Apr 30, 2017

I'm an Adult Victim of Cyber-Bullying


Like many Moms, I am part of a lot of social groups on Facebook.  They range from homeschooling co-ops, recipe sharing, mom-to-mom sales, a mom-fitness group and discussion forums to groups that my kids are involved in (sports, etc).  Last night, I was bullied in one of the groups that I'm an active participant in.  I have never experienced anything like it, and as I'm thinking about it - 12 hours later, I am still sick to my stomach.  I couldn't sleep last night and can't even believe that it happened.  

So, here's how it went down.  


Yesterday I had a play-date planned with two of my close friends to take our kids to one of our favorite playgrounds.  Unfortunately, both of my friends were unable to make it so my kids and I still decided to go, and we spent a majority of our day there.  When we arrived there, I noticed there was a group of other Moms there with their young children (probably all 4 and under).  I was actively playing with my kids, taking pictures and following them around.  Our children were never really playing in the same areas and opportunities to socialize with them didn't organically present themselves.  I think it's honest to say that we kept to ourselves and just stuck together.

The last half of our time at the playground, I let my children play in the water.  They have an area specifically dedicated to water play.  It wasn't turned on when we first arrived because it was pretty chilly, but once the sun came out and it got warmer - the park officials turned it on.  Because this is my children's favorite exhibit, they ran right over to play.  We didn't have extra clothes with us, but I didn't mind that they were going to be wet.  It wouldn't be the first time I've had to haul wet kids home ;) One of the Moms came and sat on the bench near us for a few minutes while her child was dancing around the area and talking to my daughter.  She commented how adorable it was to hear my kids giggle and that they look like they're having a blast.  They were.

After awhile, the kids from the group that I previously mentioned came down and started watching my kids play in the water.  It's down the hill from where most of the parents were, so I made sure to stand right by the water in case anyone fell in.  One of the boys leaned down to look inside to see a frog that all of the kids were gathered around.  I looked up and smiled when one of the Moms was walking down the hill because I thought it was sweet that all the kids were huddled together and checking out the frog.  The mom nicely told her kids that she didn't want them to play in the water today and guided them back up the hill to blow bubbles.  A few minutes later, another boy came down to watch.  At this time, my Son (5) was splashing in a puddle by jumping on and off a rock.  The little boy was standing right at the edge of the pond and his Mom was coming down the hill.  This is the Mom that later started an argument with me online.  She shot me a look but I didn't think much of it, as I just imagined she was frustrated that she had to keep coming down the hill to get her child. I would probably be annoyed, too.  So I didn't respond but felt empathy for her.  Her child was then splashed with some water while my son was jumping.  She grabbed her son's arm and pulled him away from the water while giving me a disgusted look.  I said to her, "I'm sorry, It's just water" in a nice voice, trying to help her see that it's okay.  I have been frustrated with my kids before and saw things out of perspective.  I got it.  But in hindsight, I shouldn't have said anything to her at all - because her perception of my apology and statement was that I was judging her for not letting the kids play in the water.  She also accused me of being snarky and behaving like I was 'too good' for the other Moms because I didn't go up to them and socialize with them.  Again, I was playing with my kids and we were not a part of that group outing.  Until later in the night, I didn't even know there was a problem.

We continued to play and enjoy our day.  As we were leaving, my daughter commented that it was the 'best day ever' and we all fully enjoyed ourselves.  We made it back to our car and went home.

That night, after I had gotten the kids to bed and the house cleaned up, I was laying in bed and mindlessly surfing facebook, I saw a post that identified me as a "random mom" who was being snarky, rude and judgy.  She called me out for saying "I'm sorry, it's just water" and made it into a HUGE deal.  Within 20 minutes there were over 100 comments on that post.  Everyone but her was taking my side, telling her that this post was mean and mom-shaming and that she should take it down.  With every comment, she made the situation worse and worse by saying things that weren't true.  About a half hour in, I was being told to "go eat another cheeseburger" and repeatedly slandered about these things that I didn't even do.  She made it sound like it was too cold and unsafe for me to allow my children to play in the water by saying it was cloudy and cold, which also wasn't true.  

People in the group were sending me an outpouring of messages, telling me they were sorry for what she was saying, asking me if I was okay, etc.  Everyone was in complete agreement that how she was acting was not okay but no one could do anything to stop her, it kept spiraling out of control.  

My heart was racing, I felt sick to my stomach, and I couldn't help but respond and continue to defend myself. Eventually, I felt like I was being harassed and I was just praying she would delete the post.  She finally did, or one of the admins did - I am not sure which.  People kept tagging the admins and asking them to help, but this was near and after midnight and a lot of people were probably already asleep.

I was bullied as a child in school by two people that I ended up confronting later in life and telling them what a profound impact their behavior had on me.  They both apologized and said that they were also bullied and feel badly for their actions.  

I am surprised, that as a 32-year old adult, that is a Mother who teaches her children about these things - that I have allowed myself to be so upset over this.  Especially after I faced and dealt with my childhood bullying.  It just goes to enforce what a HUGE issue cyber-bullying is (and all bullying for that matter) and how it can affect everyone at any age.  No matter what you want to call it; Mom-shaming, fat-shaming, bullying, whatever - it's not right and it has to stop!  Children are learning these behaviors from their parents! This is one of the main reasons that bullying remains a constant issue and we are seeing it in kids as young as elementary school.

As adults, and parents, we need to come together and put a stop to behaviors like this.  I am so proud of the dozens of fellow Moms that stood up for me last night, people that don't even know me and some that did.  People that stood up for what was right even though some of them were then being shamed and bullied for the things that they said in my defense.  I didn't realize things like this still happen and I certainly didn't realize how much it hurts.  It's 1 pm today, on a nice day - when the kids and I could be out and about on more adventures; and we're home - because I feel afraid to go out to the park and play.  I know I can't let this affect me (and my kids) like this, but I also feel like I needed this day to get over all of the feelings from yesterday and just find my center again.

I encourage all people, not just moms, not just parents - but all humans - to recognize and respect that people have the freedom to make decisions for themselves.  Just because something works for you doesn't mean it should/will work for another. Part of what makes humanity so incredible and beautiful is the fact that we are all different and all have different things to bring to the table.  Please, for the love of our children who will live in the shadows of our examples; always do what's right - even when it's the hard thing to do.  You'll make the world a better place because of it.

xox
Robin
Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger 




4 comments :

  1. Oh wow! I hate you had to go through that. There is quite a lot of that that goes on in the facebook groups. It is easy to hide behind a computer and say bad things. Hope you are feeling better. Hugs!

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    1. Appreciate your kindness, Lisa <3

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  2. I think that is awful and disrespectful.why should have to socialize with them? Really? I dont socailize with moms all the time, i guess i think iam too good too. Lol lol not really.i emphasis with you i have a sil who acts like that. So sorry u had to go through that.pure ignorance on this ladys behalf. U keep being u.u are very intelligent and dont let that stuipidy of others change that.

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    1. Thanks for the love, Chelesa! Xo!

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