We have a popular magazine-type TV programme here in the UK and this week a lady was on whose 14 year old daughter had committed suicide because of online and text bullying – you can watch the interview online here. Both interviewers were in tears as they have children and could empathise hugely with the woman’s pain and loss.
I was bullied from the age of 7 until I was 18. The worst years were between 12 and 14 where my school life was made a daily misery. My home life was a train wreck and my school days were filled with fear, humiliation and physical harm. No-one wanted to be friends with me in case the bullies picked on them too, so I spent my days in isolation. Then everyone wondered why, by the time I was 17, I was clinically depressed. I thought about killing myself on numerous occasions and did take a small overdose once. Most nights I just wished I would die in my sleep so that I wouldn’t have to face the next day. I dread to think what would have happened to me if I’d been a teenager now, with the advent of texting and social media – I know for an absolute fact I wouldn’t have been able to handle the bullying extending to my home life and going on 24/7.
When you’re bullied the perpetrators pick on everything you say and you end up mute. You daren’t open your mouth because they will tear apart whatever comes out. Consequently I lost my voice for a very, very long time.
As a victim of bullying it was a big decision for me to start a blog. To open up my private life, my thoughts and inner most feelings to the world. Blogs are open to comments from any Tom, Dick or Mary and the anonymity of the internet means that people seem to feel they have carte blanche to say whatever they like, however they like. People like to tell you they disagree with you, you are wrong, they are right. I’ve been told my blog is a joke (which means my life is a joke), I can’t be as ill as I claim, I know nothing and I need to shut the fuck up. They forget they are speaking to a human being, with feelings. We have no idea when we bash off a comment what the impact on the recipient will be.
I am harsh with people who leave negative comments on my blog. You want to be a mean girl, I can be mean too. I don’t like doing it but no longer will I let people belittle me or not allow me my voice. I don’t fucking care whether you agree with me or not – I am entitled to my opinion on my own blog. You want to share a different opinion write your own goddamn blog.
The hoo ha when we left the European Union, and which continues on with monotonous fervor, did my absolute nut in. The Remainers would not allow anyone with a different opinion to theirs a voice. I got absolutely pissed off every time I shared my opinion on Facebook that two or three friends instantly challenged it. They were polite enough but the constant arguing of their own point of view was exhausting and relentless. It got to the stage where I just stopped talking about politics online because I couldn’t handle the stress. My voice had, once again, been silenced and it made me absolutely furious.
We have to be very careful about what we say online and in texts and how we say it. We have no idea the fragility of the person we are interacting with. I appear a very strong, confident person but a decade of bullying inevitably leaves its mark. Not only that but my biological Dad criticized everything I did, ditto my ex-Husband. I was told everything that came out of my mouth was shite so once again I stopped talking.
However I am a grown up now and I refuse to be silenced. I have a voice, I have a viewpoint and I am entitled to both on my own blog and on my own Facebook page.
I give other people the same courtesy. My readers and FB friends can write whatever they like on their blogs or FB walls – I just won’t comment on it if I disagree. They are entitled to their voice in their own space, they’re just not entitled to silence or criticize my voice in my space.
Bullying and entitlement to say whatever you like whenever you like to whoever you like has gotten completely out of hand. When vile contestants like Kim Woodburn are runner-up in Big Brother it proves that nasty, aggressive, out of control behaviour is somehow now celebrated and nice, kind, normal people are seen as boring. It has to change.
UK citizens in the Remain camp were all gobsmacked when the majority of people chose to leave the EU but the reason was very simple – the Brexiteers hadn’t had their voice listened to for a very, very long time. Remainers disagreed with their views so either dismissed them or argued over them. They were convinced that their argument was right and if they said it long enough and loud enough they’d ‘convert’ everyone else to it but as Dr Phil is fond of saying “how did that work for you?” The same can be said of the election of Trump in the States. I have recently lost yet more friends because I was fed up to the back teeth of them forcing their political views on me and trying to silence my voice which makes me deeply sad, but I’d rather have a voice and no friends than no voice and friends who won’t allow me to speak.