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Janaye Ingram

In a society where people share and overshare details about their personal lives, there is a sense that nothing is out of bounds. Paparazzi will crash the most-sacred moments in celebrities’ lives – weddings, funerals, and anything in between — despite pleas for private lives to be off-limits.

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Ordinary people create posts sharing personal details about things that used to be taboo, and the media will pry  in to the private lives of public individuals for a breaking news story.  But beyond the photos of celebrities and their lives and the posts about Average Joe and Jane or the stories about who an elected official is dating lives a

problem that is increasing: the comments’ section — or more commonly – the bully corner.

In a world that is all the more connected and social, social circles are open fields for bullying. Pass any story or any post about a celebrity or even check out public posts on Instagram or Twitter, and you will be hard pressed not to find negativity.  It’s an all-too-common occurrence that a post about someone’s baby ends up turning into an analogy to an ugly animal. If there is a post about someone who is fighting for justice, death threats are made, and with stories about anything political, the result will be someone wishing death on the people from the other party.  These aren’t exaggerations for literary emphasis, but real reactions posted and read on the Internet or on social media.

It’s a dangerous place for us to be.  We lack compassion, understanding, and basic humanity.

There once was a time when decorum dictated that even if you thought something was less than complimentary, you didn’t actually share it with anyone because it was uncouth.  Now, people hide behind computers and locked social media pages all while hurling insults and threats to any and every one – without cause or reason.

And the results can be devastating, especially to children and teens who are still developing their coping skills.

Too many young people have committed or attempted suicide and some have committed murder because of bullying.  What message do we send to our children when, we as adults, are demonstrating the same behavior?

As children we are given the old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” the reality is that words hurt more. Broken bones heal, and most times, you have no memory of the actual pain that you endured when it happened. But the hurtful words that people level against us enters our psyche and begin to penetrate our self-perception and self-esteem.

Monica Lewinsky is a great example: After having an affair with a U.S. President as a young woman, she has been forced to live in the shadows for years as a parody only known as a footnote by the former President’s name — all while her counterpart continued on with his life.  After years of being out of the spotlight, Lewinsky is back and with a cause.  She’s going to fight cyber bullying.

As someone who knows the sting of what being under heavy and undue public scrutiny can cause, Lewinsky is fighting against those who see every opportunity to bash others.  She should be applauded for her efforts.  We need to create an online community that polices this type of negative behavior. Too many times people ignore, report, or delete these negative comments, but these bullies feel no shame.  We need to eliminate the bully culture that bleeds between in person interaction and online interactions and create spaces where we uplift and honor each other.

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