Maturity Does NOT Always Come With Age

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The cyber bully. They are everywhere now. At first I thought maybe it was only happening to teenagers, but I am very surprised to see it happening in the military community as well. And even worse… we are doing it to each other!

I am not sure if social media is good or bad for the military community. I suppose every change has its ups and downs. However, I do wonder if spouses always had this hatred for each other and only recently began voicing it through social media. I guess the idea of being able to say what you want behind a computer screen is helpful for some. But do any of them really say some of the same things when in a face to face situation? For example, if you were attending an FRG (Family Readiness Group) meeting and a new spouse was asking questions that to you seem a little ridiculous and should be common knowledge, would you honestly stand up and call that woman stupid or petty? Honestly. So why is it okay to do it on the internet? When I was in Hawaii we didn’t have a facebook page for spouses, or at least I didn’t know of one. And life was pretty normal. Base was a fun and safe place to be. Making friends was difficult but doable. And the FRG was there to help with any questions or concerns. If someone had an issue with you they would talk to you in person, otherwise you would never know about it.

Here in the D.C. area I have been introduced to a facebook page for spouses and at first I thought it was an amazing idea. It was created to be a place for new arrivals to gather information and meet new people… something I wasn’t offered in Hawaii. So I eagerly joined up and have gotten some very good information from most of the spouses who are also members. Every once in a while I would see some controversial post that would start an argument. It was few and far between though. Then after a few months it got really bad. There were women who actually would go on to the page and name a certain spouse and began dragging her name through the mud and saying what a horrible person she was and for all of us to stay away from her. How someone could do something like that and then have the nerve to say they are better than whatever the spouse did to them is beyond me. It didn’t stop there. It got worse and worse… like a flood gate was opened for women to freely put each other down. The admins of the page would try to step in, but would often end up in the middle of the stone throwing. Soon a page was created for women to join that had no rules and you were allowed to say what you want about whoever you wanted. I didn’t join that page but from what I gather they don’t often speak kindly of others. People who are not members will hear that they are the topic of discussion on the page and would have to find out that a large number of spouses who live on the same base were stealing her pictures and making fun of her publicly. When asked to stop by the bullied they would defend their actions and insist they are being a “baby” who just needs to sit back and enjoy the ride.

I know this type of thing is probably common in social media. But I always assumed it was present mostly with young teenagers who were immature and did not realize the full affect their words had on others. Because really, who in their right mind would assume that GROWN ADULTS would engage in this type of behavior?! The idea of grown women taking advantage of others through social media is pathetic. As spouses of our country’s military, (who are some of the most respected people in the world), we should show each other more respect as well. I think what bothers me the most about internet bullying is often times the one getting bullied has never even met their tormenters. These people go online and pick someone at random and begin teasing, cussing and threatening them. It also amazes me how they really feel justified in their actions.

So I ask those of you who tease, do really understand how much your words can affect someone’s life? Even if they don’t know you? This person you are teasing could have a lot of things going on that you know nothing about yet you feel entitled to judge and ridicule. If someone were to hurt themselves over a comment you made superficially how would that make you feel? Would your statement have been worth the pain of someone else and their families? When you finally grow out of this “phase” will you regret some of the things you said and did? And I guess my last question would be, “How are you any better than this person if you hide behind a key board criticizing others?”

I don’t ask these questions to start a fight with anyone. I am honestly curious as to what the point is. Is this really the only form of entertainment you can find? If you have a problem with someone I don’t see why you can’t approach them privately to solve your issues. The fact that women who live on the same base as me seem to be perfectly okay engaging in this behavior makes me wary of meeting new friends. Because they attack online, it is hard to pick them out in real life.

As adults we do need to accept that not everyone will share our opinions and we should learn to be okay with that. Also, no one can hurt or bother you if you do not let them. I was bullied growing up so I learned this lesson the hard way. I have to say that it is liberating knowing that I have full control of how I feel. And to those who may be experiencing bullying, I am not saying words don’t hurt because we all know they do. However, in order to maintain our sanity we must remember: we cannot control the actions of others but we have FULL control of how we react to them and how much power we allow them to have in our lives.

I wrote this article in hopes that it would give perspective to those who bully. I don’t think they are all just plain bad people. But I do think they may be unaware of just how much their words can affect someone. What seems like harmless entertainment to you, may be heartbreaking for some else. A good rule of thumb is: If you would not say something to someone in person it probably is not a good idea to say it online.

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