A year ago, I sat by and watched a tragedy in our community unfold. A mass shooting so close to home. Yet it was those moments, hours and days after that stuck out for me the most. While there were so many who came together in moments of support and kindness, all across social media platforms I began to see so much hate and bullying being spewed. By both strangers and people who knew each other in a personal way.
A year later, a memory post came up on my Facebook.
I was pleading with those I love and care about to help stop the hate. The haunting memory of the name-calling, harassing and even wishing harm against others was more than this mama could handle. Yet a year later, here we still were.
Pandemic, politics, race, religion, etc. So many important things going on, that of course bring forth so many strong feelings. Advocating for what people believe in, post after post after post. I strongly support those standing up for what they believe in; it’s the comments that follow that I read often with disbelief. They are hateful, spiteful and just plain mean.
Bullying is a topic that has been increasingly discussed.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, teen suicide jumped 56% from 2007-2017. Many of those families reported bullying, especially on social media, as a trigger or cause. Parents are screaming from the rooftops asking for bullying behaviors to stop. Schools are trying hard to address it.
The raw truth, however, is that mamas… many of us are to blame. Straight out of the “Llama Llama” series, we are becoming “bully goats.” We (I’m not perfect; I’m sure at some point I, too, have hurt someone) are the ones spreading hate – and OUR children see it. They hear it. They read it.
So many adults are bullying each other on social media, surrounded by a veil of protection in not having to face the actual person they are being hateful to. When though did this become ok? When did having a difference of opinion become an instant “My point is better than yours, and I’ll fight you to the death?” When did we lose our ability to have civil disagreements and even agree to disagree? When did it become acceptable to spew hate to strangers who think differently than you?
My heart worries for my children.
I worry that they will believe it is ok to be unkind in moments where they feel as though someone doesn’t agree with them. That this is especially warranted if they don’t know the person, or can easily block them via social media. The question though becomes what happens when that stranger bashed on Facebook ends up being the one to interview them for their dream job?
My plea to all of us – before we post, comment, etc. – ask ourselves, “Would you say those words to the people you love and care about? Could you stand in front of your most respected advisor and say them? Would you send a letter to a friend and write those words within the folds of the paper? Would you want your children saying those things to strangers or loved ones?” If the answer is no, then perhaps it is best left unsaid.
We are the only ones who can change the bullying and ugly behavior. We can blame others (our president, the media, etc.); however, the reality is the only one to blame for how we are acting is ourselves. If someone else is acting ugly, shouldn’t we choose to rise above? I want my children to do that!
We are all trying to get through this crazy, unsettled time. No one knows the answer. No one knows what is coming next, but perhaps with a lot more kindness, we can get through the next portion of the unknown a little easier and with a lot less stress!