This morning, prior to even puling myself out of bed, as I perused social media, I noticed this month – October, is identified as National Bullying Prevention Month. Therefore, I found it fitting to reflect on an incident that happened in my own life merely two weeks or so ago.
Often times when scanning through social media, I’ll notice something that sparks my interest, but will scroll on by, not feeling any particular pull or drive to comment or voice my thoughts in any way. Though, about two weeks ago, while perusing one site, a post from a prominent daily news magazine program caught my eye, as it used a mental/physical illness to describe something I felt was of lesser caliber and a means of disrespect to those actually suffering from the serious and potentially deadly disease. Though, despite how bothered and impacted I felt by this, I continued to scroll, but found myself unable to continue readying myself for the day, without responding.
Responding that day, for me, was out of character. As someone who identifies as opinionated, I’ll often keep my opinions to myself, or will write them privately in a journal, especially when it comes to controversial topics. Though, reading this particular headline prominently displayed on social media led to unrest and my bold decision to publicly respond.
Knowing I would likely receive backlash for my words, I bravely tapped out my sentiments, focusing solely on those personally impacted by the disease they chose to use to describe a particular incidence, which lacked connection. To me, there were many, many other words or descriptors they could have used to detail what phenomenon they were describing in the article. It felt like I had a responsibility to stand up for those being marginalized or whose diseases were being made light of.
Truth be told, that day I DID in fact receive backlash and one comment in particular led me to compose my thoughts today, reflecting back on this incident. Often times, when people think of bullying, children may come to mind, as it often takes place during childhood and adolescence, though it CAN and DOES take place at other points in life – adulthood and even in senior years. A comment made to me stood out that day, a woman claiming I was “blatantly ignoring” the comments said to me and that it was “making me look stupid.” I’d be dishonest if I said this comment didn’t wound me in some way, but several moments after digesting it, I started to think of her words in a different way, seeing it as a form of bullying. Nothing that I, myself said in my comment was judgmental or disparaging towards anything or anyone, but rather me, wishing to stand up for those marginalized, stating I believed other language could have been employed. The comment said by this particular woman to me, stated I was being rude, but in return, she was also rude AND chose to call me a name.
Publicly voicing my thoughts that day was a move typically out of character for me, forcing me to summon much courage and bravery. While composing my thoughts, all I could think of was standing up for others; those who might not have seen the title of this article and its contents and those who chose to not respond.
As one of my favorite quotes stands, “Always stand up for what you believe in… even if it means standing alone.”