identify with, or on the basis of how intelligent or intellectual they are. God has also taught me how to better use my words and actions to bless instead of curse or condemn. He has taught me how bullying and teasing can destroy a person’s soul and even livelihood! God has taught me how to appreciate people who do love and accept me for who I really am more, and make sure I show them in tangible ways, that they are, in fact, appreciated by me.

Being unemployed or underemployed: Another painful experience in my life was not being able to find, for awhile, employers that wanted to give me a chance to work for them. It’s not that I wasn’t willing to work hard or that I didn’t get along with people. It is just that I didn’t find a good fit for me, and that made me feel depressed and worthless, and that I wouldn’t really amount to anything in this world, which is basically what a teacher in high school said in so many words to me. And I internalized this lie for a long time, extending to even my “work years.”

What I learned: From this pain, God has taught me to value what He has given me now, especially my current job. God has taught me to always work hard in all areas of my life to please Him, but not so I could get saved.  God has also taught me to have more compassion and love for others who are still looking for work, or who, for whatever reason, really can’t work, because I learned that it is not easy to look for a job. He has taught me that my ultimate worth comes from Him, not my job or anyone in it. Finally, God has taught me from that experience, to never ever give up, because good things will come to those who are able to persevere, even in the midst of the most difficult pains and trials. For story on how God graciously provided me with my current job, please see this post.

Having family and friends move away: Another painful experience in my life was seeing family and/or friends move away from me. The most painful was having a sibling of mine move to another state. However, these changes have actually helped me grow for the better.

What I learned: From this pain, God has helped me to treasure each moment with the people I love, and also strive to enjoy the people who I am with more, because I now know that seeing them tomorrow or next time is never guaranteed by God. He has also helped me to be more open to meeting and to bond with new people, and made the relationships I have with the people that haven’t left me stronger, in many cases. Most of all, through this trial, God has helped me keep people with an open hand. That is, l learned to let God do what He wants with the people around me, including sometimes taking them away from me,  but only if it is His will, and not feeling devastated or hopeless about that prospect, but instead depending on Him for my ultimate companionship.

All these things have helped me be a stronger and more caring person than I was before. I’m not perfect, and I still don’t like pain, but I know that God is there with me through it all. He will be there for you in your pain and suffering too, if you let Him.

How to get out of the dump: Triumphing in and after suffering

*triggers: Mentions suicide*

A cursory look at the Facebook posts in my news feed today shows me that there are at least two phases that my Facebook friends find themselves in today: 1.) Going through a trial or trials and 2) Going through times of joy and jubilation. People don’t normally post the ordinary things that they are doing. For example, I would not post that I’m going to work later on today. It just won’t get people’s interest, but that’s commentary for another time.

However, I would like to focus today on how people can triumph over suffering and not lose hope in trials. I admit, for the author of this blog, this is still something I am working on, but these things I have found to be true not only for me, but also for others who I have seen and heard overcome their trials.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and talk things through.-Often in trials, we want to be alone and be able to get out of the dump ourselves. Though a few times I have been able to get out of the dump myself, I have found that asking for help and talking things through with another person, whether it be virtual or real-life, helps me gain perspective on my trial and be encouraged by another person either a.)going through the same thing I have or b.) already went through the same thing I have and has gotten out alive and well.  Also, when we ask for help, we can often find new solutions to our trials we ourselves never thought of before or at least remind us that we are not alone in our trials.  DISCLAIMER: If you feel that when you have asked for help, that no one was there or made things worse, I do apologize. In an ideal world, someone helping you would always make things better, but because of sin (moral wrongdoing) this happens. But I would recommend not giving up on all people, because I believe at least one of them will be able to give you the right kind of help.
  2. Try to persevere through the trial, even if you don’t want to-Often in trials we want to give up on working through it. This is because often we as people want comfort. God has been telling me time and time again that if I idolize anything other than Him, it’s comfort, and that I need to repent of that. Comfort, according to the Oxford Dictionary,  can be defined as,”A state of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.” (source:https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/comfort). We don’t want pain, but if we tell ourselves in no uncertain terms that this pain will not last forever, we will be able to better endure it. Give up trying to be comfortable.
  3. Try to learn from the trial. -This is often more difficult when you are in the midst of it. However, there is often something to learn, something to be gained, even and often after going through a trial. For instance, since I work in sales, sales are slower during this time of year (i.e.. after Christmas), and hours get cut. Because I thought my hours had been cut more drastically than they were, I thought for sure no one really appreciated me. I began to spiral down a depressive cycle. I was a sobbing mess…until God made me realize that I counted the total hours wrong. I was actually given more hours than the previous week! And then the next day, because I needed a correction on my schedule, I was incidentally given even more hours! So, what I learned in the trial, was to focus on the positives and that God can make even the bad scenarios into blessings for me.  Sometimes, when you go through a trial and you don’t understand why you are going through it, it can be tough to persevere through it and find any hope of ever getting out of the perpetual cycle of pain and suffering that goes with going through a trial. However, know that there is always something to be learned from the trial even when you don’t know what it is yet. This is beneficial to us, because it will help us not only learn from our mistakes or help us to know God or ourselves better, it will often help us be stronger and more compassionate and caring people. For instance, I shared in another post that I was often bullied by classmates and even a few teachers in school. Though I sometimes wished that I weren’t alive in those moments, I am glad that I survived this because I am better equipped to be able to relate to and help those who are being bullied and/or abused by others or have experienced similar or worse things than I have.

 

If you are going through a trial right now, I encourage you to not be afraid to ask for help, to not give up on life in the midst of the trials, and learn from the trial. If you are going through extended suffering and feel like giving up in life completely and are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-SUICIDE or some other crisis line. Know that whatever season of life you are going through, you are never alone and that there are people who care for you.