Your Words Have Power, Use Them Wisely

No doubt you have all seen in the press recently another beautiful young person has taken her life as a result of bullying cowardly internet trolls.  It saddens me that with the amazing technology that we now have access to in our homes and at our finger tips, there are those cowardly souls that would abuse this medium, hiding behind their anonymity to slander and disparage more vulnerable individuals.

We have all been members of social media groups where particular discussion threads have descended quickly into public slanging matches where accusations are made and vitriolic statements written.  I have left many a group appalled that so-called intelligent and fortunate people have found it necessary to take advantage of these opportunities to denigrate others with insults becoming unnecessarily offensive.

This week was no exception, whilst taking part in a Twitter event an individual took this opportunity to air some personal grievances with another.  Whilst it was obvious that these two shared some sort of history, it was in my opinion not the right platform for these allegations and whilst I don’t know the circumstances which caused this rift, I do think there’s a lot to be said for not washing your dirty linen in public.  As the afternoon wore on, the tweets got more distasteful and more malicious so I just couldn’t help myself when I tweeted that pulling someone else down wouldn’t help you reach the top quickly followed by good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.

Predictably, the tweeter then turned his or her attention to me by tweeting something along the lines of “desperate uninformed writers don’t get my tweets”.  Well I guess that would be me but also I daresay most of today’s bestselling authors before they became published; so I was in good company.  Well buddy, if that’s the best insult that you can hurl at me, “Game On” because I am my Father’s daughter not some impressionable teenager and I have been taught the importance of right from wrong since I could walk along with respect for myself and others.  Whilst I don’t actively seek out confrontation, I will not run from it and neither will I indulge others that thrive on conflict and will endeavour to cause a fight in an empty room.

I can’t help but wonder if there had been just one compassionate voice in the darkness for one of those desperate bullied teenagers, maybe just maybe it might have made a difference.

 The world is a dangerous place not because of the evil that men do but because of those that look on and do nothing       Albert Enstein

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78 thoughts on “Your Words Have Power, Use Them Wisely

  1. I worry about how much these site hold and control the young mind. If I don’t like it, I would just stop using it. Peer pressure has a lot to answer for both the ‘trolls’ Who just have learnt nothing about kindness and must get something from this act. Also the poor kids that just keep hearing/ reading vile things! It is worse than a bully and (if possible) more cowardly. Really sad and worrying.

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    • Bullying is cowardly and bullies need to be accountable and made aware that there is no place in our society for this behaviour. It occurs to me as I write this that there will be many people dreading returning to school, university or work because of inappropriate actions by thoughtless individuals

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  2. Poor kid! Being teenage is hard enough. How must her parents feel? My daughter was bullied at school and that was hard enough. I just felt so helpless.
    Social media is so open to abuse by cowards and lowlife. I use it sparingly but for youngsters it’s their whole world sometimes.

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  3. It’s a terrible thing what happened. But with new technology comes new responsibility. I think there is a new job here for parents: to monitor what they are doing on internet and to make sure they are ok (not being bullied, or not being a bully). Unfollowing and/or unfriending is very underrated, but it really is a great option on most of these social sites. Did someone tell that poor young girl she has options? Did her parents know she was bullied before she killed herself? There will always be cowards and Internet just makes it easier to bully, protect your children from it. Teach them how to use it properly. Just my two cents… 😉

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  4. We moved around a LOT when I was a kid (I’d been to something like 13 or 14 different schools by the time I started 10th grade), and as I was perpetually the new kid, I got bullied. The lessons I’ve learned from that experience are that while I can generally overlook differences among people and I can let certain things roll off my back, I won’t roll over and play dead if someone decides to try and pick on me, either. Glad you stood up for yourself.

    I feel so for these poor folks who feel so hurt by the bullying that they take their own lives. I know how desperate they feel, but it does get better — I’m living proof that it does.

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  5. Again, your words strike right to the core Tink. One of the reasons I went off the ether…seeing so much of what is the ‘dark side’ of the power the internet has. Pleun is right, we do have options to filter, but you are more than correct…we do have an opportunity (and perhaps a responsibility) to step up. Thanks for the reminder that turning a blind eye, or pulling the shades, does nothing to help…in fact, does more to enable than anything. You’re a star

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  6. Yeah, it seems like the schoolground bullying has made a literal and more unaccountable translation into digital media. I worry about my kids in this context – I think we need to prepare our kids for this kind of thing and to call out people who do this type of thing. For those who are pushed to an ultimate act by this kind of thing – so incredibly sad. You have to wonder how the bullies feel when they see what their actions have done – if anything.

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  7. I, too, will reblog at Savvy Single Suppers. Wonderful post, Tink! Horrible news about another lost life due to thoughtlessness, mean-spiritedness and degrading behaviours. How empty and loveless and hollow must be the lives of those who choose to demean instead of support or show kindness.So many cries for help and attention all around. I try to follow Einstein’s advice and so pleased to be acquainted with another soul who lives her life that way too. Brava, Dallas!

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  8. This with bullying over our Media … has become such big and terrible problem everywhere, but bullying in overall has increased during the last 10-15 years and it’s not only teens … bullying at work too. Just terrible and absolutely unacceptable.
    A while ago I hurt a couple of youth bullying a boy – and I just went up to them and told them some well chosen words. I told the boy to go home and talk to his parents about it. I was bullied in school … but I stood up against them after a while that was in the late 1950’s and they let me be. Bullying has always been our society – at least so long as I can remember. Not so bad as now – because today there is no escape.
    But this with mobile phones, twitter and FB … I blame parents, because if you taught your kids the right values … they wouldn’t bully.
    We had a suicide too a couple of weeks ago for the same reason. And I think we should step in when we here or see bullying – doesn’t matter if it’s kids or adults …
    Brilliant post, Dallas … this is issue very close to my heart.

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    • I completely agree with you Wivi; when my multi-racial nieces were still at primary school, one of the other children called her the “N” word. The school were horrified and made the child apologise during the next assembly but you have to ask yourself where the child had learnt the word in the first instance

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      • Dallas, you know that kids pick up words from everywhere … mates mostly.
        Bullying has no place in our society and we are the ones that can stop it.
        In Belfast I got involved in bullying too at a bus stop – teens was bullying a guy … and I phoned the school, because they have their school uniforms on and explaining to my colleague at work about the colors they were wearing – we could figure out what school they were from.
        I don’t know what came out from it .. they wanted the names of those involved – I told them to have a serious talk with everybody at the school.

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  9. There were bullies before social media. People are bullied at school and in the work place and in the home. Social Media is not the enemy it is the society that condones bullies. Just look at Westminster and The City. Also I have read today that the poor girl that took her life may have set up the ‘accounts’ who cyber bullied her. So someone,somewhere didn’t listen and take notice that she needed to be listened to.

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    • I agree with you about bullies always being around but with the introduction of the internet, it makes it easier to target individuals and whatever the circumstances surrounding this young girl’s death, she was someone’s daughter who for whatever reason felt the need to take her own life and that was a shocking waste

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      • Absolutely agree, it is just that so many blame the internet and social media for everything, as if no one was ever bullied or took their life before twittter. No fraud before internet banking. Totally shocking waste and sad she felt she had no one to turn to or that those she did were not able to help.

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  10. So many people don’t understand…or choose to ignore that having the freedom to express yourself does not mean you should express yourself. I belong to a sight where there are numerous forums and it blows my mind to see the threads that are started, as if people are being baited to join conversations that are destructive and malicious. From there the conversations spin. I ask myself what someone gets from starting such a thread…does one feel that stepping on the backs of others somehow lifts oneself to a higher place? How sad. We should look to edify each other and nurture each other. We only have one life. We all have to make a choice on how we are going to treat one other in the short time that we have.
    Thank-you for a thought-provoking post.

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    • I sometimes find what’s written on these threads unbelievable and its usually on forums that are supposed to be offering support and advice, so I fail to see how such mean-spirited comments could possibly help or assist anyone. Thank you for reading and joining in the discussion

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  11. It is all I can do to keep from sobbing when I read stories of suicides caused by bullying. At least in the old days (before internet), to be bullied, one had to be in the presence of someone, and that someone was usually bolstered by a backup group. Today, one twisted sista’, or bro, can in the comfort of their bedroom, ruin another person/s life. Just wrong. Thanks for a great post, which makes me want to meet your da even more! – Kaye
    http://www.latebloomershow.com/

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    • I was instilled with a strong sense of justice from a very early age in much the same way you I know you were too & that you will have no doubt passed that on your boys too. But as my Dad always says about bullies, they need to remember that there is always someone bigger, better and faster

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  12. Standing up vs. ignoring the bullies seems a fine line to me. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “feeding the trolls”. At least it’s often used in political discussions. Some of these anonymous folk seem to crave attention and get it by saying really outrageous stuff. Any sort of attention, even when it’s negative, is what they crave, so the question becomes whether to feed their negativity or to simply ignore them. Of course, I realize it’s a whole different sort of thing when you’re filled with all that horrid teenaged angst. Don’t have any answers for that one other than having the right sort of friends for backup.

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  13. Dallas – bullying is devastating. There is no freedom, no love, no hope, no progress, no joy, no reconciliation, no peaceful outcomes. It is soul-destroying. Life is too beautiful and there is so much to hold dear. When we come to the end of our days, we will remember the generous connections, the kind thoughtfulness and the wonderful conversations that remain in our memories. Thank you for an excellent post.
    “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
    ― Maya Angelou

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  14. I guess bullying has been going on, in whatever form, as long as Man has been around. These days, it even reaches inside your former “place of safety” via social media. Very sad.

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  15. You are so right – we shouldn’t turn a blind eye when real bullying is happening but as Gunta says, internet trolls do thrive on attention. So hard to understand what you’re reading and where it may lead.

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  16. It is extremely sad when bullying has such tragic consequences. I know that being an adult doesn’t make you exempt from this, but I am so glad I’m not growing up now with the proliferation of social information sharing technologies out there. I was a quiet sensitive sort of child and can only imagine how stressful high school would have been if facebook etc had been around.

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    • Anyone can tweet or post anything to FB about you and it can become viral within seconds and whether it’s factually correct is immaterial and furthermore if it’s reported it will be sometime before its withdrawn and that’s if its considered in their opinion to have breached one of their policies so by that time the damage will have been done

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  17. It’s horrible when people use social media for insults and bullying. I can’t believe the situation you described where someone turned on you for speaking out against this behavior. What is wrong with people??

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  18. It is a terrible and terribly sad state we are in these days. Worse, we don’t seem to be able to stop it. Site owners and moderators are not stepping into the fray to stop the bullying. Parents and teachers don’t know it is happening until it is far to late. Children are being driven to desperate acts. As adults we can step in and protect ourselves, young people though, not so much. I am becoming increasingly convinced we should be truly monitoring usage and holding people responsible.

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    • I am completely with you on this Val, if the site owners are happy to take the monies generated from advertising on their sites then they need to be a bit swifter to take action and adhere to their so-called policies

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  19. Ugh social media and bullying… already when I was in school, instant messaging became a bullying tool. Then along came MySpace which I never joined, but it didn’t help. Now with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. there are so many tools out there available for bullies to use and take advantage of. Cyber bullying is a real thing. Just go look at the comments on any news article online–there are so many negative comments, it’s unbelievable.

    Don’t let one measly Twitter user get you down.

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  20. Agree with you completely. Though I don’t participate in most of the social media, it seems to me that we can’t really stop verbal abuse on the net. Eventually it’ll stop when those people realize that others see them in all their vulgarity. But we can try and encourage the victims, so that those who are weaker will realize that there are those who sympathize with them. Regarding yourself, there are so many who follow and enjoy your writing, that you really don’t have to pay attention to a tweet.

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    • As I suspected you are a very wise man and I thank you for your kind words. Fortunately, here in Devon, England we are made of sterner stuff and as they say us Devonians are “thick in the arm and thick in the head”!

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  21. My heart goes out to that young girl’s family.
    That Einstein quote is brilliant. Every major atrocity in the world could have been prevented, had enough people – individual and as a country – spoken out at the right time and place. I agree with Shimon above too. Having made your stand clear, best not to waste your thoughts on those malicious fools. they are just not worth it.

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  22. I can’t believe this sort of thing goes on with the frequency that it does. Another victim of “gay bullying” also took his own life. I am also wondering why suicide seems to be the go- to option. Kids have been getting bullied since…well, forever. It’s not right, but I don’t remember there ever being so many suicides out of it. And I highly doubt that there are not adults aware of the bullying at some turn. Are people so morally bankrupt (or kids have so little of their own self esteem) that they feel they have to participate in bullying someone?

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  23. Bullies can suck it. I think every kid has been bullied at some point growing up (I was called a sow on the playground endlessly) but with all of the technological mediums of today, it’s horrendous. Love your elegant writing and thoughts on this topic!

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  24. The last bog site I was on had some bloggers who were determined to make life unpleasant for some of their fellow bloggers. We called them ‘trolls’. Bullying of any kind is totally inexcusable. these people need to either get a life, or crawl back into the woodwork.

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  25. Such a very sad story, her family must be irate as well as grieving. Its a shame because it is very much the minority who indulge in this sort of behaviour, most people are responsible about what they write. I suppose there will always be someone who wants to aggravate and bully others, but something should be done to clamp down on it. Perhaps not allowing anonymous comments would make a difference, I don’t know.

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      • I know, it’s dead easy and you wonder if it would make a difference, but I think it might well put a few people off. Even if it’s a small percentage of potentially malicious comments it would be worth it.

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