February is anti-bullying month, and next week, Wednesday, February 27, marks the 2019 Pink Shirt Day.
This year the campaign is bringing attention to cyberbullying. It would be surprising in this social media-digital world if anyone has not come across some form of cyberbullying by now, whether directed at them, sitting back and watching it happen to someone else, or being the bully.
When the word “bullying” is brought up, a lot of people jump to the school grounds, but it is not only children who are bullied. This also happens in adulthood and is becoming more prominent in the social media world.
Some of us are the bullies: we leave rude and hurtful comments or argue that we know best without ever looking into the facts or reading beyond the headline or status update. We troll pages and people, but are we even aware of what we are doing? Are those of us who do this hoping to boost our own egos and feel more intelligent, more beautiful, more popular? Or are we just mean-spirited?
Maybe it is a learned behaviour, maybe we think we are telling it how it is because that is how we see it. Although we would like to believe there is an excuse for this behaviour, most of us know there is not.
Some of us are the bullied, afraid to comment or post anything in fear of being shut down or judged publicly. Even if what someone has to say is exactly what a lot of people are waiting to hear, they feel what they have to offer is no longer important or relevant because they have been told otherwise one too many times, or shamed into thinking they are not worthy of an opinion.
Some of us are neither, really, but sit back and watch it happen. Why do we do this? Are we afraid the same ridicule or shaming could happen if we stand up and say “that’s enough?”
Some of us stand up and say something. Some of us use kind words to respond and work to change the subject. Some of us know it takes little effort to simply be kind. And most of us should know how we treat each other is how we teach and show our youth how to support one another. People being bullied need to know someone cares, someone has their back, and there are people out there who will listen.
Kindness is free; it should come easily. It is what most of us have been taught even if not shown. It requires no bent truths, no manipulations, no negative thoughts; it is pure and simple kindness.
It does not cost anything to shoot a welcoming smile or wave to someone in the coffee lineup, to react with a thumbs up or heart emoji, or tell someone you care.
Be kind to each other.