Back in the late-80s through early-90s, I was a scrawny little, nerdy thing with braces and glasses. I had always been this way, but there was something about middle school and high school that made other children notice my puny geekiness even more. I was teased, called names, and even had a girl or two threaten to fight me for daring to say that someone who verbally harassed me was a “bitch.” Sure, I was bullied, though not to the extent that kids today are. And I am also ashamed to admit that I am pretty sure (thought I can't remember), there was probably a kid or two who I gave as good as I was getting [though I doubt I ever threatened to fight anyone — when you weigh 70 or 80 pounds, it's just not a smart thing to do…]. At some point by the end of high school, no one really seemed to care that I was 90 pounds at 5'7″ [with the exception of (1) this overweight girl who used to call me Olive Oyl every day; and (2) my friends who would get visibly upset watching me scarf down enough lunch for two people without putting on a single pound, while it was all they could do to keep their weight in check], a complete drama geek, and vice president of our chapter of the National Honor Society. Nor did anyone care that I didn't have a cool bone in my body. By college and law school, I was actually (gasp!) one of the popular gals. With all those traumatic years of middle school and the beginning of high school far, far behind me, I thought I had long left the days of bullies. Boy was I ever wrong.
I was reintroduced to the world of bullies shortly after becoming pregnant with Pop Culture Toddler. I joined a parenting message board. Although my time on that site was generally wonderful, and I have made some great and hopefully lifelong friends out of the process, I also witnessed behavior that I thought was left behind junior year of high school. I was pregnant with Pop Culture Toddler during an election year. Now, politics and pregnancy hormones generally don't mix as it is; however, some of these ladies took things to the extreme. I witnessed a now-friend of mine (a lovely lady who I have hung out with in person a number of times, who I know to be a loyal and generous friend) called “terrorist,” simply because she is Muslim. There were a few girls on one of my expecting boards who prided themselves on being the Bad Mommy club, who would pick fights with other moms just to entertain themselves. When the admins cracked down on the drama on our board, they started picking fights with other expecting months and even a competing website. I also witnessed one crazy mother on my other expecting board who, in addition to bragging about throwing a television set at her husband, constantly harassed other mothers, called one mother the “N” word in her “happy birthday” message, and made comments about vile things (which I will not repeat) that she did while looking at pictures of our children. I have also seen people come to board designated for blended, bi-racial/multi-ethnic, and (unofficial) LGBT families and make either racist, bigoted, separatist or homophobic comments, just to get their jollies. I have seen all of this by people who are allegedly there to have support during their (or their partners') pregnancies and life as parents. Yes, these crazy people (assuming the majority of them weren't true trolls) are raising children. Sad.
This wasn't the end of it. As a Featured Blogger on that same website, I would often get comments from people who apparently had nothing better to do with their time than pick on the bloggers. Although I have always been that mother who maintains that things I do and advocate are what's right for my family and my family alone, I would get several comments either accusing me of thinking I'm “always right” or just outright attacking me for things I did — very personal parenting choices. Whether it was my decision to practice attachment parenting, following my pediatrician's advice for calcium substitutes for my milk-allergen carrying kid, my husband's and my decision to pierce our infant daughter's ears, or my choice to breast feed in public, there was always some parent (not always women, mind you) who had something snarky and hateful to say.
I saw my other mommy friends attacked, too. One of my friends was attacked for daring to enjoy a vacation with her husband while her in-laws watched her children. Recently, I have watched with horror as one of my dearest friends gets attacked on a constant basis. In some cases, we know or at least suspect who some of these cyberbullies are. In others, it's the same sort of cyberbully who attacked me — idiots who think that the anonymity provided by the Internet gives them free license to be hateful. I have even recently heard the case of one mother who was basically attacked as an “accomplice” in her child's accidental death, while his pictures were stolen off her blog and co-opted as a poster child for their cause by the same group attacking her. It's all immature, deplorable behavior.
Now there's nothing wrong with expressing an opposing view, but there is something wrong with being hateful and ugly in expressing that view. Not to mention, it gets you nowhere.
This is why I was so glad to hear about the Mommy Blogger Pledge. It's time for bloggers to take control and bring civility back to discourse. Sure, we cannot control the actions of others, but we can take control of how we react to it. I can't stop someone from calling me names or harshly criticizing my actions, but I can choose not to engage in similar behavior and to delete the offending comments before a comment thread gets out of hand. I will not feed the trolls.
If we want to teach our children that bullying is wrong, it's important that we set a good example. If you have a blog, I invite you to take The Pledge, and if you don't, I implore you to consider The Pledge when leaving comments on others' blogs.
7 thoughts on “Taking the Pledge Against Cyber Bullying”
Yay for not giving bullies a platform! It's my fervent hope that so many Mommy Bloggers will take the pledge that the so-called adult bullies will have no place to spew their hateful and intolerant nonsense.
OK, can I just say that the comment above is my goal for The Mom Pledge? Hear, hear!
As far as this post goes, I'm so sorry you have had those experiences. I hear terrible things from many women about message boards. “Deplorable” is exactly the right way to explain such behavior. I simply do not get it.
Aww,PCM, I lurvs ya. Without you and the rest of the girls I never would have survived the bullies. Thanks for picking me up each time I fell to pieces.
Okay JUST saw this post now… seeing how the timing of mine may have been taken wrong..
*note* I sometimes write my blogs and then post them all at one time. So that blog was not even from last night, I just posted it then.
A public note to Pop Culture Mom-
I have since back in September held you in the highest regard of mommy bloggers. I feel you handle things with a mature path of thinking. You are a good person to look up to when it comes to avoiding and diffusing drama.
I have nothing but respect for you, that is the hand in the air sworn truth of it.
Thank you for being an example to others about how to react and how to deal with drama.
Much blogger love and best wishes-
Mom E and The Joyful Three
Thanks, Mom E!
And, BostonsMama/The Author, I love you too! My heart breaks and my blood boils every time I see commenters picking on you on your blog. People really just need to grow up. And if they don't like your blog, seems like their lives would be easier if they would just STOP READING it!
Another excellent post! I've taken the pledge as well: http://www.whattoexpect.com/blogs/motherhoodbydesignperfectlyimperfecttoddlerparenti/i-took-a-pledge-to-stop-bullies-online
Feel free to leave a link to your post in my comments section if you stop by!