I was a victim of what I believe was adult cyber-bullying on both my personal and professional pages.
I recently posted something on to my personal Facebook page that I was rather proud of... and let's face it proud moments are for sharing with friends and family. The post clearly said I am proud to be self-employed and that ending the month with some great feedback made self-employment much nicer.
But the post - on my personal page, remember, not my business one - was subject to a lengthy tirade because I did not name the client behind the lovely testimonial. Clearly, the poster was not happy with the reason I gave for not mentioning my client by name and thought that, as I had posted it on my personal page, it was up for public debate.
I thought to myself – would a friend actually want to do this? No, none of my friends would single me out for ridicule, that I can be sure of.
There comes a time when you have to take a step back and think: why am I defending myself and my business to someone who
a] is not a friend and has no right to be on my friends list, and
b] apparently has nothing better to do than intimidate others
So, I exercised my right to remove them from my 'friends' list on my personal page.
Shortly after, I posted a blog link to my business page. Guess what? More abuse. You see, I had left a letter out of a visual that accompanied my post – I distinctly remember it being pointed out the first time it happened... we all experience those moments of – ‘oh no not you again, have you not got anything better to do?’.
Because I had reposted it in a different way, the spelling police decided now was a good time to repeat their first comment. This was not the first or second time it had happened, but it darn well sure was going to be the last.
So I exercised my right to block them from my business page. Plus, I also exercised my right to report them to Facebook as they had copied and pasted my content from my page to their personal page, without any thought about damaging my business or reputation.
Bullying can come across in different ways. Online, it is not always easy to detect a person's real meaning or intention and sometimes you will need to assess whether or not you are reading too much into something.
In this instance I had seen the style of wording and nuance intended across many posts, so I felt within my rights to assume that this was some kind of cyber-bullying - especially as my content was copied and pasted into their personal space for their own friends to dissect. Did they once stop to think about me? No. Bullies don't, do they?
There's a certain kind of bully tactic... it is laced with a rich language and style of questioning that on the face of it, you might think there's nothing wrong with. But when it carries on repeatedly, you think ‘hold on a minute... something does not add up’.
So, to commenters, I say this: think before you comment.
You see, your words might be intellectual but your intention is still at the heart and soul of what you are doing. When you deem yourself as being professional and state that you are pointing out the obvious, think very carefully – is what you say relevant, important and will it have some bearing for the person involved?
Is it kind, meaningful or helpful - or are you just spouting off because you can? Because a response too far that has no real relevance can be seen as the work of a cyber bully. And there is nothing worse than that on social media.
If the reality is you don't care, that the thought of your victim being torn to shreds as you head off to find someone else to taunt and belittle somehow pleases you or makes you feel important, then the sad truth is you have a problem.
To all social media users, if you are in any doubt at any time about a poster’s intentions, just delete their comments straight away and, if necessary, block them. Go with your gut. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt - sadly, there are times when the wolf dressed as the lamb can be quite obvious but not in others.
True friends don't take your content and share it elsewhere to ridicule you. They message you privately. True friends enjoy your little moments of pride on Facebook and either like or comment. They don't go off on a tangent with a random question... or maybe they do, but you know your friends. Your personal space on Facebook can be quite often a mix of true friends and acquaintances. True friends earn their place in your friends list.
I'm of the opinion that if you can't mix in my social network with respect and good intentions, then don't ever darken any of my social network doors again!