Bullying and cyberbullying are hot topics both in the media and in schools across the country. Many states are enacting stiff laws that address bullying and harassment, and those laws usually include cyberbullying. In some states, cyberbullying can result in jail or prison time, and may be a felony. But, the reality of cyberbullying is that it is not confined to teenagers. Adults are victims of cyberbullying, and more and more adults are becoming cyberbullies. What is the fastest growing population among those who cyberbully? It is adult women.
So, what is cyberbullying? It is bullying and harassment but instead of being done in a real life setting, it is done over the computer, in chat rooms, social networking sites, or via text message, or emails. In short, it is bullying done using a piece of electronic equipment. Now, in real life, we can walk away from a bully, disconnect ourselves from that person, at least in the best case scenarios. But because the internet is everywhere, providing endless forums for the bully to use to perpetrate their crime, cyberbullying can be far harder to stop, and can exact an even higher emotional toll on the person being cyberbullied. We are well aware that cyberbullying has lead to suicides among teens, and while most adults have more resources and life experience to withstand the cyberbully, there is still a toll for the adult being bullied, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual, or the attempted ruination of a reputation.
Insults, name calling, attacks on race, religious beliefs, physical or emotional disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, or ANY OTHER PERSONAL CHARACTERISTIC are all considered bullying, and when done via the internet, or cell phone, comprise cyberbullying. Generally, there is also some form of cyberstalking involved in the cyberbullying, as well.
What can you do if you are being cyberbullied? First off, do not respond in kind–do not cyberbully back. That rather goes without saying, but in the heat of the moment, when feelings are hurt, and emotions are raw, it is easier said than done. Gather evidence, including saving text messages, taking screen shots of cyberbullying comments and posts, and keep all bullying emails. Contact the site on which you are being harassed and bullied. Most have very strong anti-harassment policies. Some are quicker than others to respond. Tell someone you trust, and if you have an attorney, forward all of the evidence to him. Contact law enforcement if you are threatened. If the bully does not stop, you can seek a harassment order. Check out your local state laws to see if cyberbullying is addressed, and what legal measures can put a stop to it.
Why do adult people cyberbully? Usually, the bullying comes from anger, jealousy, and a need for revenge. Many adult bullies do it for entertainment purposes. They enjoy bullying. It makes them feel better about themselves somehow. Often, these people have too much time on their hands, and not a real, meaningful, life to speak of, so instead or reading a good book, or knitting, or just loving on the people in their lives, they use their free time, and often work time, to engage in cyberbullying. These are truly sad people who have yet to reach an emotional stage of development that dictates a life of kindness, integrity, and compassion. They are unhappy people.
Yes, I am being cyberbullied right now, and while I’d love to think that I am six feet tall and bullet proof, it hurts. That the person who is doing the cyberbullying does not know me at all baffles me. It would seem that she is so weak in her own personal character that she is easily swayed by information provided to her by people who are not trustworthy sources of information about me, or are they even close to honest and objective. And yet, she allows herself to be their puppet, or she is just unhappy enough to need no encouragement. I don’t know. I don’t care. In any world, and for whatever reason, it’s wrong.
That this same woman claims that she was bullied as a teen, writes articles and blog posts about the experience, and is using a site to raise money to have anti-bullying pamphlets printed, so that she can go into the schools to talk to children about bullying is the ultimate irony. This woman has wished me dead, and openly expressed her desire to be able to hasten my death. I think that somehow goes far and beyond bullying. What is she modeling to her own children with her bad behavior?
I have seen adults bully other adults. Prison was a great place for that. When I saw it happening, even if I shared a dislike for the person being bullied, I always confronted the bully, if it was safe to do, and it usually was. There is no excuse for bullying or cyberbullying. What you have to say about others speaks far more to your own character than to the person that you are insulting, degrading, and trying to tear down.
I don’t play with bullies, or cyberbullies, but I do take appropriate actions, and those actions may soon have to reach an even higher level if I want this to stop, and I do want it to stop. If you are being cyberbullied, do not sit back in silence. Tell some. Speak out. Get help. Below are some links to organizations with information on cyberbullying.
Each day, I just keep praying for this woman, and the family endorsing her cyberbullying. I pray that someday they will open themselves to the concepts of love, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, and compassion. That’s a tall order to fill, but with God, anything is possible! In the meantime, I will continue to live my own life fully using those concepts.