When I first began blogging I immediately came across not one, but two grown-up bullies. One did not so much affect me personally. The other bully initially tried to befriend me. When I held back, suspicious of ulterior motives, I became this person's target. This person talked about me viciously behind my back to other bloggers and to potential clients. While I didn't want to let it bother me, it really did. Friends said not to waste my energy on it, but we all know it is so much easier said than done. As I was finally able to let myself ignore it and move on - about that same time, those who had bought into the hype began to see true colors shining through.
Recently Jennifer Aniston showed her support of actress Olivia Wilde, who has received her share of criticism in the press of late. During a recent interview for Glamour magazine's September issue, Aniston said, "We're living in a time where, whether it's the Internet or tabloids, being sh*tty has become a sport. We're just grown-up bullies. We literally could not need to have our hearts more open than in these times."
She makes such a valid point about people just wanting to rip each other down. Adult bullying happens among grown adults every single day, on the blogosphere, in the workplace, in social circles, and elsewhere. In fact, it is estimated that more than one in three adults have been bullied in the workplace.
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As I mentioned, there were two people I encountered whom I would certainly call out as bullies. Though I suspect that most bullies do not realize precisely what they are doing, that they are, in fact, bullying other people. They do not see their manipulation techniques or their openly snide commentary as bullying. They do not think that ripping someone apart, judging them publicly, or spreading rumors about them is bullying. Instead they call it something else entirely, and often they even believe it.
We have to stop acting like grownup bullies, both online and off. Having a right to voice an opinion does not mean that any of us should voice ours in a way that belittles someone else. It does not help at all that we live in a time of instantaneous dissemination of gossip, and people who hide their loud opinions behind computer screens. Yet there is a vast difference between voicing a dissenting point of view and publicly ripping someone else apart. We seem to have lost that notion somewhere along the line.
Perhaps instead of wasting time ripping one another apart, we can focus on lifting each other up. There is enough room for everyone to have success. Differing opinions are not just allowed, they should be welcome in the name of conversation and friendly debate. Let's consider respecting one another, even when we disagree. I guess, ultimately, it is up to us to not give the bullies the attention they crave, or at the very least, give their statements due diligence before drawing any conclusions.
Here is another reason why I love what Aniston said in that moment, and why this issue gets to me. How can we be trying to raise a generation of children who don't bully others and who speak out against bullying, when we (generally speaking) are being so hypocritical?
Haven't we heard this message enough times to start acting on it already?
-By Jessica Cohen
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