Wednesday, February 05, 2014

One lingering issue from the Year of Reflection

You may or may not have heard this news as it is now a national story, but a local 11 year old attempted suicide due to being bullied. This is hard to hear but he tried to hang himself. His parents caught him in time, but he's still unconscious in the hospital. Most of the bullying stemmed over his love of My Little Pony. Age 11.

One lingering issue from my Year of Reflection is how much I hate where social media has headed. This is a truly tragic story and I can't even read online comments because of all the hateful things people have posted. About someone's baby trying to kill themselves. People use Facebook as their own personal complaining platform. People rage on twitter.

I see this myself. There are some people who ONLY comment here to point out when they disagree with me, or when I've stated something incorrect. These same kinds of people do this on my Facebook and Twitter as well. If you want to say something negative here, why don't you please try to post something positive first? Or email me. Or talk to me. I'm not some huge blogger with tons of hits.... I know most of you.

I'm trying to be the change I want to see in social media. Instead of opting out, I'm trying to make the internet a place I want to be. That's why I posted daily Christmas card out takes. That's why I'm trying to take the time to post positive comments on Facebook statuses and interact positively with people on Twitter. This is the world my kids will grow up in, and I hope to teach them these lessons also.

Back to the original story.

At our house, this suicide attempt prompted yet another round of discussions about bullying, and hoping hoping hoping the boys will be able to talk to us. We already know, AT AGE 7, that Nate gets made fun of for being small/short. It's not one kid, MULTIPLE KIDS say things about him being short.

I can talk to him until I am blue in the face about  how everyone is different, being small is not a big deal, and he can always talk to us..... but it doesn't change how hard it is for him to hear these things.  It doesn't change his emotions. We can be the parents who tell our kids EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, but we can't do it alone. We need all parents in on this one. We need the entire village to help this issue.

To stick with my goal of being positive and leading the charge, here is what I plan to do (and/or continue to do) and hope all parents will join me:
  • Spend quality time with your kids. Put down the phone. Talk to your kids. Listen to what they say, even when they say it over and over and over.
  • Think before you post and speak. Everywhere. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind?
  • Unfriend people who continue to make your blood boil, even if you're friends "in real life." Life is too short to spend it listening to negativity.
  • Model behavior you want to see in your children. They learn more from your actions than your words.


Amanda said...

your post makes me so sad, only because my son is headed to kindergarden in the fall and I'm scared to death for him and what end of the spectrum he will be. He has attended a very small in home daycare with the same 4-5 kids for the last 4.5 years. I suppose its my plight as a mother but how do we navigate the new world of social media, everyone wanting our kids to grow up too fast and on and on. Thank you for talking about it.

ElizabethEK said...

Amen Laura. Great post about a tough topic. I am IN.

Pam said...

I'm in. Sorry to hear about the negative comments. I read your posts but not the comments so I hadn't realized. And I rarely comment because I read on my iPhone at work and, for whatever reason, its nearly impossible to comment since I often don't remember my WP password. I love your blog--it makes me think about things from another perspective, laugh at some of the things that you share, and generally smile and feel good about "connecting" with someone, even if I don't know you IRL and you don't know much about me because I never comment. Plus any post about suicide really catches my attention since my amazing brother took his own life 1.5 years ago. Today's post also strikes home because I never know how someone is going to treat my sweet, sensitive almost 6 year old son and his headstrong and kind twin sister (who wears a hearing aid in one ear).

A. said...

I agree with every point - I love what you've written, even though I hate that it's something that has to be said. I'm terrified of what's to come for my kids, and I hope I can handle it with grace and foresight.

I'm sorry you've been the recipient of negativity here and on Facebook. There is a weird sense of "immunity" permeating social media, and people write things they would never, ever think to say in real life. It is so, so disappointing.

Joanna said...

For some reason, many people still seem to think that the internet isn't the real world, that it's some virtual reality where no one is impacted. This is so wrong. It's the real world and people need to start acting that way. So I've been in and will continue to be in.

Tracey said...

Excellent post. This is one of my biggest fears for my kids. It's so hard to let them go into the big bad world. We're already struggling with things our 6 year old comes home and tell us. Is it harmless? Does it sound harmless but really it's not? Is it harmless now but won't be later? So hard. I remember this stuff so well from my own childhood. One or two kids can turn a playground into an ugly, scary place. And the Internet is a really big playground.

Your kids are lucky to have such awesome parents.

Ali Forsberg said...

Coming out of lurking to say that I always love reading your posts. I'm not even sure how I came across it years ago but it's always a highlight of my reader. This is a great post. I do not understand the hate that social media brings out. Just because you can be anonymous doesn't mean you have to be hateful in it. It's the opposite of Pay it Forward. I feel so bad for that kid and for his family. I hope he improves quickly and I hope he can see the love in the world. I have 3 kids 9,7,4 and I am scared for them and the years ahead.

Ann said...

I think that removing as much negativity from your life as you can (or have control over) is really important (as yoga teachers looooove to say, let go of that which doesn't serve you :-). I unfriended or at least hid all of my FB "friends" whose posts and comments drove me crazy and now my FB feed is full of puppies and kittens (kidding, but it has made a big difference).
I don't know why we often feel obligated to maintain relationships that are detrimental to us... Learning to let go of these is not easy, but is a very good thing in the long run.
Lots of hugs :-)

Lesley Barr Photography said...

Hugs, I love this so much. Thank you thank you.

Amy said...

I also rarely comment here, but have appreciated your insights, humor for years.
What a tragic story. My heart aches for how deeply this 11yo must have felt the hurtful words/actions directed at him.
Thank you for posting this.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Aaah, sweet Nate!

I totally love and agree with this post.

Sadly it's the not being face to face that makes people be so horrible on the internet.

Mommy, Esq. said...

This week I've been focusing on "respect" - for each other (lots and lots of yelling at each other by the kids in our house and non respecting our afternoon sitter). I'm going to make sure to talk about respecting peers too (as a way to combat bullying). Thanks for the reminder.

JenFen said...

Great post. Tough subject. Totally agree.

heather v said...

Beautiful, beautiful post. I really needed to read this today.

Julia said...

That story was all over the news even here in Brazil. Too absurd, too sad. I usually do not read news sites' comments because they make me feel like there is no hope for the world, but at least in my FB timeline the comments were in solidarity of the kid and his parents.

My kids are not bullied by peers (yet), but they are already bothered by their curly hair and say they want long, straight and golden hair like all the princesses have. Even small kids are getting permanent straightening jobs here and I don't want to take them to the local hairdressers anymore because of the comments they hear about how all the hairdressers there who originally had curly hair now straighten it every three or four months. :(

Thank you for your post and for reminding me of what really matters, Laura. Modeling and being with them. Removing negativity from our lives and showing them all the wonderful people and places we can meet and be in, to whom and where their appearance does not matter as much as their kindness.

Tanika Davis said...

This worries me so much for my kids - and all kids! It seems like the Internet has made normal childhood difficulties so much worse. I can recall being teased for being skinny, or for having a bedtime in the 7th-grade. Or I remember when a group of middle school girls decided they didn't like me and called my house saying obscene things on the phone. I remember wanting to curl up in my room and stay there forever. But there was no Facebook or IG or Snapchat to mock me continuously and reach multiples of friends and schoolmates, so eventually, the teasers got bored and moved on. Thankfully. But some of these kids don't get the chance to move on. And they don't understand that these moments in grade school are but a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of their lives. It's so incredibly sad and I don't know how you can convince a child (who lives so fully in the moment) that "this too shall pass." I pray that -- with the kind of advice that you give here -- and the grace of God, we won't have to deal with anything like the parents of that poor boy did. God, please protect the babies. Amen.

babywithatwist said...

Great post, Laura. I remember my shock at encountering D being taunted in the older 3s class at daycare last year. An alpha male in the class informed him he brought in his Hulk figure because he knew it scared him. I was livid. I'm sure we have more teasing coming for my square peg :-/
I'm surprised about the negative comments you receive - everything you post is so thoughtful and reasonable. I like to challenge and be challenged - but not rudely (hopefully), but I've learned that genuine discussion and thoughtful discourse is almost impossible on social media.

Thank you for always making me think.

Krissy said...

Laura, one of the things I so appreciate about you is your depth and how real you are. I think you have many awesome attributes that you could easily hide behind (hilarious personality traits, fantastic photography skills, super smart, etc.) but time and time again you get to the heart of the matter.

I agree, the internet can be a very vast place and some of the things people say online would get them punched in the nose in person. Thanks for being a voice for our kids. Thanks for encouraging the rest of us momma's to act in a dignified way. And heaven help the person who messes with Laura Case's kids!

Susan said...

Excellent post. I agree with Joanna above. So easy to type away and not think. I have always been in. I'm not a huge facebook fan to begin with and I have unfriended for this very reason.