March 9, 2012


‎"If one doesn't want their choices questioned then they need to stay off the internet." (sic)

I have been criticized for starting The Mom Pledge. Some feel it is not necessary, not a worthy cause. That moms online are a bunch of whiners. The sentiment above - or a variety of it - is regularly stated.

Yes, if you put yourself out there, sharing your life on the internet, you should be prepared for people to disagree with you. Not everyone is going to like you or what you have to say. The same is true of real life, so why should the internet be any different?

Disagreeing with someone respectfully is not bullying. But that is an uncommon thing to see online. Often, those who disagree do not treat others with respect. They do not behave in a civil manner. They are usually the ones making the above statement.

The people who seem to have the most difficulty recognizing cyber bullying behavior are the ones engaging in it. They become defensive when their behavior is questioned. Excuse and justify their actions. Point a finger at others. They argue about the meaning of words like "bully" and "troll."

If you've been labeled one of those, why not follow the same advice Dr. Erika Holiday offered to victims in this post? "Change the lens through which you are looking at the situation." Take an objective look at your behavior from the outside, and consider how it could be perceived by others.

For those who wish to question what cyberbullying truly is, here is the definition from Wikipedia:

Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm other people in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.

Cyberbullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mail to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender, but it may also include threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech), ganging up on victims by making them the subject of ridicule in forums, and posting false statements as fact aimed at humiliation.

Cyberbullies may disclose victims' personal data (e.g. real name, address, or workplace/schools) at websites or forums or may pose as the identity of a victim for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames or ridicules them. Some cyber-bullies may also send threatening and harassing emails and instant messages to the victims, while other post rumors or gossip and instigate others to dislike and gang up on the target.

I've been told cyber bullying does not occur between adults. That I am wrong to use the term in my work with The Mom Pledge. Wikipedia says this about the labels used to identify the behavior:

The practice of cyberbullying is not limited to children and, while the behavior is identified by the same definition in adults, the distinction in age groups is sometimes referred to as cyberstalking or cyberharassment.

I don't care what you call it. I think arguing about nomenclature is a waste of time. Anyone who feels we should debate what to call the behavior is missing the point. Focusing on the wrong things. I daresay attempting to deflect.

The behavior is wrong, plain and simple. It is indefensible. It needs to stop.

No one should expect - or accept - bullying simply because she chooses to share online. It is not OK to be attacked for your beliefs or how you choose to live your life. Even if you are sharing that information publicly.

We would never stand for this type of behavior in person. Why should we online? Speaking out against bullying  - in any form - is not whining. It's standing up for what is right. 

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