Would you rather your child was kind or smart?
It’s a something I was asked in a personality quiz this week (I’m an Advocate FYI) and it got me thinking. Not about my answer, because I’d much rather my child was a nice person than someone who got 100% in everything, but about those who wouldn’t rather their kids were nice, and what happens to them as they grow up.
Thinking back to my childhood, I was bullied a fair bit. Obviously, I was tall, I had ginger hair, pale skin and I stood out. An easy target in a school of hundreds of blondes and brunettes – you could literally spot me a mile off in the corridor. It didn’t help that our blazers were green, so my nickname, of course, was the jolly green giant.
Except I wasn’t jolly. I was bloody miserable.
I kind of got used to it, learned to laugh at the situation myself, which seemed to help. If I could crack a joke about me before anyone else did, then I stole their thunder. It kind of made me who I am, a little bit sarcastic (a lot, a lot sarcastic) and willing to make a tit out of myself to make people laugh. Sticks and stone and all that.
But unfortunately, some kids don’t grow out of the bully mentality, they carry it with them into adulthood, and they’re not always the people you expect them to be.
We’ve all been taught that the internet is a dangerous place, where keyboard warriors and bullies go, to spread their hate. We’re all hyper aware of what our kids see, to know that they’re talking to the right people and keeping them away from the wrong ones. But what happens when you’re an adult on the receiving end of online bullying? What do you do then?
Considering all of the work I do is online, I have been lucky in that I’ve only ever met lovely, supportive people and, touch wood, my children have experienced the same. But recently, I’ve had a situation where someone has taken it upon themselves to write nasty things online, about me, but they’ve done it in #nomention statuses. You know the kind, not saying my name, but just hinting at it. Getting people to do the equivalent of “you ok hun?” but more along the lines of “oh my god who?”. I suppose naming names would mean they would have to tell the truth……
Surprisingly, it affected me more than I thought it would. Not because I cared about what this person thought of me, because I didn’t. I don’t. But because I didn’t want other people to think what was written was true. And because I had no control over it. I can filter what I put online, I can even remove what my kids put online, but I have zero control over what someone else does – even when it’s about me and, when it’s not true.
What I’ve realised is, happy people don’t go online to spew hateful words. They have no need. It’s the unhappy people, the ones who, for whatever reason, want to hurt others, or drag them down a little bit that think saying something from the safety of their computer or phone, never face to face because that would be brave, is the way to go. Backbiting. Sniping. Nasty. Not words I want associated to me, but, maybe some people do. Perhaps they’re proud, they think they’re doing the world a service by sharing their opinion on someone, something.
But what’s an opinion? It’s not fact. It doesn’t even need to be truth. It’s just a sentence. Words thrown together in a way that’s designed to either hurt, or to make other people think negatively of someone.
The keyboard warriors, the online bullies, the real life bullies, they’re not happy with their lives. That’s sad, of course, but it doesn’t give them a right to judge anyone, to comment on the way other people live their lives, how they bring up their children, what they eat for dinner or how they do their hair. They have no rights. They’re inconsequential to your life. (Big words being used here people, this is how I show I’m in serious mode).
Of course it feels like a kick in the teeth. It hurts, you feel like everyone is looking at you and wondering “is that true?” and you feel like you either need to explain, or hide.
Neither. You don’t need to do either.
The emotions will pass. You’ll probably go from upset to angry but then you’ll arrive at pity. Pity for the person who thinks their words, their lies, will affect you.
When someones is nasty, or treats you poorly, don’t take it personally. It says nothing about you but a lot about them.
My advice, for what it’s worth, is if something like this happens, talk to your friends, your loved ones. The people who know you and love you. Get it off your chest, laugh about it when you can and then forget it. Forget that the person exists. Forget the status or the comments. It’s their problem, not yours.
Kindness is underrated – it’s so much easier to be nice than it is to be nasty. And, don’t forget, karma is a bitch.