Are you being cyber bullied?

Cyber bullying post

The last 20 years has seen the rise in the wonderful world that is social media, without which I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. But what happens when this amazing tool designed to connect people together is misused? Unfortunately, being concealed behind a screen seems to give people the confidence to say hurtful and direct things that would not be said in real life.

I touched on this subject a few weeks ago about being more mindful about what we say over the Internet and how written words are different from spoken ones. Leading on from this, this blog post is a practical guide for those of you out there experiencing cyber-bullying.

Cyber-bullying is when messages of threat, intimidation or upset are sent to another individual or group with the intent of causing hurt or harm. Unfortunately, wherever you go in life, there is always going to be someone who gets a little bit of pleasure from upsetting others, for whatever reason. But when this upset is coming at you through your phone or laptop, when you cannot even see the person, it can be so intimidating.

Here are a few advice points that I have written to help someone experiencing cyber bullying:

1.You do not deserve to be treated like that.

Firstly, remind yourself that you don’t deserve to be treated badly by ANYONE. That’s a general rule of life. No one has the right to make you feel bad about yourself. EVER. Tell yourself that it is not your fault that you are in this situation. If someone else chooses to say nasty things to you, that is their choice, but how you deal with the situation is totally your decision and in your control.

 

2.Don’t respond or retaliate.

This is an important one. However tempting it might be to let rip and put this bully in their place, don’t! Because A) throwing shade back makes you just as bad as them, but also B) it is not going to help the situation, it is 100% going to make it worse and more often than not, it is going to make the situation escalate. More often than not, bullies are looking for a reaction from you so they know they have upset you. Retaliating to hurtful texts is just playing into their hands.

 

3.Don’t take matters into your own hands.

In the world of social media, things very easily go viral. So don’t be tempted, instead of messaging back, to share the posts/text messages with as many people as possible to ‘make an example of the bullies.’ This is cyber bullying too. Plain and simple. Don’t sink to their level. You are better than that.

 

4.Save the evidence.

The best thing about cyber bullying is that everything is written down, meaning you can save, screenshot or print what has been said. It eliminates the ‘well, she said…’ ‘No I didn’t…’ argument because it is written down for all to see. Save the evidence of abusive messages with the date and time stamp on them if possible. If things escalate, then you have proof to support what you are saying.

 

5.Tell an trusted adult and think about your next move together.

Whatever is being sent to you, you must tell an adult. A parent, a teacher, a neighbour, anyone you trust. Not so they can sort the problem out for you but so you can talk through what you want to do together. Two heads are always better than one. It also gives you a good opportunity to calm down and talk through what has happened before you decide what to do next. Anything done in the heat of the moment is often regretted. Take some time and get someone else’s opinion.

A trusted adult on your side will also be able to give some support if you want to make your school aware of what is going on on social media or if it is a matter for the police to deal with. This obviously depends on your individual situation but it is something to consider with someone you can openly talk to.

 

6.Use the social media tools available.

As standard and as a tool to protect their users, all social media platforms have a ‘Report User’ function for you to make them aware of unwanted happenings. They can then decide if the bully needs a time out or if they have violated the platform rules and need their account disabling all together.

If this feels a bit drastic to you, you might feel like blocking the person from contacting you is a more appropriate action for your situation. You should probably do that anyway so they cannot make contact with you.

 

7.Resilience is learnt.

One positive outcome of cyber bullying is a built up resilience, which is a skill that will be super helpful later in life. If someone is sending you horrible messages, the best thing to do would really be to ignore it. As hard as that sounds, they will soon stop it if they get no reaction.

When a new message pops up from that dreaded account, don’t open it. Just delete it. Whatever it contains, it won’t be helpful or add joy to your life so you don’t need to see it. If it carries on, use a different social media platform to connect with your friends. Remove yourself from the situation. The bullies will soon get bored and move on. It can be so hard to think like this when you are in the middle of a horrible situation but I promise you, it will end at some point. Each time you ignore a message, it will strengthen you. It will get easier. It will make you laugh at how ridiculous they are. Cue funny picture about how silly online bullies are:

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You are in control because you can walk away. Or turn off your phone in this case.

 

If you know someone who is being cyber bullied, be there for them. They would really appreciate someone to talk to about it. Quite often people don’t want someone to swoop in and save the day, just knowing there is someone there so they are not going through it alone is often just the support they need.

My final piece of advice, and it is an important one, is this:

Please, please, PLEASE think about the things you are sending to other people electronically, whether it is over social media or texts or emails. Even when you are sending things to people who are your friends. How often do we see in the news that a celebrity’s sex tape has been leaked, or naked pictures that were sent to a boyfriend have ended up on the Internet for the world to see? Once it is on the Internet, it will always be on the Internet, you loose control over who sees it or shares it. Please think before sending anything so that you don’t end up in a difficult situation in the future. Please protect yourself. As sad as it sounds, people who are your friends currently may not always be your friends. If you aren’t prepared to put it on a bulletin board for the world to see then don’t send it to anyone!

Sarah x

Who is your friend there?

How is it that your pores know exactly when you have a special event coming up like school picture day or a party? It can’t be coincidence that it is ALWAYS on that day you wake up with a fresh spot outbreak!! Anyone else get a mental image of their pores all sitting around a table having a meeting, discussing when would be most inconvenient to deliver a fresh wave of spots?

I felt like Benjamin Button when I was 17/18. The older I was getting, the more spots I seemed to have. It was getting worse by the day. Not in an acne kind of way, just those ones with the little white heads on them. I must have tried every product on the shelf: face packs, cleansing gels, anti-spot cremes etc etc. Especially when I saw a new advert on the TV. I was always convinced that the happy teenagers on the screen wouldn’t lie to me, that this new product was the one I had been waiting for.

It has taken me years to get to a stage when I don’t wake up with a new little friend on my face. It brings me a lot of joy that I can finally say I have found some facial products that I am pleased with and use every day. I am by no means an expert, but I would like to share these products with you as they are how I keep my spots at bay.

The best tip I was ever given was the classic step by step ritual:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Moisturise

Honesty, doing this, without fail, both morning and night made such a difference to my face. I used to be really lazy and just wash my face with a face wash and then sometimes moisture if I remembered. I have tried products from pretty much all of the companies on the shelves but I have found that the Simple range suits my skin the best. I use the Simple Cleansing Face Wash to clean my face in the morning and wash my make up off at night. I then tone my face with the Simple Facial Toner (see picture).

To moisturise, I use Oil of Olay Day Fluid. It is not the cheapest product out there but even the smallest bottle will last you ages. It is thick enough to moisturise my fairly dry skin but not so heavy that I feel greasy. I always thought that if you had naturally greasy skin like I did, then adding moisturiser to it would just increase the grease, but I was told by one of those beauticians behind the counter at John Lewis that if you don’t moisturise every day then your pores will produce more oils to compensate. So if you moisturise your face with a product, your pores won’t be so active. (I didn’t learn this until I was about 23 and it changed my life!).

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Unfortunately, as much as I have tried to ignore it, eating chocolate and sweets makes your spots worse. I’m not going to lie, it breaks my heart to type this for all to see but I cannot ignore this fact any longer. Sugar increases the spots on my face. After having a right sulk about it for a few months, I vowed to try and watch what I was eating before a special event like a party. It probably wasn’t a bad thing anyway because I ate waaaaaay too much chocolate so being a bit healthier was only going to benefit me in the long run, aside from clearing up the spots of my face. I always try and drink water when I am at home too as I find it helps my skin look fresher.

I am by no means an expert or a beautician or anyone professionally linked to these beauty products but I thought it might be helpful to some of you out there to hear about my experiences and my own research. Everyone is difference and everyone has different needs with their facial products so you might need a heavier cleanser or a thinner moisturiser, depending on what your skin is like but let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter/Instagram. It would be awesome if we could share some of our secrets with each other!

Also, I am super interested in trying those black face masks that target black heads. I have so many black heads on my nose, they need some attention! If anyone can recommend one to me, that would be excellent! Advice columns go both ways!

Sarah x

Disclaimer: I am not endorsed by any of these products, the thoughts above are my own personal experiences and should not be followed instead of professional advice!

What did you say?

I wouldn’t like to count how many times in a day I use the Internet. Between Facebook, Instagram, blogging, Twitter, I must be on the Internet for the majority of the time I am awake. And when I should be asleep! It is a wonder I have time to do anything else. Even when out and about, if I can’t find where I am going, I will whip out my phone and use the Map app, or check train times, or google a shop location.

But what happens when it goes sour? With the wonders and marvels of the Internet comes the other side: the trolling, the cyberbullying, the hiding behind your keyboard to tell people home truths you would not dare say to someone’s face. I write this post as a friendly reminder about social media. I will be writing another post about copying with cyberbullying at a later date.

I run different Instagram accounts, covering an array of different topics and areas of my life. 99% of the time, the interactions I have with people are positive. However, an incident happened last month that shocked me a little bit. Scrolling through the comments on one post, I noticed a couple of things being said that I found quite offensive. I am not here to name and shame, or even to tell you what was said, but for the first time since starting my accounts, I felt threatened. I am a big girl and knew what was being said were empty threats but still, I knew I didn’t deserve to be spoken to like that.

This got me thinking. I am strong enough to ignore these comments but I know that some people would have been really upset by them. That is the problem with the Internet. Written words have none of the qualities that speech has. There is no intonation, no facial expressions, no body language, which we take in without realising it to understand things that are said to us. The non-verbal cues that we take for granted because we don’t actively think about them.

A phrase like ‘shut up’ can be taken in a number of ways. The cast of TOWIE use it instead of ‘You’re kidding me.’ People say it in a playful way, in defence to being teased, or even in a ‘please carry on complimenting me’ way, but written down, the phrase is: Shut. Up. Sounds a bit aggressive doesn’t it? Just this week, a family member was teasing his mum that her texts are always in capital letters, making him think she is shouting at him. She replied that she had turned on her Caps Lock months ago and couldn’t get it off again! But he wasn’t to know that because all he could see were words that were being emphasised. No facial expressions, no loudness of voice to give him clues as to whether his mum was angry or not.

Back to Instagram, I wrote back a polite retaliation to my horrible comments saying that this language was inappropriate and I would prefer them to unfollow me if they thought it was an acceptable way to speak to someone, and all of a sudden I was inundated with messages from each guilty party saying how they hadn’t meant it, and I had interpreted it wrong, or they were only joking etc etc. I thanked them for their apology and there are no hard feelings between me and them, it is sorted now and all good. But I felt like this was a good example of what can happen while on the Internet. Things can be misinterpreted. While using the Internet, it is our responsibility to use it with care and keep in mind that words typed are just that: Words on a page. No intonation, no smiling while you say it, no playful slaps of arms to show you are speaking in jest.

People seem to find a new found sense of confidence when they are typing on a keyboard. I don’t believe for a second they would be brave enough to say those horrible things to someone’s face, but seem to find it easy when tweeting or commenting. Like the screen acts as a barrier to shield them from identity or the stress and drama of a face to face conversation.

I guess what I am trying to say is, please take a moment to think about the things you type to people on social media. Things can be misunderstood, misread, misinterpreted and someone will get hurt. Most probably both parties involved. Read the actual words you have written, removing the emotions from it, and see the words for what they are. And what they mean. It will bring us back to the intention of social media, to introduce us to people we wouldn’t ordinarily meet, to develop friendships with people of all walks of life. To connect us all.

Sarah x