Cyberbullying. Trolling. Flaming. Straight up being mean from behind a screen.
Call it what you will, but it’s rampant. It is an understatement to say that this is not a huge problem in our society. There are too many heartbreaking stories of teens taking their lives after being continually harassed online and in person. Adults do it too. Look at any comment section of any news article. You will see nasty comments made from all types and ages of people, for no apparent reason at all.
I think it’s safe to say that many of us has experienced some form of bullying, including myself.
Let me set the scene… It was 2002, back when AOL instant messenger was cool, and back when you had to patiently wait for the dial up to connect to get online. One day I saw THE screen name pop up-the screen name of the cute senior that all the girls adored. He was messaging me, a sophomore! I was surprised he even knew I existed. We started getting close, and spent many afternoons chatting. He told me he thought I was pretty and how he wanted to take me on a real date. I was FREAKING OUT. This hot senior actually liked me!?!?
Meanwhile, I had an elective class with a senior girl who befriended me. She was always complimenting me and saying how cool I was for a younger girl. She would also tell me how her friend was totally into me and how we would make a cute couple. We talked about everything, even about getting a limo all together for the Homecoming dance. She was always so nice to me.
I was officially feeling on top on the world.
I didn’t tell many of my real friends. I mainly shared all about my online chats with my new bff. I kept asking her why he would only quickly say hello when he saw me at school. She convinced me he was shy or that maybe he didn’t see me. For the first few weeks, I didn’t care that he barely said hey. Our private conversations were deep and personal. He HAD to like me.
But as time went on, I started to get annoyed. This guy who told me he was “starting to fall for me” would never give more than a smile in the hallway. What was his deal?
So I asked him during our next chat session. I finally said “What’s going on? Do you like me or not.” He told me again, “Of course. Let’s meet up alone tomorrow.” He gave me the time and place. He casually said, “You should wear red. I love when you wear red”
OMG! I went home and dreamed about our future. I imagined how we would be hand-in hand at school and finally everyone would know about our relationship. I went to the mall and bought a new red shirt. I bought some new makeup and woke up at 5am to get ready.
When it was time to meet, I was so excited that I arrived a few minutes early. Sitting there alone, I was insanely nervous.
Then it happened.
My new bestie, a girl I trusted, walked up arm and arm with him. She kissed him right in front of me. I was confused. I didn’t know what was happening. She exploded in laughter and said, “Did you ACTUALLY think he liked you. Did you ACTUALLY think you had something real with him? Why would we be real friends? I don’t even like you”
It was all a lie. It was her the whole time. I was Catfished before it was a thing.
Not only was I humiliated, but she had all of our conversations printed out. She and her friends laughed and made fun of me for months after that. I struggled so much with my thoughts and thinking I had nothing to offer. I jumped quickly into a relationship to prove to myself I was worth something. I made choices that I would never make now, just so I felt loved by others.
To this day, I will never understand the motive behind her cruel prank, but I’ve forgiven and moved on.
I know some mean girl won’t break me.
Of course my story took place just a few (ok, 14) years ago, back before social media and instant access to everything on your IPhone. Now more than ever, we girls need to come together and stop being mean. We have to stand up for ourselves and each other. Never be a bystander to bullying, online or face-to face. AND PLEASEEEEE, if you would not say something to someone’s face, do not type it on a screen.
If you are being bullied online or in person, here are three pieces of advice:
Tell someone: Find a genuine friend for support. Find someone you can share with that you can count on to pick you back up. If you don’t have a friend, I will be your friend. (I’m serious. You can contact me through Lovely’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or by filling out the contact us form at the top of this page)
Kill them with kindness: This totally freaks bullies out. When we go down to their level, they are winning. Hold your head up high be confident in yourself.
Stay positive: Know that you are not alone and this is not your fault. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can control what we tell ourselves. Hang in there, Lovely girl. It will get better. Remember despite the haters, your life has a purpose that only you can fulfill.
I encourage you to be kind with your words and actions on social media and in real life- because ladies, we are in this together! Life is far too short to be nasty. Let’s uplift each other one character at a time.