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The art of being kind

I hardly ever watch TV, and since arriving in Australia I haven’t watched any TV other than the period before work when I am at work and trying to chill out. Today I was watching the news and the terrible story of a teenager that killed herself as a result of bullying last week.

Her name was Amy Everett and she was only 14. I don’t know how she took her own life but that doesn’t really matter. The point is that she did, and it was because people pushed her into doing it. Cowardly people going out of their way to make sure someone else suffers for no reason other than some kind of deranged self-fulfilment. I instantly fill with rage when I read this kind of thing, because I too suffered at the hands of bullying as a child. I can only try to imagine how bad the bullying has to be to end it all in this way. I never reached a point that I ever considered suicide and thankfully I was able to escape it with the help of family and friends. Some people don’t have that escape. The only escape is to take that giant leap from it all, not too different from those jumping from the towers in NYC back in 2001, except these flames are in the form of hatred burning in the minds of evil individuals. An entirely avoidable death if people could learn that being mean is an option and the option of kindness is much easier and much more respectable.

Could you imagine a world in which people decided against being mean? Instead of using their precious time to cause suffering, decided to write a song or learn an instrument? Take a walk on the beach or write a blog post? It seems like, taking this into account, people really feel the need to bring others down. It takes conscious effort to set the laptop up, switch it on, type in the password, log onto the internet and find someone to insult. It isn’t just a passing comment in the street. Some people clearly possess a great urge to cause distress and whether or not this is made easier by online anonymity is irrelevant. If anything the ease in which people can lead victims to suicide and log out without a trace makes it a much bigger concern.

I can only assume those doing the bullying are going through some kind of trauma themselves. Whether it is a repercussion of mental illness or being a victim of bullying themselves, there will be a reason. There has to be a reason. Unbelievably, as I get older I still see typical characteristics of a bully in adults. Adults! Whether it is my place of work or on the street, bullies are everywhere. Some of them simply don’t grow out of it and keep the same psychopathic behaviours on display. I am sure many of you still suffer these individuals. The hatred I feel building up as I hear such a story dies down as I try to understand the nature of a bully. Some people are no doubt born with this unfortunate urge. Others give it out as a mental release for their own suffering. It could be argued that a bully needs help as much as the victim.

As I type these words, I hear people claiming this suicide was an overreaction. ‘It is only online trash talk, don’t take it so seriously’…. ‘Why take your own life because of random people on the internet? Just block them and move on’. I admit, I find online bullying something foreign to me. But then again as a guy in his late twenties, I did not grow up with social media being a huge aspect of my life. Social media is a huge part of life now, this is something we have to accept. A quick Google tells me that teens spend more than one third of their day on social media, up to nine hours. That is a huge chunk of the day, and a huge part of life. If hours upon hours of the day are spent receiving insults and threats, that cannot be good for mental health.

This story got to me. It got to me as the nephew of an uncle and auntie that I lost to suicide and someone that knows mental illness very well. The only comfort I get from the suicides in my family is that they weren’t brought on by people. The illnesses my uncle and auntie endured weren’t consciously going out of their way to cause misery. Instead they are conditions that are still we are still trying to learn about and find cures for.

The art of being kind is one that so many people are unskilled in, I say ‘art’ as it seems like something that many people need to be taught. The nature of bullying is tragic as it involves people trying hard to bring people down when there is the option to be kind. A cure for this cannot come soon enough.

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41 replies »

    • Thanks for reading. Being anonymous is clearly a benefit for these people. Is it something they want to do in real life but are too scared, or are they tired of having to be nice in real life so look for an escape online? Who knows, but online bullies are a problem for sure.

      Like

  1. This is so sad – young kids and teenagers can’t filter those comments the way adults do and they must feel like all there is in the world. And yes, unfortunately bullies exist in the adult world, some of them getting promoted at work for being go-getters, friends with the boss, or whatever reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, yeah it must be hard as a kid, particularly if this kid doesn’t have many friends or has problems at home too (not that I am going off this specific case as I don’t know the details).
      And I have seen these employees! The worst part is when these employees feel they are safe to be condescending or patronising because of their status (which is often not a very special status at all). It can’t be healthy for anyone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, unfortunately bullying has escalated greatly. I have never run across so many unpleasant, mean, rude, & ugly people as I have online.

    It also has a lot to do with the ”me” thing, & not liking something seems to give them the right to do & say whatever they please, to anyone they please. They have no idea of being hurtful, or polite. They don’t even seem to have the option of staying out of or ignoring what, or whom they don’t like.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very true, Pat. Being anonymous certainly makes the problem worse, knowing they can get away with it. I wonder what these people are like in real life… are they friendly people, or do they show similar characteristics in real life social situations? It would be fascinating to find out.

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  3. Bullying is such a sad reality. I hope that more and more people begin to focus on being kind so that there are less and less of those being bullied choosing to take their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting and I agree with what you said. I would love to see changes that would prevent these occurrences however I don’t know what is already in place. More bans on anonymous trolls… more focus on telling kids about online bullying and the ways to report and evade it… I am not sure. But most of all like you said, just choosing to be kind!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I have quite a few from an exhibition on the beaches of Bondi and Coogee, the messages on this specific sign kept changing so I stood there and took shots of them all. Every now and then I will use them for posts I see fit and I thought the messages fit this post well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good morning dear Sam,

    I am glad to know you, it is reality of life many spends hours on net, but never spend time
    with real friends and family members,
    communication grab is become bigger between family members .

    Some people are already on silent mode .

    You are very right go out spend time with people around you.

    Thank you so much for it

    Best Regards
    SK

    Liked by 1 person

  5. well done. Well written post on a complex subject. I was bullied as a child, it took a lot out of me. I hated violence then and I did not fight back. Once I hit 6 foot and 250 lbs I didn’t have to. I chose kindness early on and it is the best way to fight bullies, show their targets the other way to be.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, I appreciate the kind feedback. I am sorry to read you were bullied, isn’t it funny how bullies tend to stop when they realise you are now bigger than them? Strange!
      Keep being a good person and I hope you are having a great weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I cannot even imagine what kids go through these days. Bullying in person, on their phone, through apps and online is awful enough. And if you add anxiety or depression to the mix …

    There have been a few high profile cases in Australia in the last few years, with both children and adults on the receiving end of bullying and trolling. I saw something on Twitter recently which I thought was a nice response from a celebrity being trolled https://twitter.com/jack/status/951184226535133184

    Liked by 2 people

    • This response is fantastic. I am also shocked it worked so effectively! Maybe all internet trolls are that easy to talk to with a little compassion. Thanks for sharing this, it was a fascinating read!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I read about Amy on Sky News. So terrible. The same with anyone who contemplates suicide (or does more than complete it); the feeling of there being nowhere to turn or that no one will understand how you feel.

    On the flip side bullies are generally bullied themselves, which doesn’t excuse their devastating behaviour, but can explain it. A very sad situation.

    What a beautiful post though. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It does help me to know that bullies are probably going through something themselves, as it makes them more human and provides some answers. Like you said the recent news was terrible, I am sure it will provide more awareness and that is all we can hope for.
      I am pleased you enjoyed the read, so thank you very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a beautiful post Sam if only there were more people like you and less bullies then the internet would be a safe place for teens. It’s such a harsh world and like you online bullying seems so scary because I never contended with such a thing myself as a child. As a woman contemplating bringing a human into the world , it’s deeply scary and I have a fantasy of home schooling thus hypothetical child in a magical place where there is no internet…If only that were possible!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I’m glad you could relate. I think it is important for kids to have the benefits of the Internet, but it’s such a shame this is almost impossible without the ugly sides of the web being present. It certainly is a dilemma when considering bringing up kids!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As a victim of bullying myself, there were many times I wanted to just disappear. I was not brave enough to inflict pain on myself or end my life but I prayed for just anything to happen so I will be gone. I was able to get pass all of this, true. But as an adult, I could see some of the lasting effects of my experiences as a kid. Bullying should never be a phase anyone has to go through.

    As a kid, I was always taught by teachers to be kind enough to understand my bullies instead of holding grudges. But I couldn’t understand how I can go through something difficult in my own life and not be mean to others while they can use family problems as an excuse to bully and expect to be allowed to get away with it.

    But you’re right. Kindness is something that people need to learn and understand better. I hope to see the day when people are more kind and compassionate towards others.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s certainly tough. I’m sorry that you had to go through that, and I also feel some lasting effects of such bullying. The real frustrating aspect is that we are told to be kind but this doesn’t make people kind to us, and it really is a killer knowing that bullies sometimes get away with their behaviour. I don’t think we should be easy on bullies, but I feel that if we know the science behind them, it would help a great deal.
      Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great post. It is amazing to me that kindness is becoming a bit of a rarity and that people (especially those in the big cities) question it. “Why are you being so nice to me? What do you want?” There is an immediate lack of trust between people and I do not know why, but they are certainly quick to be defensive. I guess perhaps, some victims of bullying have been used against their initial kindness so being defensive is the easier option. It is hard to say entirely, but it is definitely a problem more than ever especially with cyber bullying. I think one way to deal with all this is the have the conversations. Limit the social media. Continue to teach important values to our future kids whether it be our own children or children of close ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by, it is a sad post to type however it is something that needs to be talked about. I am pleased you stopped by to read, and I hope you are having a great weekend. I very much agree with your thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

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