Posted by: sharonseidel | February 23, 2014

Try A Little Kindness

Yesterday, here in Australia, the news informed us of the sad death of model and TV presenter Charlotte Dawson.  For those who are not Australian, she was a model, originally from NZ who left NZ in her teens, had a successful modelling career and then moved into TV presenting with shows such as Australia’s Next Top Model.  She was just 47 years old.

I was not a fan of Charlotte Dawson, but her death has affected me.  I feel for the senseless loss of a beautiful woman who felt that it had all just become too hard. Charlotte had a well documented struggle with depression for years and had also been the victim of cyber bullying on Twitter.  In the end, her demons when coupled with the pressure of the bullying got too much for her to handle and she took her own life. This is a story which has been repeated time and time again since the advent of social media.  Stories of teenagers who have been so victimised by their classmates and even by strangers that they felt they had no option but to end their lives because it has become so unbearable.

Bullying is nothing new.  I know that many of you would have experienced it in the school yard.  I myself in high school walked home every day for the first two years of high school rather than catch the bus to get away from the older girls that were making my life hell. It is a scary, soul destroying thing to go through. For me at least, when I got home each day, I was safe from the bullies.  Unfortunately with so many ways for everybody to keep in touch in our world, for those suffering bullies now, shutting the front door does not end the torment. There are the text messages, the emails, Facebook and Twitter.  All of these ways to terrorise someone as close as your own Smartphone. Whilst I knew that the bullies would be at school every day, I could breathe out at night and relax.  For those being cyber bullied, it is with them wherever they are.

Many people say that these victims should just grow a thick skin.  I don’t think it is that simple.  Being told that you should “kill yourself” or to “hang yourself already” as Charlotte Dawson was told by those trolling her, is always going to have a negative impact on your emotions and your self image.  I saw a story on Dr Phil that one teenage girl was terrorised to the extent that her tormentors created fake profiles online and gave out her home address to men who turned up at her home wanting sex.  How can you just ignore that?  It threatened her physical safety in her home.  For someone who is already emotionally fragile and suffering depression, the consequences can be tragic.

We all bear responsibility with every word that we say and type.  These cowards hide behind their laptops and keyboards and refuse to consider that the poison that flows from their fingers will have a very real effect on a very real person at the other end.  It is not just words that can be thrown away or simply dismissed as a joke, it gets into their victim’s head and affects them just as much as if it was said in person.  Perhaps even more, as things that are written live on, tweets are re-tweeted, Facebook posts are public. For the victim one attack can continue like ripples in a pond.  It comes back to what our mothers said to us, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

For those who are going through this, remember that these people are in fact cowards who are hiding in cyber space.  The trolls have nothing going for them but the poison dripping from their fingertips, please don’t allow them to have any more power than that. Talk to someone, tell them your fears and your torment, go to the police if you have to, JUST GET HELP. Do not suffer in silence and don’t allow the trolls to feed on your fear and get bolder.  Step away from the keyboard and learn to breathe out again.

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Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing! Great post. Cyber-bullying is dangerous, powerful, and growing. Please check out and share our infographic entitled “Dangers of Cyber Bullying” to help raise awareness.
    http://cmeblogspot.com/2013/11/14/the-dangers-of-cyber-bullying-infographic/

    • Thank you for your comments. When I heard about Charlotte’s death on the news, I felt that I couldn’t let the moment pass without saying something to highlight the issue. I did read the post on your blog, those numbers are just scary and sad that so many of our children suffer with this every day.


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