Anyone who is in the public eye can, and probably will, quickly become the target of bullies or “haters”. It is vitally important that both parents and children understand this point before a child posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snap Chat etc. As soon as anyone creates an online profile they are now “in the public eye” and have opened themselves up to being mocked, verbally attacked or bullied.
There is not necessarily going to be any rhyme or reason for the hatred or attacks, because some people just like to hate for whatever reason. This is hard for most people to understand because they want to believe that they are doing the right thing and therefore they are entitled to their opinions and should not be judged. Unfortunately, this is absolutely not the case.
As an adult, you either come to terms with this fact or you spend your whole life worried about what other people think and say about you.
I know people take issue with my books, articles, YouTube videos and Facebook posts and they make derogatory comments about me and the positions I take on bullying, family safety, building confidence, etc. I cannot say that it makes me feel good when someone criticizes me or my material, but I do take into consideration the source. If the person doing the criticizing / hating legitimately has more knowledge about a subject than I do, then I may listen to what they have to say and maybe re-think what I am saying, posting or doing. However, if they do not have the knowledge base, training, and track history of producing content or an educational background that is more substantial than mine, then I simply mentally acknowledge their opinion and I move on with my life. Based on my own training and background, I do this knowing full well that I am doing the best I can to make the world a better place by helping people become safer and more empowered.
The problem is that children, as well as many adults, do not realize that they will be criticized and they generally do not possess the coping mechanisms or rational thought process to deal with a bully or hater because they have not developed these skills yet. Plus, children usually take everything that they hear or what is said about them seriously. Often times they don’t know how to handle the criticism or hateful comments.
Contributing to this problem is:
- Parents don’t tell their children that people will hate / attack them for the things they post, the videos they produce or the opinions they present because most parents have never put out material that can be attacked and therefore do not have experience with this.
- Parents don’t realize their kids are putting material out on the net.
- Parents believe that their child’s material is good / correct / cute and therefore incorrectly conclude that nobody is going to attack the child, especially not personally, when in fact that is exactly what might happen.
These misconceptions are not necessarily the parent’s fault. Times have changed and most adults who are now of parenting age never had the opportunities with social media that kids have today, so how could they know what to expect?
Most people’s immediate response to an online hater is “people should get to say or do what they want and criticizing someone about their opinions, views, appearance etc. and trying to bully them shouldn’t happen.” In general these comments are correct, however, everyone in the public eye gets criticized and our society has made it socially acceptable.
Look at the vast array of TV shows where people are openly criticized. For example, on the Oscars every woman’s dress is critiqued and mocked if the reporter believes that it “doesn’t look good.” American Idol was horrible, especially in the first few years, in the way they openly mocked, criticized and publicly humiliated less talented people on the show purely for entertainment value. The producers could have easily not allowed the less talented people on the show or the judges could have simply been nice and encouraging even when removing someone from the show. American Idol was one of the most watched shows on TV for years partially because of the way it attacked less talented participants.
Every day news broadcasts take shots at politicians and their political talking point. Regardless of what someone’s political or social viewpoint is, somebody hates it and is quick to take shots at the person presenting it even if they themselves have no better ideas or even education on the subject.
Look at how celebrities are always being scrutinized about their appearance, political views, the quality of their movies, etc. It is open season on them all the time, but the truly big stars have come to terms with the fact that they are going to be criticized and there is nothing they can do about it. They accept it, deal with it, and move on with the peace of mind of knowing that the people doing the criticizing cannot do any better and are probably far less knowledgeable about whatever they are talking about than the person who is in the public eye.
I could expand on this list dramatically, but you get the point. Because our society has made it “okay” to so openly criticize, we have unintentionally put our children in the crosshairs of someone who just wants to hate and bully because they have seen how easy and acceptable it is. How can an annual anti-bully day, or some other short-lived awareness program, compete with the social proof of daily bullying and hating that our kids see all around them from what they consider to be credible sources? The answer is…it can’t.
Here is the point. Children should never start putting out videos, pictures, tweets, etc. without understanding that they are automatically going to become a target of somebody, or lots of somebodies, who hate and criticize them for no real reason other than they can. It is the parent’s job to make sure they have this difficult conversation with their kids and help them understand and come to the realization that there are always going to be haters, and usually they are far more vocal than supporters. It is also up to the parents to make sure that they continually follow up with their children about this issue because haters keep coming and eventually they will drown out the positive people because they are many times louder, as I mentioned earlier. If you would like a FREE report of how you can help your child with bullying problems at school, just go to www.antibullyprogram.com.
Kids who are bullied are more likely to become depressed or even commit suicide. Bullying is real and parents need to take their children seriously if they are being bullied either at school or online.
About the Author
Brett Lechtenberg has been teaching anti-bully skills to children and adults for almost twenty years and is the author and creator of The Anti-Bully Program and the Anti Cyber Bully Program and others. Learn more at Brett’s websites http://www.antibullyprogram.com and http://www.brettlechtenberg.com.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Have you talked to your children about social media etiquette and how to handle negative comments or bullying?
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