March 15, 2011

I silenced a bully

          I don't normally blog on Tuesdays. But something happened today, and I needed to talk about it. Today, I had the opportunity to witness online bullying up close. And it was very, very ugly. I call it an "opportunity" for two reasons:

  1. It validated the need for the Take The Pledge Campaign, and
  2. It demonstrated that The Mom Pledge can work!
          I was on Twitter this morning when I saw a blogging friend pleading for help. Someone was leaving nasty, hateful comments on her most recent post. She was in tears. Not only because her feelings were hurt, but because she felt she had no control. She didn't know what to do.
          My friend does not have Internet access today, and was finding it difficult to manage the comments from her phone. I told her if she was comfortable giving me her login information, I would go in and get rid of the comments for her.
          I had to delete a LOT of comments. The bully (or bullies - it was not clear) was never brave enough to use her name or any of her personal information. She filled out the profile the commenting software requires with insults like, "You suck," "Get a life," "Grow up" and "You are a terrible parent."
          That was the tame stuff. The person called me (thinking I was the blogger) a coward for taking her comments down. Dared me to defend myself. As soon as I deleted one comment, another took its place.  As I continued to remove her hurtful words, the name calling and threats escalated.
          Let me tell you, it was EXTREMELY difficult not to respond to these comments. Even though I was not the target of the attacks, I had a strong reaction and wanted to say some very ugly things back to her. But that goes against the principles of The Mom Pledge.
          Eventually, she gave up. The comments stopped. The bully was silenced. I felt so proud and vindicated. This was the first time I had seen The Mom Pledge in action. It was an early test; and The Pledge passed with flying colors.
          I can't say she won't come back and try to attack my friend again. But, the blogger in question is currently taking steps to block this individual from commenting on her blog. She has the bully's IP address and will work with the company that manages the commenting software to protect herself from future attacks.
          I was never the target of this attack. But I took it personally because it was aimed at a friend. I get mad whenever I see this behavior on a blog. And unfortunately, it is not uncommon. There is no reason any blogger should ever have to tolerate that kind of behavior.
          I am not an expert on bullying, but I truly believe in standing up and refusing to allow it. The Mom Pledge calls for bloggers being bullied to delete ugly comments without response or acknowledgment of any kind. Then, the attacker has no platform.
           I had an unsettling thought today, too. If The Mom Pledge is successful in silencing bullies, they could take out their frustration by coming after ME. I'll admit that scares me a little. But I will not let it stop the momentum of the Take The Pledge Campaign. It's not about me; it's about all of us.
         I silenced a bully.  And it felt good. I can't step in and help every blogger who is bullied, as I did today. But The Mom Pledge can give them the power to stop it. Please Take The Pledge and join our community! Together, we can make a difference.
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