Okay let’s go back to basics, our first days of primary school we were told the school rules and the two I will probably always remember were, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say then say nothing at all” and perhaps the latter should be a life rule, or at the very least an internet rule. I’m going to ignore “Treat others the way you wish to be treated” because I don’t think many of us are very kind to ourselves these days and I don’t think people who send hate over the internet have much self-respect or self-esteem and they probably don’t value themselves very highly.
I am not someone who has received a lot of hate, in fact it is pretty rare but that’s why I feel it is even more important to talk about it. I am not one of those extreme stories, I’m probably one of the ‘lucky’ ones because I can count the hate I’ve received this year on one hand, however this does not mean it didn’t hurt me. Hate is dangerous, any hate is dangerous. If you send someone one hateful comment online, that one comment has the power to cause harm to that person and it’s like throwing a grenade over a fence, you can’t see the damage, you don’t even know if it’s hit them but it has the potential to be deadly.
You do not know that person’s personality, life nor situation. The person you send hate to could already be having a really bad day, your one comment could be the comment that pushes them over the edge.
Online bullying and hate is very different to bullying and hateful comments in the actual world. You can often see from body language or facial expression that the other person isn’t going to be kind and whilst this is equally as horrible, at least you can kind of prepare yourself rather than clicking on an email and BOOM it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing, this hateful comment is there and you can read over and over again, it isn’t just said once. You are under attack and your body reacts, your heart races and your eyes sting but you don’t know who or where the attacker is.
One of the first times I received hate, I was sat in a hospital waiting room waiting for a very difficult, upsetting and anxiety provoking appointment. I was on my own and already in a very vulnerable place. I was looking around the room finding objects beginning with each letter of the alphabet in a desperate bid to stop myself crying but I internalised the words and believed them and completely hated myself and it contributed towards me hurting myself that night.
A more recent example was when I was sent hate whilst I was an inpatient on a psychiatric ward. Things were difficult enough, I already had my own nasty voice shouting at me, I didn’t need another one.
The most memorable was when I received an anonymous message telling me I was fat but with many more words and I was sitting down for dinner at someone’s house and I was already full of anxiety but also a determination to not let my illness win. I read that message as the starter was served and I barely ate any of the meal and I hurt myself as I lay in my dark bedroom that night.
Hate has affected me and I am very fortunate that I don’t receive a lot, I would not consider myself to be cyber bullied at all. This is why my message is so important. It just takes one hateful comment. Sending me hate when I am suicidal is as dangerous as handing me gun.
I see hate everyday on Instagram, Twitter, Ask.fm and Facebook and it’s scary how normal it is becoming. I shouldn’t be scared every single time I get a notification that it is going to be hate, our society should not be turning into this. The internet is 24/7, it doesn’t close and our phones are with us constantly. Think about that for a second, it’s exhausting enough to keep up with replies, what each other are doing, trying to fit in and all the rest of it without receiving hate any time of the day or night.
Screens create a distance but that doesn’t mean that the consequences of your hateful messages aren’t happening. You are sending hate to a human being with feelings, memories, insecurities, problems and vulnerabilities.
Don’t be the reason someone cries tonight, don’t be a scar on someone’s arm and definitely do not be a tear in a mother’s eye as she buries her child. Stop sending hate!