By Caitlin Kelly
This post, from the Huffington Post, caught my attention, and not in a good way:
The Internet has done amazing, wonderful, stupendous things for
connecting the world, promoting freedom and diversity, enabling distance
learning and online friendships, and establishing whole new worlds of
commerce, but there is a dark side to it that is really starting to
bother me. All of this interconnectedness has created a meanness in us,
or maybe it has simply revealed a mean spirit that was there all along,
but I wish it would go away. Even kind, loving people I know are
susceptible to it, and my hope is that this post will get folks to
reconsider before hitting return.
I’m talking about the Mean Photo. You know, the snapshot of someone
grocery shopping, or going to the prom, or on the subway who probably
thinks she looks perfectly okay, but some stranger (or worse, a friend)
takes a picture and posts it on the Internet for the rest of us to share
and “like” and write snide, superior comments.
If I see one more picture with the caption, “Oh. Dear. God!” I may just lose it.
That is a human being in that picture. A person who got up that day,
got dressed and left the house without ever thinking it would make her
the subject of public ridicule, simply because her shorts are too tight.
Maybe she’s gained a lot of weight recently due to a medical condition
and can’t afford new clothes, or doesn’t want to buy things in a size
she intends to reduce. Maybe it’s a single mom who had to choose
between doing the laundry and going to her son’s baseball game, so here
she is, cheering him on, making the better choice, even though this
outfit is all she had to put on.
I’ve never seen a site like this that mocks people, nor do any of my 600+ Facebook friends indulge in this special brand of nastiness, (at least on that site), so this was news to me.
But — seriously?
As someone who was bullied for three years in high school, I have zero tolerance for this sort of shit.
Bullying, in any form, makes me insane. It’s cheap, crude, pathetic behavior on the part of people who have some sick need to project their toxic insecurities and judgement onto others.
Here’s a wild idea. It’s easy to remember because it’s the first three letters of the alphabet: ABC.
Always Be Compassionate.
I get it…we all have lousy days. We all have times that our lizard brain kicks in and starts spewing. We’re not saints and some of us have no desire to be one, either.
But, a default position that others are struggling (too) is probably a safe choice, because:
You have no idea what someone else is facing, emotionally, financially, intellectually, physically.
You have no idea why someone’s hair needs a cut or their shoes are scuffed and filthy or their kids aren’t wearing designer clothes like yours do.
You have no idea why they’re driving a crappy, banged-up old car or don’t have a car at all.
You have no idea why someone is 30 or 50 or 100 pounds overweight.
Like the man in my building who was trim and handsome for years — and now has such big jowls I didn’t recognize him when I saw him the other day.
He isn’t eating donuts or being a lazy slob stuck to the sofa.
He has a brain tumor, and a brave wife and a gorgeous little white dog, and his medications have blown him up into someone who looks like he can’t stop eating.
His appearance breaks my heart — and all I think is “There but for the grace of God…”
I can’t fathom a world in which people are using their phones and the Internet to mock others for malicious amusement.
- Bullying: We are the problem (ctworkingmoms.com)
- The Bullying Epidemic (bet.com)
- Back-to-School Bully Busting – A Safety Guide for Parents by SimpliSafe Home Security (simplisafe.com)
- Hate in a new form welcome to the Internet! (rucreativebloggingfa13.wordpress.com)
- How do I, as a reporter, tell the story of a student being bullied? (ask.metafilter.com)
- Internet bullying and why it needs to stop (atddublin.com)