Friends, there’s something that’s become very important to me that I’d like to share and continue moving forward.
I’ve had an overwhelming and unmitigated response to a couple of recent tweets regarding bullying. The first was a link to a story about Izzy Dix , a girl of fourteen who took her own life in September after being snubbed by friends and becoming a target of bullying, both on and offline. Her last message to the world was an eloquent, personal and deeply moving poem entitled ‘I give up’. I tweeted a link to the story and later that night, unable to get it off my mind wrote down some thoughts and tweeted them also. It was partly personal catharsis, but mostly it was a gesture to the many people who had retweeted the original story, as I’d noticed that the vast majority of them were young people – people similar in age to Izzy in fact. I realised fully just how important this subject is to those affected (and I believe that number to be higher than we’d like to imagine) and judging by the speed and volume of the retweets and messages I’ve received, people of all ages clearly have experiences, opinions and messages to offer. My piece wasn’t about apportioning blame, getting even or staying angry. It was meant as a humble, sincere reminder to all who’ve been a victim of, or affected by bullying in any way that there is power and strength to be found in order to get through it, and a plea to those same people to not for one moment entertain the idea that this moment is all there is. It will pass. It will get better, and in time it will be something that you, as your future self will look back on with an empowering sense of perspective. As a result of the response and the deeply personal messages I’ve received since posting the piece, I’ve had an idea I’d like to share. I believe fully in the fact that there is strength in numbers. I believe in community. I believe that given the chance, people will share and open up and gain strength from the simple notion that none of us are truly alone. Sometimes we aren’t aware of who might be sharing our pain, who might be feeling exactly the same way as we do at this moment in time, who might have come through and triumphed over an experience like the one we find ourselves going through, but the fact is there is always someone. Always. So let’s find them. Let’s find them and identify with them and maybe even connect with them. Let’s draw strength from each other, and let’s start doing it today. Now, I’m not a web whizz or a tech head or anything like that so I’m going to keep it really simple. I’ve created an email account – firstname.lastname@example.org – I want us to write down and share our experiences, our positive outcomes, our stories of survival – stories where we’ve overcome fear or intimidation or lack of confidence. I want us all, young and old to write in with personal experiences that we feel will help those who might be enduring the same kind of treatment. I will collate these stories and examples and put them on my blog site. If we get enough we’ll create a web page and build it from there. I have to stress of course that this isn’t a helpline or a professional advice service (There are some fantastic organisations in place like the dove self esteem project and the National Bullying Helpline: 0845 22 55 787 as well as many others) I have no experience in counselling or advising anyone on a professional level – this is simply an idea to create a small thread; a community of people who can share examples and come together first-hand through unified experiences in order to see that WHATEVER the circumstances, there WILL be people who have gone through or are going through the same stuff, and if they can get through it – so can you. There are petitions to take down the website(s) that some cyber bullying is taking place on – there are people angry with schools, parents, teachers, the system – you name it. And that’s fine. Be angry. My feeling however is that even if you do succeed in punishing, banishing or demolishing certain elements of this problem, it won’t be long before another pops up. Taking down a website isn’t going to solve the deeper issue. Right now I don’t know what will. But while that stuff is being figured out, young people are living it. Today. So let’s do something today. And let’s dare to try to make that thing a positive thing. A thing of support, of encouragement – of hope. I know from the messages I’ve received that even those young people who aren’t directly affected by bullying right now know someone who is, or have been. So to every one of you – spread the word. Spread this tweet. Spread the email address – email@example.com – and let’s begin it. Izzy’s final words really affected me. I know they affected you too. Let’s honour that fact and make a start. *Your email address won’t be passed on to, shared with or disclosed to anyone unless you specifically ask for it to be. If you want to keep your email address anonymous you can do so by using a remailer, or a few other options are here: http://www.wikihow.com/Send-An-Anonymous-Email – If there are any legalities or privacy issues I’m overlooking let me know and I’ll sort before we get going.