You can read more of Kristin’s contributions to Cybersmile by exploring the links at the end of this post!
As I become more immersed in the anti-cyberbullying movement, I become more amazed and inspired by all those who speak up, speak out and lend endless efforts to stopping online bullying and harassment. But I find myself equally as amazed by the fact that there is one large group of people not being represented, in such that they will not speak up for themselves…and it hasn’t occurred to any of us to do so, on their behalf.
There’s a man who is a musician, part of a very popular Canadian band; I cannot say I know him, but I’ve had the pleasure of a great many conversations with him. He is popular, he is personable, gracious, cheeky, and warmly down-to-earth. Over the course of the past 20 years, he has, unfortunately, garnered his self the attentions of a pair of stalkers, who harry and harass him, both online and IRL (if you need any help with any form of online negativity please email [email protected] or explore our total access support services).
These two stalkers do not bully him, per se, regardless of their frightening and wildly inappropriate behaviors. They do, however, bully those of us who have voiced concerns and outright offense at the lengths they go to (like going through his trash, or breaking into his cabin), while professing “respect” and “admiration”. This talented, successful musician, devoted husband and father, and all-around wicked good guy, will never publicly note or speak out against them. He accepts their actions as part of his life in the spotlight. Why? He simply doesn’t want to speak out against his “fans”, or cause a stir, or a public scene. And I’d bet my last dollar that the vast majority of celebrities and public figures suffer silently for the exact same reasons.
The internet and social media sites make it possible and easy to interact with virtually anyone we please…including those, like athletes, celebrities and public figures, who traditionally and historically, were not “reachable”. Personally, my hard-wired shyness usually prevents me from reaching out, I am awkward and not that brave lol ; but I do admire and enjoy the way so many others freely interact. I also deeply appreciate comments and blog posts that are delivered with respect, tact and decorum, encouragement and support…even a little grace and good humor…out of admiration and even adoration.
But I’m too often deeply disturbed by the sheer volume of comments and posts that are NOT. Frankly, I have been outright horrified by how people obsess over, and downright objectify, celebrities they claim to admire, or respect.
Exactly how and when did it become acceptable to publicly post a two-word invitation for sex (the first being a four-lettered expletive, second being “me”) on a Twitter time-line? Especially when posted in response to an innocuous, or worse yet, earnest, tweet written by a celebrity…?
Yes, they have chosen to live “in the spotlight”. Yes, attractiveness is part and parcel of certain industries. But it doesn’t give us license to bully or harass, make lewd comments in public forums, or hurl vulgarities. That’s not respect.
Trust me when I say I DO understand how easy it is to get caught up in the excitement of “admiration”. The first forum I ever belonged to was a private message board dedicated to a very lively and enjoyable band. As it happens, all of the band members are very attractive men, who are also charming, personable and, well, adorable. There was one particularly memorable event I’ll relay, in example (sometimes I hate being honest lol): several respectable, virtuous women once had a very exuberant conversation regarding the intrigue of fictional, hypothetical, plastic-cling-wrap trousers.
Yes. Yes I did just say that. No, it was NOT my idea…but it seemed like a wicked good one, at the time. One of the moderators, also a dear friend, had a few giggles before stepping in to gently remind us of who we are and why we had gathered on the board: to show respect, appreciation, and admiration for our favorite “b’ys”. Then she reminded us that our b’ys DID frequent the forum, since their official forum was shut down due to animosity, bullying, harassment and inappropriate behavior. She was also kind enough to remind us that their mothers, wives and girlfriends probably popped in, too. There was much deleting that day, and more than a few sincere apologies offered. (And yes, I’m still appropriately ashamed lol)
Point is, it IS far too easy for any of us to get caught up in excitement, especially online where we are not interacting face-to-face. And, while I have no desire to judge, to deride, or to preach, I do wish to offer experience and another point of view.
Can vs Should
Before you post anything racy in/on a public venue…think about what you’re about to say to someone you supposedly admire, please (check out our guide to netiquette for further information). Then ask yourself if you would say it in person. That gorgeous, sexy young woman you’re a fan of likely doesn’t want to endure inappropriate comments about any of her individual body parts, ignoring her talent, skills or successes; could you compliment her beauty, and then express support, encouragement or admiration, instead? Yes, that fine man is not only an award-winning actor, but darn good-looking, as well. Yet, do we really need five 1,000+ word blog posts regarding the attributes of his bum? Or a 20-frame photo montage of his derriere and crotch? Intriguing? Maybe, yes. Respectful? Nawtsa much.
Count yourself certain that celebrities DO peruse replies, fan sites, forums and blogs. Consider it likely that their families, representatives and loved ones likely do, too. There is a marked difference between naughty and downright dirty. The former can be acceptable, when delivered with respect, decorum, grace and good humor. The latter can undoubtedly be disturbingly inappropriate for public posting, especially when one considers the vast age-range of online users, but may be OK in a private forum, or email/DM.
Conversely, obsessive outpourings of love may be equally unwanted or uncomfortable for the recipients. As to the definition of that “love”, I offer a gentle truth: no matter how much we may know about someone, we cannot say we know them unless we’ve been invited to share personal (or professional) interactions, actually spent time conversing, been allowed the opportunity to get to know them. It saddens me when I see someone obsessing over a person they have never met; phrases like “in love” bother me deeply, when such real emotions are misplaced, or misconstrued by fantasy.
We, as human beings, have the unique ability to fantasize; we all do it. I know I do. Recently, I happened upon a man I had been largely “unaware of”; yet, due to his work, his many fine attributes, his great talent, his graciousness and kindness with his fans…well, the more I know, the more I admire him. And I will admit (darn that honesty) he has become quite a distraction for me. And yes, even occasionally a fantasy.
What prevents my distraction and fantasy from turning into an unhealthy obsession is the fact that I recognize that the man in my mind, the one in my dreams and fantasies…IS NOT REAL.
He is a fictional character that my harried, weary, beleaguered mind has cooked up, using real-life attributes of a seemingly exceptional man that I will likely never know. And I have to acknowledge the real possibility that that man may be vastly different, IRL, than all I imagine him to be. But that’s exactly the point of fantasy…we can create, in the privacy of our own minds, whatever we want, most. In this case, he represents not ‘the man I want for myself’, but the kind of person I want to be, myself. In short, the man inside my head represents an ideal.
(great, my dear hearts are gonna have field day with that one…there’s people in my head…well, at least we know where the voices come from lol )
The human heart is an amazing entity, capable of immense love and profound care; love can be ascribed to anyone or anything in existence, it takes as many forms as there are beings to feel it. But truly, gently, I wonder, can anyone “be in love” with someone we do not know? To me the phrase suggests reciprocity. I only mention this so that each of us might remember to be careful with our own hearts, as well.
Personally, if some one or some thing does not appeal to me or strike my fancy…I move on, toward innumerable alternatives. I cannot understand trolling, at all. If you’re not interested enough to support someone, why would you waste your own precious time and energy by continuously making disparaging comments? Why impose such unhealthy negativity on yourself…or others?
As cyber-space allows us to interact in ways historically unavailable, we could all benefit from the gentle reminder that behind every Twitter or Instagram or Facebook profile…is a live human being, with feelings and thoughts as real and valid as our own. The fact that you CAN, does not mean you SHOULD. No one should have to suffer bullying or inappropriate attention, in silence, no matter who they are or what they do for a living, whether in the spotlight, the limelight, the public eye…or the audience.
#BeKind #BePositive #BeRespectful
From Me To You
As you might or might not know, music plays an important role in my life. I try to finish each post with a suitable Positive Playlist – I hope you enjoy it!
- Hoosier – Someone New
- Kale – All the Pretty Girls
- Beirut – No No NO
- Y &T (Yesterday & Tomorrow) – Summertime Girls
- Michael Franti & Spearhead – I’m Alive
- The Pretenders – Human
- Sting – Can’t Stop Thinking About You
If you are affected by any issues touched upon in this post or need a bit of support with your digital life, please visit our cyberbullying and digital abuse help center or email [email protected] to access our support network. For further information about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the following recommendations.
- Bully In Progress – A previous post by Kristin
- Every Parents Nightmare – A first hand parents account of a teen cyberbullying suicide
- Who Are Cybersmile?
- Cybersmile Community Forum
- Too Much Ado About Nothing – A previous post by Kristin
- Corporate Partner Program
- Adult Guide To Cyberbullying And Abuse Online
- Become A Cybersmile Sustainer
If you would like to contribute to our blog or have any questions/ideas, please email [email protected] and someone will be in touch!