Sticks and Stones And Words That Hurt You

be-an-encourager

I was recently “cat fished”.

In case that’s a word you’re not familiar with, according to Urban Dictionary, here is the definition: Being deceived over online profiles as the deceiver professed their romantic feelings to his/her victim, but isn’t who they say they are.

It’s a loose description. There’s a whole documentary about it. It happens. Usually to older, unsuspecting people, usually women, but I never would’ve thought that it would happen to me. I spent 2 weeks talking to this guy, he was charming and open and lovely and very handsome, mature etc. All the things you would expect. Now, I’m not an online virgin. It’s not like I don’t know the way of the world…but I got duped by this guy. Turns out, he was just out to get his rocks off without having to leave the house. For all I know, he could be a perverted 80 year old man sitting in a retirement home with a laptop and free WiFi.

It happens. I know it happens. Knowing it happens, doesn’t make it any easier when it does happen. I felt like a chump for a few days. How did I miss that? It wasn’t even as though anything major happened. I woke up 2 weeks into it with a niggling feeling I couldn’t shake. And it turns out I was right. No fireworks. No money lost. Just someone with no regard for another human.

So while my ego took a bit of a hit, do you know what was hit even harder? My heart. Knowing that there is someone in the world, someone who got into MY world, who deceives people for hours a day, every single day. How on earth did someone like that get through? How did I not see it?

Anytime something like that happens, whether it’s to me directly, or whether it’s something that happens to another, I feel it. There is nothing awesome about deceiving someone…whether it’s to deliberately cat fish someone, or whether it’s to lie or steal from them. What’s the purpose? To hurt another? Is that how you win?

I just watched a video of one of our weather reporters in Vancouver, on one of the major news networks, get attacked via an anonymous letter because she’s pregnant and the viewers think they have a right to write in and tell her what they think of the clothes she’s wearing and how they think she looks in them. They feel she should be wearing “more appropriate” maternity attire and use words that no one has the right to say to another.  Course if they were well known fashion designers they would’ve signed their names to the letters they sent.  That’s just not nice.

I read that Kathy Griffin is leaving some talk/fashion show she was one of the hosts of because she could no longer perpetuate the culture of bullying celebrities based on how they look or what they wear. While I’m not a huge fan of Kathy Griffin, I applaud her reasons for leaving the show.

And then, just a few minutes ago, I read this post about Monica Lewinsky and her TEDtalk. I saw Monica’s talk on another platform shortly before her TEDtalk in Vancouver. I was excited for her. She had an opportunity to finally face the public and share what her life has been like since she was the first person publicly shamed via the internet.  At 24, what Monica went through, no one should ever have to go through, no matter how old. She isn’t responsible for the state of affairs in America or any other country. She just did what she did when she was 24. Aren’t there things you did in your 20s you cringe thinking about now that you’re older and you know better?

I bet none of those shenanigans ended up on the internet. So this post I just read…Made me cry. Why? Because people can be so hurtful and mean. Social media has made it easier, and quite frankly, acceptable for the most part to be mean to someone online.  Teenagers are killing themselves because of cyber bullying. That is not okay.

When did we stop being awesome to each other? When did it become “normal” to be anything less than kind? Considerate? Aware of another person’s feelings?  I am always mortified by the comments left on photos/posts/youtube videos. When did things become so personal? When did it become okay to hurt someone’s feelings knowingly? Intentionally?

I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t have a solution. It breaks my heart every single day to see things like this go on. Monica Lewinsky is ever so brave for taking what happened to her, for turning her shame into something positive. Something that could potentially make a difference in the world. And yet, people still want to bring her down?

Don’t you think there’s enough of that going on in the world right now?  How about we just stop doing it? How about we go back to lifting each other up, rather than doing whatever we can to tear each other down?

Isn’t that the world you want to live in? One where your kids get to grow up knowing they are awesome? One where you get to tell your friends how awesome they are just because they are. One where you know there isn’t anything that you can’t do because you have people who have your back? A world where you get to wake up every day knowing feeling awesome because you were awesome to another?

Doesn’t THAT sound like a much better world to live in?

So can we please just stop with the mean, hurtful, horrible things and return ourselves back to loving each other?

“We talk a lot about our right to freedom of speech, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of speech.” ~ Monica Lewinsky

Rita xo

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If Not You…Then Who?

Sometimes, we can’t plan it…

Not that long ago, a young teenage girl not far from where I am, killed herself. She’d been bullied in school for quite some time, and she couldn’t take it anymore. We forget, that at that age, our friends, schoolmates, and now, social media, are our whole life. If we don’t have the acceptance of that triad, we have nothing. You might even say, she was bullied to death. I wept when I heard about it, and I watched what happened when a friend of hers created a page on Facebook so friends and family could grieve together, by posting photos and loving messages in her memory. Instead, what happened was, people continued to bully her. Even in death, the comments being made on that page, and on the photos were disturbing. I couldn’t read them. I couldn’t bring myself to know that this poor girl, even after she’d died, still had to undergo the criticism and scrutiny from people who hadn’t actually taken the time to get to know her. To make themselves feel better, they needed to make sure she felt bad about herself.

I shake my head as I write this. That this is what it’s come to. Being grateful to not be in highschool now. I want to cry when I think about my nephews in a few years, entering the schools when this is what is going on. I want to weep for them and for the terrible things that other kids may say to them. I’m not saying I was immune to it. I had some experiences with being bullied, and being mocked, and being made to cry. But never, EVER did I consider killing myself over it. That wasn’t what life was about back then.

It was just easier.

This past weekend, I shared about ownyourawesome while in a course, and doubled over in tears when I talked about the message I want to share with the world, and the world in which I am sharing it into. It doesn’t line up.

How can I possibly tell people that they are awesome and all the reasons why, when kids are literally killing themselves. How can I possibly put out a book telling people how to be awesome, when this is the world we live in? How can I do it? How can I risk being heartbroken every single time someone kills themselves because they couldn’t see how brilliant they really are, or because someone told them they aren’t? The death of the teenage girl, left me heartbroken. But I couldn’t tell anyone that I’d taken it so personally because I didn’t know her. It sounded crazy, in my own head.

See, that’s the thing about not saying something out loud. It makes us sound crazy. Where, once I said it out loud, I could then start to think about something else.

Like..maybe I COULD take the message global.

But I couldn’t see it until I said it out loud. Until I shed the tears and said the words. That I felt I had failed this young girl, and all those who may come after her. For not getting the message out fast enough.  I cried until all I could say was “Who am I to tell anyone anything about anything…”

And the woman who was leading the course, said to me…“Rita. If not you…then who?”

That’s all I needed to hear. My heart is going to break every single time something like this happens. My life is going to alter every single time I hear another story of another person (child or adult) being bullied or taunted for being different, or for being themselves. My conversations are going to get deeper. More fulfilling. My message is going to get out there.

Why? Because THAT is what I said matters to me.

So if there’s something that you want to do that will ultimately change the world you live in…do it. Let’s do it together. Let’s take on a world that isn’t set up for awesome, and plant a flag.

Why? Because we said it mattered.

Anything other than that is just a bunch of background noise.

go be awesome.

Rita