Everyone in every industry, every walk of life, and every age gets it at some point in this digital age. Sometimes it comes with the boldness of one who is willing to let their names and faces be known, but most often these folks are veiled and hidden behind the cloak of the “anonymous” poster. I have appreciated how people like Tina Fey have handled this at times. Most of these “anonymous” people rant about their feelings on things and people in the most cowardly way. There is no consequence to their actions, or so they think, as they angrily type away whole heartedly believing they are going to suddenly convince the focus of their hatred to agree that their fatuous and puerile tirades are worth adhering to. What amount of foolishness lives inside of a person to feel they have that much authority to rebuke a complete stranger is beyond my ability and desire to comprehend. Nonetheless, it is an epidemic that exists in our world today, and most of us know this as: bullying.
I was bullied a fair amount as a kid. Children have the most wonderfully innocent capacity to point out all of the things they find strange in the world around them, and unfortunately, this can easily turn cruel and harmful. Sometimes it’s having a gap in your teeth, or ears that stick out a little too far, or even adults who look down on you and your parents for the freedoms you are given to explore who you are. Be this as it may, my generation was taught to overcome this by simply getting over it, to let it roll off your back and move on. In a short while, you’ll forget those things were even said and you’ll go back to riding bikes and watching cartoons. I can’t even imagine life as a young person in this day and age. The amount of cyber bullying that happens is absolutely dumbfounding. How does someone learn to let things roll off of their back when it’s posted for all to see in an arena that seems to have no interest in the idea of “deleting.” What is more, is that we put so much stock into these virtual lives we’ve created on facebook and twitter. It’s tempting to believe that the illusion of likes and follows equals success. But does it?
There have been numerous studies that are being touted by the Dr. Oz’s and Dr. Phil’s all over the U.S. explaining the negative psychological affects of the social media age. The false sense of identity, whether it is an inflated ego, narcissism, or harassment from individuals who “feel safe” behind a computer screen, are all becoming the main topic of discussion amongst psychologists and their patients. This is a bigger deal than any of us realize.
So what do we do about it? How do we combat the devastating affects of a world that appears to be driven by social media. From what I can tell, it’s realizing that the world is not driven by social media - it is merely enhanced. Social media has nothing to do with the decisions I make as a business owner. It does not direct whether or not I am hungry and choose to remedy that hunger by eating. It does not pay my bills. It is a tool. A tool I can use to publish personal or professional information, but it is nothing more than that. It does not forgo my ability to connect with people face to face and have real life relationships and conversations. And it most definitely does not have the right or the authority to dictate the truth about who I am, what I’ve done, or what I believe. This is easier for older generations to live by, but I fear for the those whose lives are founded on what they see, read, and believe on the internet.
If we’ve learned anything from eras like America’s prohibition, it is that we cannot legislate morality. We can, however, choose to rise above the cyber bullies by looking within and understanding ourselves, both in strength and weakness, and find confidence through our faith to live out the truth of who we are, whether some anonymous madcap sees it or not. After all, why in the world would we let strangers define us? In fact, I feel kind of sad for these people who are so filled with hatred and disgust for themselves, that they fuel their self contempt towards people they have never met. What bothers me most about it, is these folks could be more effective in supporting the things they love than they are in attacking the things they hate. I don’t expect everyone to like me. If you don’t like me, don’t buy my music, don’t read my blogs, don’t come to my shows. I don’t want you there if you don’t want to be there. I think every business owner feels this way. If you hate Target, don’t shop at Target. If you don’t like milk, don’t drink milk. If you’re not a Belieber, don’t buy his music. It would befit the haters to know that most of their attackers don’t really care if they hate them. They will continue being them and doing what they do, because they know that these attackers are ignorant to truths that make people who they are. The attacked know their attackers are driven by a blind passion of self interest and self hatred, and if they’re anything like me, they pray for each person anonymous, or otherwise, who throws the kind of cheap punches only a bully can throw. However, a bully can only bully someone who will allow themselves to be bullied.
To those of you who face this from people you know, that last sentence is probably the most important one for you to read. A BULLY CAN ONLY BULLY SOMEONE WHO WILL ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE BULLIED. You can be patient, compassionate, and humble and still not get trampled by someone else's lack of confidence in themselves. People act in ignorance, fear, and confusion on a number of levels over a number of issues. Because we are human and fallible, we cannot expect perfection from each other, but we can learn to be compassionate towards each other, and even more towards ourselves. It’s amazing what happens when we respond to anger with kindness. In fact, scripture teaches that it is kindness that leads us to repentance. I would rather learn how to forgive, to extend kindness, and become a better person than to stoop to a level of aggravated gossip and unproductive slander. Getting into a round of droll debates with vacuous people is not worth anyone's time.
The point here is to love. People can spin and bend anything to make themselves appear to be victims, if they want to do so. People can interpret all kinds of things in all kinds of ways, should they be unwilling to hear the other side of the story. When we cross the stubbornness of people unwilling to see the truth, we “shake the dust off of our sandals as we leave the city.” It is not my job, nor yours, to convince people of the truth. God is big enough to do that. In the end, the truth will come out, and we will be all the better for ignoring the bullying, and moving on with our lives. Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Self-Control - these are the ways in which I want to live. These are the things that matter most to me.
Until Next Time
Take care of your hearts and ears
~Listen With Your Heart~