I've talked about how the anonymity of the internet brings out the worst in people. Given my choice of profession, however, I've been forced to deal with it more and more. Having been lucky enough to be featured on Yahoo!, I've had thousands of people read or view my posts, and as a result, I've been privy to cyber-bullying, "mean girl" (and especially guy) tactics, and character assassinations. It comes with the territory and it definitely has taken some getting used to. That said, it still hurts.
Last October, I was lucky to be a guest on actress Judy Greer's (E.g., Mad Love, 13 Going on 30 and Arrested Development) "Reluctantly Healthy" web-television show (Thank You Yahoo!). After a 5am wake-up call and a 4 hour train ride, I arrived for the taping in New York. I did my hair and my makeup as best as I could (I do not have entourage status), and was ready to go. While taping, the lighting was so strong, that my eyes hurt, and as much as I tried not to, I was squinting through most of the taping. I imagine if one has a career in television, this is something one gets used to. Anyway, long story short, the taping was completed. I hopped back on a train home and couldn't wait for the webisode to air.
The webisode aired and I thought it was fantastic. Although the color seemed a bit reddish, and my squinting seemed noticeable; I was happy to see it go live. I tend to read comments people leave on my posts or those that include me, and in this case, it was a big mistake. The negativity was staggering, and I felt as though I was punched in the gut. Commentary ran the gamut: "I looked washed up and unhealthy." "I seemed drunk or on drugs." There were racial slurs and assumptions about my religion. "I was old and wrinkled." "My voice was whiny, nasal and annoying." I was thought to have had bleached my hair (for the record: not once in my life have I done so) and needed a comb through (read: no entourage). And of course, my favorite: "I had a "Shnoz" bigger than a greyhound" (obviously linked to the nasal quality of my annoying voice). You name it, they said it. I felt like I was back in high school all over again.
I got over it. But, there is a point to all of this: Bullying hurts at every age. And even though I'm a grown woman who knows deep down that bullies are bitter people, who probably suffer from low self-esteem themselves, it still is painful. What's worse: if I find it hurtful at my age, I can only imagine how children, who can't rationalize away bullying, must suffer.
Adult bullies are teaching their children to be bullies just like themselves. And so, the harmful bullying cycle continues. How will children know any better unless their parents set an example that is better? Why do we let the anonymity of the internet give us permission to be rude, disrespectful and mean to others? Why don't we stand for stronger and more ethical treatment of one another?
Unfortunately, in the day of texting and social media, the internet is used more and more to bully others. The irony of it, however, is that it is extremely cowardly. If you are going to bash me, at least have the guts to do it to my face.
Have you been a victim to bullying? Have you yourself ever been a bully yourself? Do you have children and if so, what are you doing to help prevent them from bullying others?
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