Tag Archives: bullying

Social Media Bullying – What A Few Days It’s Been

On Sunday I did something rather stupid.  I spoke publicly about my concerns that One Direction’s Harry Styles may be suffering from depression.  I did so knowing that the subject might be controversial but I also did it with the best of intentions.

At no point did I say that Harry Styles was actually mentally ill, the point was that he is in a very high risk group.  I did expect to generate discussion, what I didn’t expect was the avalanche of hatred that came my way as a result of an article that I have since deleted.

Over the past 18-months or so I have written a lot about One Direction and their fans chiefly because I believe that both the band and their fans are given a bad press by the media in general.  As a result of my writing I have supported fans, fan projects and fan charitable efforts both with publicity and with my own hard-earned cash.  My experience with the One Direction fandom has, for the most part been a really positive one.  I have established online friendships with many fans and found most to be caring, genuine mature people.

jpeg;base64cc8e98b54334e4aeThe last thing I expected was to become the victim of cyber-bullying myself.  The disturbing thing wasn’t that people lashed out, I understand that reaction, it was that I became the focus of an orchestrated campaign that took its rise on social blogging platform Tumblr.

 

I most certainly did not expect a couple of influential bloggers whom I have supported publicly in the past to fan the flames of hatred.  As a result I was being subjected to hatred from people who didn’t even trouble themselves to read the article and make their own judgement.  Most simply jumped on a band-wagon they knew nothing about and spewed forth hatred.  One even accused me of encouraging fans to self-harm!  Words that I did not even utter in the article.

It was very interesting that a lot of people contacted me privately to provide their support, most saying that they understood where I was coming from and advising me to simply block the haters and move on.  I find this difficult because after spending my entire working life in the armed services and the police fighting injustice and standing up for myself and others is second nature.  That said I am all too aware that no-one wins fights on the internet.  There are only losers.

4e4a69a9aa132a0a5710816e36e2ef0eThe last few days have been tough.  Anytime I post something online I seem to receive a barrage of hate, it doesn’t even matter what the subject is.  I can only imagine the devastating effect that this type of behaviour must have on young people who are fragile and much less able to deal with this type of behaviour than I am.

Of course I realise that the vast majority of One Direction fans are decent and honourable people who would not dream of acting in this way.  I have had lengthy discussion’s with some fans who disagreed with me over this article totally.  Those people are the ones who convinced me that I was wrong to publish this article and that’s why I deleted it.

It is a simple fact that those who shout abuse and try to bully you into doing what they demand get nowhere, this behaviour leads only to people digging in and fighting with each other.  In the end it is totally counter productive.

If I am totally honest I always knew that the One Direction fandom had a dark and sinister underbelly.  The small minority who behave in this way are over-publicised by a media who try to paint all One Direction fans as obsessive and nasty and I would hate to tarnish all the lovely genuine and caring fans with that kind of label.

As you might imagine I was feeling a little isolated earlier today when a friendly One Direction fan sent me a link to this post from a writer at the Huffington Post.  The post demonstrates that what I have experienced is nothing new.  I am not the first “friend” of the One Direction fandom to have been treated this way and I am sure I won’t be the last.

d-300x227It would be easy to lash out at the bullies because they have caused me a degree of pain.  I won’t though because I am all too well aware that Bullies, especially those who choose the internet as their field of prey, are sad and pathetic individuals who need help.  These are people with so little in their lives that their self-esteem is through the floor and as a result they see anything that challenges them to think beyond their narrow minds as a threat.

For the most part bullies are people with a sensitised amygdala who lash out at any perceived threat, real or otherwise.  As the great Billy Connelly would say “they are more to be pitied than scolded I can assure you.”

If you are a One Direction fan who has suffered cyber-bullying I encourage you to speak out about it.  One Direction NDA have a superb anti-bullying initiative in place so I would encourage you to get in touch with them if you need support.

I would also ask everyone to remember that to err is to be human.  We all make an error of judgement every now and then and the world would be a much better place if we could just remember our own failings before we leap to condemn and harass others for theirs.  We are all entitled to make mistakes, we are entitled to screw up now and then, none of us is perfect.

We all have the right to live our lives free from bullying and harassment even, or perhaps especially, when we make a mistake.

Finally to the many many people who reached out to check if I was OK or who defended me publicly I am honored and humbled by the kindness and understanding you have shown.

The experience has left me a little battered and bruised but unbowed.  It was never my intention to cause anyone distress and genuinely regret causing anyone pain.

I wish every last one of you, even the bullies, love and peace.

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Gaz Brookfield – Greatest Anti-Bullying Song Ever

I detest bullying.  It’s insidious, heartbreaking and destructive.

I honestly think my good friend Gaz Brookfield created the best anti-bullying song I have ever heard.  Check it out and show Gaz some love.The video is pretty awesome too.

Singer Jessie J reveals she was bullied after medication made her look like an alien

British singer Jessie J has told BBC Radio One that she was bullied as a teenager after medication she was taking went wrong and turned her skin green. The beautiful 26-year-old singer, who’s real name is Jessica Cornish, suffered from a heart defect and had a stroke when she was just 18. Jessie spent much of her childhood in hospital as a result of her poor health, but her problems didn’t end there. Jessie revealed that she was also bullied.

Unequal Terms – The Daily Post.

Todays Daily prompt is to join in with Blog action day by discussing what inequality means to me.  I am approaching the task by way of free write so here goes.

We face inequality, unfairness, prejudice and discrimination in every walk of life.  I hope that I am open minded and that I stand up against inequality whenever I come across it.  I suspect that my strong feelings hark back to my growing up in Northern Ireland.  Early in life I was aware of members of my family displaying an extreme and totally irrational prejudice against anyone who was a Roman Catholic.  This seemed totally bizarre to me.  I could understand people hating on those responsible for terrorist atrocities, but grouping everyone of a particular faith for hatred as a result just didn’t seem right.

I left Northern Ireland and joined the Navy at 16 and very quickly became aware of how it felt to  be on the wrong end of discrimination and prejudice for no good reason.   Just because I had a Northern Irish accent I was labelled stupid, a terrorist and became the butt of a never ending stream of Irish jokes.  I was called Paddy, Mick, Bog trotter, Boggy, just about anything except my given name.  This was not just by my fellow trainee’s but by instructors and trainers as well.  I can’t even begin to explain just how difficult it was to stand up against this.  When you stood up against this type of insidious bullying you were labelled a trouble maker and accused of failing to fit in.

When I moved to my first ship this type of behaviour was prevalent.  I remember when two black lads were attached to my ship for a period of training.  They were from a foreign Navy though I don’t remember which one.  The were immediately nicknamed ‘Daz’ and ‘Omo’, the names of two popular detergents at the time.  The implication being that they would wash ‘Whiter than White.  Even now the thought of people being treated in this way makes me cringe.

After leaving the Navy I joined another male dominated macho culture where despite being in a position of authority I continued to be the butt of Irish jokes and so on.  In this job I saw at first hand how badly women were treated in the workplace.  it was always assumed that they should be ‘looked after’ by male colleagues.  To this day I will never forget the treatment of one female colleague by other members of staff.  This lady was in her late 20’s and was jaw droopingly beautiful.  One day in the office she was leaning across a desk when a senior colleague came up behind her, grabbed her by the hips and ground his groin against her rear simulating having sex.  As you can imagine she was horrified.  She stood up to the bully and made a complaint against him.  As a result she and her partner were totally ostracised and subject to the most horrific abuse by other colleagues.  despite their being numerous witnesses to the actions of the male colleague the complaint was not upheld and the lady eventually had to leave the job because she was so badly treated.

These are just a few examples of how I have witnessed prejudice in action over the years.  I have seen people passed over for promotion and be subject of discrimination and bullying as a result of the colour of their skin, their gender, their sexuality, their ethnic origin, their appearance and just about anything else you could imagine.

I spent much of my working life in training roles and spent a lot of time helping colleagues to identify inequality, to stand up against it and to support others who were subject to it.  I genuinely believe that I have been able to use my own experiences to raise awareness of inequality issues and as a result have done as much as possible to combat the blight on society.

One issue I often talked about openly was my own mental illness.  I am a big guy, 6’2″ tall, even after 37 years of living in England I have a broad Northern Irish accent and I am both forthright and confident.  people see me as very strong minded and I guess a little brash.  I was always amused to see students reactions when I told them I suffered from mental illness.  They seemed unable to grasp the fact that someone strange and confident could suffer so badly from depressive illness.  Unfortunately for me my organisation was not great at dealing with mental illness and on many occasions they were unable to support me effectively.  This eventually lead to my being retired early as a result of my illness.

Talking about inequality, discrimination and prejudice openly is the only way to widen understanding of it and (in my vision of Utopia) to eradicate it.  I hope that through the vast majority of my life I have done this and I hope others will to.  It is about understanding the effect your actions have on others.  It is not always possible to know that you have offended other peoples sensitivities.  Only by raising issues and talking about them in a calm, rational, non-judgemental and supportive way can we educate others and make life in general better for everyone we come into contact with.

So thats my story.  Have you faced similar issues?  How did you deal with them?  Did you feel you were adequately supported?  please let me know, I would really like to hear your story.