Bullying in the Blogging Community!

Monday, August 24, 2015

** Updated January 5th 2016 - This situation is still ongoing and escalating :(

It's time that I just sat down in front of my little computer and came clean to you all. This post is something that I have never wanted to write in a million years and I've weighted both the pro's and the con's and I've discussed with friends, bloggers and family how to go about such a controversial and negatively influenced topic. I have decided to write this post for several reasons, which I will talk about below in more detail. I will also be talking about my experiences with this topic as well as tips and tricks of avoiding similar situations both in the blogging world and out in the real world. So it's time to say it. I have been bullied in the blogging community. I have been harassed in the blogging community. And I am here today writing this post, biting at my nails because I believe that my story will inspire others and because NO ONE deserves to be bullied or harassed by anyone. Let alone someone sitting in front of their computers bullying you for the VERY few things you decide to share via your blog and social media. I warn you, you might want to grab some water or a glass of tea and a snack because this post is going to get real and it's going to be long because I do want to cover every aspect because I think it's extremely important for people to know. I know that some people will read this post and feel unsafe or be curious of who I am talking about and I am more than willing to have a conversation with you and discuss this for your own safety both here in the blogging world and out in the real one.

"Use of superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants."

"Involves the use of communication technologies such as the internet, social networking sites, websites, email, text messaging and instant messaging to repeatedly intimidate or harass others. Cyberbullying includes; sending mean ot threatening emails, texts or instant messages.

"Aggressive pressure or intimidation."

1) Bullying is something I take very seriously, but Cyberbullying is something I take even more seriously here in the blogging community. No one, I repeat no one, deserves to be bullied, Online or Offline!

2) I wanted to raise awareness, not only of my situation but of the fact that millions of children, teenagers and adults get bullied every single day. In their home lives, during their jobs, during recreational activities and now during blogging.

3) I want to empower all those that have ever been treated poorly or intimidated by another individual. You are better than the person that beat you down. I want people to not be afraid to face those bullies they may encounter, because maybe if we stand up and say something. It will leave them speechless. 

4) The blogging community is something I hold very close to my heart. I struggled for many years with my self-esteem, my appearance and many other aspects of my life. I joined the blogging community because of how supportive, beautiful and welcoming it was, I didn't even expect to be taken off guard by a bully. And I think the blogging community SHOULD be a place to build each other up, not tear each other down. 

I want to share as much of my story as absolutely possible without making this post be all about me. I've struggled the most with writing this part because it is something very close to my heart and it is something that I find very difficult to talk about. I've cried several times writing this post and I've written it multiple times to get it right. This was actually honestly something I felt that I was going to leave out of this post until I was in the final planning and writing stages. I think to puts bullying and in specific cyberbullying into perspective it's important to share our experiences and to talk about what we have been through. I felt like if I didn't include this portion of the post that I would be doing myself and my readers a disservice. I'm going to run through this pretty quickly, so I hope that you can keep up. I just don't want you all sitting here reading a ten paragraph post of me rambling and such. 

Approximately 8 months ago I joined various different Facebook Groups to help bloggers meet each other and promote their blogs. In these groups, I meet a girl who seemed wonderful, friendly and willing to help me out by answering questions and so forth. At the time, I was really trying to get feedback on my blog and was being asked by members of these groups if I could provide feedback for their blogs. As many of you know I'm very willing to help out any blogger who asks, but I'm also going to be honest with what I think. There is no sense telling you your images are fantastic if they are thumbnail size, blurry or unreadable to the eye. After talking with this girl for several weeks, I decided to give her some feedback on her blog after she had asked for it. I was clear in the beginning that my feedback was absolutely 100% my opinions and thoughts and that I wouldn't sugarcoat anything. Would your boss sugarcoat the truth if you stole $100 bucks from your cash register? No. After giving this advice, it was pretty clear that someone I called a friend at the time was not happy with the things I had thought about her blog. At the time, I had told her again that this was something she had asked for and that I apologized if she got offended. I do want to assure you, I wasn't saying to her that her blog was crap, or her images were awful. It was constructive criticism, in the form of 'Maybe you could try to increase your font size so it's more readable for smaller computers/phone screens'. 

It had become very clear that after we had discussed this that things had got a bit heated. We had agreed to disagree and we moved on. I never thought anything of it until I noticed that this girl had posted several Tweets, Facebook Posts in the Groups and on her Facebook page me about me. After seeing these posts, I contacted her privately and asked if our disagreement had been settled and that she please stop talking so negativity about me on social media. I do also want to say at the time of these posts she had about 2,000 - 4,000 followers on Twitter that were very clearly seeing these rude comments be thrown around about me. I decided in the best interest for me that I was going to block her on various social media channels, just so the issue didn't become any more out of control. This is where the harassment really started. I began to get daily requests on social media from accounts that this girl was continuing to make. Twitter was the biggest place that I noticed this and to this point I still believe her to have around 30 accounts. 

After this stage, this escalated again to the point where daily I was receiving private messages from people screenshotting what this girl was continuing to say about me using my name publicly. I again contacted her through e-mail this time and asked her to stop with no response. For the last few month, she has continued to post about me using my name and letting her followers know that I'm a liar, stealer and many inappropriate names that I don't wish to post here. This girl has even gone as far as to block several of my friends on social media and now attack and belittle them just because they are friends with me. She has also threatened to come to my country, to find my employer's and call them and get me fired. The things this girl has said and done to be has gone way beyond your traditional cyberbullying. Even recently I got sent a screenshot from a fellow blogger which included her threatening me if I actually made this post! I wanted to include in this post just a few of the screenshots and threats she has sent to me over the last few months to really put this into perspective.
At this stage in the cyberbullying, I am choosing to ignore what she says. Every once and a while I will still receive private messages from people showing me screenshots and I will save them in a folder. I do this just in case I have to take further action or something happens out of this. I also do this for personal reference, so that I can come back and look at these messages and know that I am stronger than this and that I can overcome these words. Right now, I believe to have 30 - 40 screenshots of this behaviour and they are something I refer to on a weekly basis because they really have encouraged and empowered me to work harder, smarter and grow as an individual. While I know there are many cases of this type of behavior online, I also know that my case might not be as severe as others have experienced. I want to say that no matter the comment it still hurts a person inside. I still got angry and I still cried because of the things that were being said about me and to me. I even stopped blogging for weeks because I just didn't now how to go about facing the daily harassment and mean words. I am only human and I can only take and do so much. I am very thankful that I am a strong individual with a strong support system who never let me get down for too long. In other situations that may not be the case.

Did you know?
* Bully victims are between 2 and 9 times more likely to consider suicide
* At least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
* Cyberbullying leads to thoughts of suicide more than traditional bullying
* About 42% of youth with tech access report that they have been cyberbullied
* 1 to 10 kids that are cyberbullied do not tell their parents. Only 1 of 5 cyber bullying incidents are reported to authorities.

1) Remember what bullying is and don't blow small comments like, 'your blog sucks' out of proportion. Remember to pick your battles. Let small comments slide right off you back. If you start receiving more threatening comments take appropriate action.

2) Try and deal with all emotional and opinionated matters in a private manner. If you have an issue with a person, use a private form of social media or email to discuss the issue with them and try and resolve it. 

3) Find someone to talk to about the issue. It could be anyone from your best friend to your parents to your grandparents, significant others or a blogging friend. People are always here for you. 

4) Contact the authorities if you feel the bullying reaches a level that you can no longer deal with OR if the issues become more than just being called names. While calling you names is still bullying and slander and can still be a criminal offense, authorities may not take it as seriously. This is different for every country and my recommendation is that if you feel unsafe or threatened in any way you should contact the authorities to discuss you case. 

5) Rise above it and be the bigger person :)

At the end of the day, we all have a choice. We can choose to respond to every single little comment that we get or we can choose to ignore it. It's important to remember that you are on the internet, you are a blogger and you are looked at for EVERYTHING that you do. You are sharing your lives, passions and creativity with millions and there will always be somebody who isn't going to like what you wear, how you look or what you have to say. But it's important to remember that NO ONE deserves to be bullied, no one deserves to feel intimidated and no one deserves to shed tears over things people say through their computers. I know we have all been there and many people reading this post right now might be shaking their heads saying yes, I've been bullied. But I want you to know, for that person sitting reading my post, you overcame that bully. You chose to rise above and be the bigger person and you get to sit here, live your life, blog, be with your family and be happy. Take a minute to think about the facts I shared above, all of us don't get to be here after bullying happens. Cherish the moments you have and remember that you are amazing. Bully's are people who want to be better people but don't know how because they are blinded by the things they don't see or have. Maybe they are lacking love, maybe its passion or creativity. Maybe they struggled through school or in a marriage or maybe their life just isn't what they want. While it's important to always remember that we don't deserve to be bullied, it's also important to take a moment and think of the endless possibilities of why they could be writing and sending you this message. Sometimes you almost have to feel sorry for them. 

Two quotes stand out strongly in my mind when I discuss or even think about this topic and I want to share them all with you today. Sometimes it's good to remember there are people behind us and sometimes it's good to remember a few positives words:

"You spend too much time worrying what other people think of you....A lion doesn't concern himself with the opinion of sheep." (Found on Eva Marie from WWE's Instagram)

"You are not the opinion of somebody who doesn't know you" (Taylor Swift)

I chose to speak out today for the reasons you read above, but I also chose to speak out for many personal reasons that I have not shared. But I wanted to speak out for one reason and it's something I've repeated throughout this post and its something that I always want every single person to remember. And I want it to be the last thing I tell you in this post because it's the most important eleven words I could ever say to you..

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Please visit the websites below to see where I collected my information from and to reach more on Bullying and Cyberbullying; 


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