Monday, January 2, 2017

Victim Shaming

In football, they call it piling on: when the play is dead and tacklers continue to gang up on the runner.

It’s the same thing in cyberbullying. When a disparaging post is created to destroy a person, there are people who take the bully’s side. It is one thing when strangers believe it, but when it’s your family and people who you thought were your friends, the pain runs deep.

Former NHL hockey player, Theoren Fleury, has influenced me to use the word “survivor” rather than “victim.” Victim can be a perpetual state, whereas a survivor strives to rise from the abyss. You might remember Fleury from his battles with the court and personal demons as a result of his experience with infamous hockey coach and sexual predator Graham James. He has survived, and thrived, but that was not always the case. There are times one stays stuck in victim mode until they can find that light at the end of the tunnel.

Cyberbullying is a rape of your digital footprint. It never goes away and is just as psychologically damaging. Every time you turn on your computer, there it is, until the end of time.

So when a cyber smear links you to a heinous act, deems you untrustworthy, and great effort is made to make sure that link or web page is SEO’d to stay front and center, it is never an accurate description of your problems.

Motivational speaker Mary Miller says, “Some people who I thought were friends, stopped communicating because of what was written about me on the Internet.”

So if you have been cyber smeared and have painfully learned that friends you thought were friends are no longer friends, you are not alone. You are not alone if it is your family who believes it.

All you can do is try your best to survive. Then after taking some effort to establish your digital direction, build your own digital footprint, despite the nastiness online, eventually you will move from victim mode to survival, and ultimately thrive. Let the bullies and the fair weather friends eat your digital dust.