Silent Movies is the first part of a series of posts. Be sure to follow the link at the bottom of this post to Kristin’s second part.
One of the most interesting and enjoyable aspects of my connections with those rare and precious gems I call friends, is the innate ability we share to be able to carry on an entire conversation, without speaking aloud, either in person or on the telephone. Half of those dear hearts I have never actually been in the same room with, never laid my eyes upon their sweet faces, never been blessed with the RL opportunity to hug the stuffin’ out of them…and yet…those unspoken sentiments come through loud and clear.
Funny then, how I seem to have such an extraordinarily difficult time communicating effectively with, well, pretty much everyone else, IRL or online…which is an interesting irony, considering I am a published journalist and news correspondent. But when life becomes overwhelming or a bit too trying, I become introverted and retrospective, in an effort to think my way out, to find a solution, to examine what it is about me that may have led to the problem, and how I might be able to change myself, so that I may also change my circumstances.
Facing some long term, extremely frightening issues, I have, in the past year or so, become reclusive. So, social media can be both a daunting challenge for me and a useful tool in my efforts to be more outgoing. And, as with most of what I do online, I happened upon Cybersmile wholly by accident. From the Twitter TL of a friend, to that of a celebrity we both enjoy and admire. We never know what might spark an epiphany or cathartic realization; for me, this time, it was one simple sentiment: “FindYourVoice”.
Funny how three short words can carry so far. When I read Cybersmile Ambassador Richard Armitage‘s comment it struck a chord that is still resonating deeply within me. In fact, it struck several. Why? Because I am suddenly reminded of how long ago I gave up my voice, and subsequently, all the reasons why. That phrase was the catalyst to both my first real understanding of the term “bullying”, and to my recognition of all the ways in which bullying has carved and shaped my life and so many of the people in it (If you need any help or support visit our Online Abuse and Cyberbullying Help Centre). I have been bullied into submission. I have been conditioned to remain silent.
I have just begun to truly acknowledge the word. And to me, as others, this simple three-word phrase has become a seed from which many poignant points have rooted. I know I’m not the only one affected by it; a search of the hash-tag at Twitter, proves that the possible interpretations are as innumerable and varied as the individuals who’ve tweeted with it.
I deeply admire and respect the confidence, courage and strength of everyone here at Cybersmile who has reached out for help, or offered it. Additionally, I admire the moxie and honesty Richard Armitage employed when admitting to having been bullied; and equally those virtues he’s developed because of it. I will absolutely not presume to speak Mr. Armitage’s mind for him, (he does that quite eloquently himself, which I thank him for). I will, apparently, be presumptuous enough to speak my own ;-) And while I have no desire to pontificate, I do have a lifetime of personal experience to draw from, an endless pool, it seems, that others may be able to draw from, as well. And if so many others can find the courage to find their voices…and use them…then maybe I can, too.
If You Are Feeling Bullied
Considering the serious nature of the topic of bullying, both online and in the physical world, and also considering how deeply ingrained bullying is throughout my own life, I am compelled to repeat this sentiment, to those who are suffering or witnessing any form of bullying or abuse, which is reiterated all over the pages of Cybersmile:
Tell someone you can trust, and do not stop looking until you have found someone who will listen. Archive chats, save messages and show someone who can help to find a solution. It is the first and most important step you can take (for further information please explore the Cybersmile Help Centre). Please do not continue to suffer alone, or in silence. It is not healthy, it is not safe…and it is not necessary. Within the Cybersmile Foundation alone, there are many people willing and able to help; and there are many more who have reached out and received it. But no one can help you if no one knows what’s happening (You can access 24hr trained support advisors by emailing [email protected]).
To those witnessing bullying behavior and feel helpless against it, I say again, speak up. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to engage, to put one’s self in the middle of it. But if you see this happening online on message boards or social media sites, online gaming sites, IRL at school or on a playground…wherever…tell someone what’s happening, because chances are, the person suffering through it may be too afraid or too ashamed to speak for themselves. Send a private/direct message to a site administrator, flag offensive or inappropriate posts…there are many ways to reach out, and resources here at Cybersmile to learn the technical skills you may be able to use or pass on to someone who needs them.
Find Your Voice
I understand how profoundly important it is for each of us to learn how and when to speak up, and I know how damaging it is when someone simply gives up trying to. But I also know how equally important it is to find a way to express yourself, no matter where your interests and/or talents may lie. We must offer ourselves (and others) an outlet to express what we feel; we all need pleasant, if not productive, distractions, a chance to create or be inspired. During a recent visit to the Currier Museum of Fine Art, in Manchester, New Hampshire (USA), I found myself truly inspired by the many ways in which human beings can create and express emotion, to make a statement without saying a word. Everything I looked at spoke to me.
And that is where I’m guessing each of my dear friends will comment aloud about my hearing voices ;-) lol It’s OK…they’ll love me, anyway, voices or not. Because my most treasured gems and I share another commonality that lends itself not only to being a true friend…but a caring person: we listen.
It is not enough for someone to find the courage to speak up or speak out; there has to be someone strong enough to listen. I’m not here hoping to change the world with my words, or to offer unsolicited advice. I offer kindness and commiseration, with one caveat:
I may not always have the courage…but I will always be strong for those who need strength.
From Me To You
Music plays an important part in my life, so I like to try and finish each of my posts with a suitable Positive Playlist – I hope you enjoy it!
- Anna Nalick – Breath (2am)
- Jason Isbell – 24 Frames
- Great Big Sea – Feel It Turn
- Colin Hay – Waiting For My Real Life To Begin
- Jethro Tull – Skating Away (On the Thin Ice Of a New Day)
- Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear – Silent Movies
If you are affected by anything mentioned in Kristin’s post please email [email protected] for a trained support advisor. For more information about Cybersmile and our work, please explore the suggestions below.
- Bibelots Of a Bullied Mind
- The Human Condition and Social Media
- Every Parents Nightmare – A first hand parents account of a teen cyberbullying suicide.
- Cyberbullying and The Law
- Cybersmile Corporate Program
- Become a Cybersmile Sustainer
- Bully In Progress – The second post in this series
If you would like to contribute to our blog or have any questions/suggestions please email [email protected] for further details.