Today I want to talk about a topic that I'm sure we've all had experience with in one way or another: bullying. Well, more specifically, online bullying. Having been blogging here at 204 Park for nearly 5 years and having blogged before starting 204 Park I'm no stranger to the occasional online bully and mean comment.
Truthfully, I consider myself quite fortunate when it comes to the world of online bullying. I try to keep this blog pretty positive and as it's my 'happy corner of the internet' where I get to share what I love for the most part, I've been able to brush off the occasional negative comment or online bully that's come my way. I've never shared when I have received hurtful comments or bullying because I do try to keep this space happy and positive but I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there have been a few comments that have really stung.
As an 'elder millennial' (love this term, thanks Iliza Shlesinger) my experience with the online world began when I was 12 years old when I'd be allowed time after school and on the weekend to go on msn messenger chat. Then come Jr High the online platform that was all the rage was nexopia (am I dating myself here? haha). Can you believe I didn't own my first cell phone until I was 16?! ha! But it wasn't until 2006 when I was 17 that I started my Facebook page when social media really exploded as a pretty significant part of my life. Through my earlier experiences with social media I was fortunate to not be on the receiving end of online bullying and taunting too often but I had friends who were and it was devastating. Bullying in any form can have long term effects that carry into adulthood.
Last week you may have seen on my Instagram Stories that James and I were lucky enough to go to an Eskimos game with TELUS. It was mine and James' first Edmonton Eskimos game (I know, I know - I don't know how I've lived here my whole life and never been before! haha) and James and I had a great time at the game. We held the flag on the field during the national anthem, we got the VIP experience thanks to TELUS but also we were there to support TELUS' #EndBullying game night.
Even typing this makes me feel like I'm sounding like an 'old lady' but things these days are very different in the online world than they were when I was in school. Everyone is on social media and has cellphones and the whole world wide web at out fingertips at a much younger age. When I think back I can admit that while I was never a bully myself, I definitely didn't stand up to bullying as much as I should have. With age and wisdom I'd act much differently now than I did then but alas, going back is not a choice (nor would I want it to be!! bah!) however I often think of how different things are from when I was in school.
This is part of the reason why TELUS has taken such a strong stand to help do their part to #EndBullying. It was great to be at the Eskimos game and see the #EndBullying messaging everywhere! As I'm sure anyone who's played sports is aware, when you have a team behind you and supporting you, it can be a bit easier if you're facing a difficult time. Plus, let's be honest, good sportsmanship is just as important online as it is on the field - so I love that the Edmonton Eskimos are helping to do their part to #EndBullying as well!
The thing is - what is said and posted on the internet is in many ways irreversible. I think it's going to be very interesting to watch how each generation navigates the more prominent influence of the online world in our lives and how we are going to start to realize that with all of this power at our fingertips, we ALL have a responsibility.
In addition to raising awareness and encouraging kindness through the online pledge, TELUS is also supporting youth with education and initiatives to make a safer, friendlier world online. Plus, they have some great tips and resources HERE that I highly suggest checking out - there are some good reminders in there for all of us.
So, what can you do?
Join me in signing the TELUS pledge to stand up against online bullying. This means being kinder in our interactions, stepping in and doing what we can to (safely) end bullying and helping others with kinder and safer online practices. There isn’t a single person who can end cyberbullying. But millions can. By signing this pledge, you'll stand with countless Canadians to help keep your digital neighbourhood safe. For every pledge taken, TELUS will donate $1 to support #EndBullying programs across Canada. It takes less than two minutes and is so simple, will you guys join me?