I wanted to write this to elaborate on my story that went viral. Especially if you or someone you know is being bullied, please read this.
To start out, I want to tell those who have messaged me and told me they are going to use my method of “killing the haters with kindness” after watching my ATTN: video or reading about my story, that you do not have to follow through with this method if the situation becomes unsafe – emotionally, mentally or physically. I urge you to report bullying if it happens at school. While I find power in being kind to those who bully, hate or shame, not every situation is the same and you absolutely need to protect yourself and your peace if the bullying does not cease.
Sadly, not every bully will step back and realize what they’re doing is wrong. And that is ok because it is not your job to fix or change their ways. It is your job, first and foremost, to protect yourself.
I had some success with complimenting people who sent me hate regarding my appearance on social media. I believe some factors that played into my success with it include my age (I’m 22, I’m an adult) and the fact that these interactions were solely online.
While bullying of any capacity should not be tolerated and is not ok, I found that for myself, being harassed online was less severe for me than in person because I had more control. I had the option to ignore, block and report, whereas in person, you can’t always escape that situation.
Like I said in the video, if you are a child being bullied online, keep the evidence and report it to an adult you trust at school. If you are a child being bullied in person, report it to an adult you trust at school. If the school is not helpful (which is possible because not every person in authority is always good or handles bullying correctly/takes it seriously), you need to talk to your parents or guardians, you need to keep advocating for yourself to anyone who can help you because bullying is serious and you deserve to feel safe.
If you are an adult being bullied or harassed, I urge you to ignore people online who continually harass you.
A couple months ago I would have told you to block people who continually harass you online, but I had a run-in with a ruthless online bully that proved that method a bit faulty.
Someone messaged me with hate early October. I interacted with them for a moment with kindness, and they became more angry and really started going off on me. I blocked the account immediately. And then, they made a new account, messaged me again, and said, “You can’t block me bitch. I’ll keep making accounts until you delete yours, manipulative skank”.
I talked to my therapist about that interaction. I felt ashamed bringing up that interaction with her because their initial hateful messages affected me a bit and I was a bit shaken up and sad. But I’m glad I talked to her about it because she opened my eyes up to something.
By blocking this person, I was giving them what they wanted. I was shaping their reactions, and in-turn, feeding into the problem.
So now, while I do block some accounts every now and then who say pretty vile things to me, I try to just ignore many hateful messages and let them be. Because blocking them, though a good reaction in some cases, encouraged that person’s negative behavior.
To encourage no further behavior in this instance (because nothing positive was going to come from this person), ignoring the message and not responding in any way from there on out, was most effective.
So I urge you to be wise and careful when dealing with bullies online. I have also encountered actual trolls who say things they don’t even mean, because they desperately want a reaction. Just last week a troll told me I never struggled with bulimia, among some other outlandish things. I believe it was more-so a comment to shake me than a hate comment. I don’t believe that all people bully because they are hateful. There are some people who bully because it amuses and entertains them. That is why I say to weigh your options when it comes to bullies. There will be bullies who respond to your love and kindness with understanding. And there will be bullies who won’t care what you have to say.
My golden advice though, that applies to any route you take when addressing bullies: don’t instigate. Don’t mock. Don’t bully back. Because 1) that won’t help the situation and 2) that won’t help the world.
How we react to our bullies is vital, which is why I stand by this method of fighting anger and hurt with love (for myself and for those who are in a good place to do this and are ready for any type of response back). You may think your reaction is small scale. I certainly thought my interactions with these online bullies was small scale, but my story has now reached millions. That’s incredible. And I’m so proud of my decision to switch it up and send love to those who are hurting so badly they lash out.
Your words, your reactions, your decisions – they have impacts. Not to mention, kindness spreads like wildfire. Paying-it-forward works. Random acts of kindness work. Being the light in this dark world works. All of our words and actions have consequences. So I hope you choose to create something good and positive with what you’ve got. This world needs more love and you have the opportunity to be it.
Hurt people hurt people. So let’s break the cycle. Let’s be the healing that this world needs.