Monday, January 21, 2013

An instance of cyberbullying

There was a talk about cyberbullying at my local library this week. I learned of it after the fact and am sorry I missed it.

I've been a little too aware of cyberbullying recently in my own life. During the last month, I've thought and said on more than one occasion "I'm glad I'm not a kid!" I was bullied quite badly in elementary school and I know how harmful it is. This may make me "oversensitive" or "sensitive" to it in adult life.  I don't find it all that hurtful now, but I'm usually shocked by it. Why on earth do people think it's okay?

Yesterday I almost "liked" a public page on Facebook for a cause I thought was worthy. I was perusing the page and came upon a post that I found offensive and irrelevant to the cause, so I left a comment. My comment did not accuse, but only asked some questions. The important thing to understand, after the fact, is that I was offended and confused because I did not get a joke. This makes me an open target for bullying:

"LOL you know this is a joke right? . . .to be honest if you are this uptight and PC I dont want your crazy ass here thanks good bye.  . .your confused still aren't you LOL try switching your toothpaste to no floride"

I copied this exactly as it was with a reference to the "in joke"removed. There's no sense in complicating this.

This is bullying to those of us who are bullied.

Those who know me know I'm neither particularly uptight or politically correct. However, even if I was, should I be told that my crazy ass isn't wanted or that I should switch my toothpaste?

This is really sad because the page I wanted to like was one for a good cause. I don't want to get into a public dispute, so I'm not telling what it is though I really would like to. Maybe people who publicly mistreat and tease people who are confused, don't get their jokes, are sensitive or over-sensitive should be outed. I don't know. What I do know is that I have a number of other incidents of late that I'd like to write about, and I will.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


I'm going to quote someone I don't know from Facebook. This person left a comment on a post for everyone to see and so I don't think it's wrong to repost it here:

"I was bullied all though school. . .but never once did I think of killing someone. Dad had guns and ammo around the house in easy access for me to get but never thought of it. Bottom line is the way kids ar raised these days where parents can't discipline their kids without fear of DHS stepping in."

So, you're saying that the fact that parents don't discipline their kids to the point of the Department of Human Services being called in is the reason a bullied kid might kill someone? Is that right?

Someone else chimed with this, "Old fashioned butt woopins never hurt nobody!"


Check this comment out: "I tore my kids butts anywhere and at anytime!"

That comments went on a bit, but was followed by a nice smiley face and an assurance that her kids, now adults, were just fine. Someone else had this to add:

"You can't even look at your kid cross-eyed without worrying about DHS being called. It should be a parent's right to discipline how they deem fit, but there those parents who take it to the extreme ruin it for all of us."

I don't know but "tore my kid's butts" sounds extreme to me, especially with a smiley face.

The thing that saddens me the most is that I see these kinds of posts regularly. Many of the people who post them have had a lot of struggles in their lives with mental health and addiction issues. Can't they see there is a connection? Sadly, the answer is "no." The fact that they survived, and may even be doing well, especially if they are aligned with a 12-step program that puts such a high premium on forgiveness of others and placing the burden of responsibility for addiction squarely on the shoulders of a blameless "disease" but also admonishes its members to turn their "wills and lives over to the care of God" and ask "him to remove our shortcomings. . ."

Well, I've lost my train of thought, but these same people now treat their children just as they were treated and post on Facebook just how grateful they are. Grateful to their parents who abused them.

Y'know, folks in 12-step meetings also say that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

For her

When I was young, my mother would correct me when I referred to her as "her." She thought this was impolite. Let me rewrite the last sentence to illustrate the point: "When I was young, my mother would correct me when I referred to my mother as "her." I'll try to finish this paragraph with my mother's preferred terms: I was going to write, "I thought her silly." Instead, I shall write, "I found my mother's desire for more formal language to be silly."

Yesterday, I read that someone's grandmother would correct her when referred to as "you;" "Would you please pass the potatoes?" though sounding polite to our 21st century ears, was not to her early 20th century ones. I struggled to think of how this woman would have preferred to be addressed. The image of the Lady Dowager from Downton Abbey comes to mind, as would a retort, "Not at all. Thank you very much." Ladies and gentlemen do not pass their own food at the table.

Never mind that. If addressed, one should say, "I would like some potatoes, Mother. Please."

I had always thought these things absurd and was glad to be done with them. But recently I thought about this again, more specifically about pronouns, and do wonder if we've lost more than we've thought.

Some people have suggested we use the pronoun "ze" instead of s/he. I think it's a fine idea, though I doubt it will catch on. Then again, people said that about "Ms." and it did. But, that was only one word. I did wonder what other pronouns would become. Is there a zir or zer for the possessive?

Please do not mistake my questions for intolerance. I've always disliked gender specific pronouns and have substituted "they" most of my life for the s/he binary.

So, while I was pondering, I remembered my mother. She was not a "she." She was My Mother, or Selma. My mind wandered into hospital scenes (of course, as mother died as a result of a car accident). There, she was reduced to a she. She was in a coma. She was on a ventilator. She died. Then, she could have been an it. She was reduced to a pronoun, as most of us are when in hospital. We become instantly objectified; not only are we simply he or she, but single white adult females and juvenile black males.

Without names, we are easily mistreated.

In this age of increasing anonymity, maybe we should all reclaim our names instead of  inventing new pronouns. Maybe we should stop addressing our doctors as Dr. So & So while we submit to be childishly addressed by our first names. Maybe we should correct a nurse when we overhear someone calling us "she" or "that woman."

I am neither a writer nor a serious thinker, so this will end abruptly with a long quote from Bertrand Russell about the demise of the English language. I do believe he was correct:

"A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers."