Shortly after hearing the sad news of the tragic suicide of Charlotte Dawson, I was scrolling through my Facebook page when I came across what someone deemed to be a harmless image of a couple from the current season of My Kitchen Rules. There is an obvious age gap for this couple, but I am of the opinion of 'whatever floats your boat', however the author of this picture felt the need to add the caption that the female half of the couple is 'not a trophy wife, but a participation medal.' The underlying message of this throwaway comment would be very offensive and hurtful to the woman it is aimed at.
Time and time again, we fail to understand the impact bullying can have on people Image Source: www.freedigitalphotos.net 'Teenage Girls Gossiping Stock Photo by Ambro'
In my opinion, it is very dangerous that our society accepts this type of social commentary as normal and humorous. I don't understand what the author of this type of commentary is trying to achieve. It is as though they forget that the person in the public eye is in fact a normal, everyday human with feelings. They fail to understand that these comments might be hurtful, not only to the person themselves but their close friends and family as well. The comments may even be as far reaching as other couples whose relationship may mirror that of the couple of this show.
It is not only dangerous, it also sends a mixed message to the community, in particular, our younger, more influential members. There are so many anti-bullying campaigns out there, in schools, workplaces and the like, yet it seems that we accept this commentary and shrug it off as a normal part of our everyday lives.
What message is this sending to our children? On one hand, we educate them that this behaviour is not acceptable and we try to build their self esteem, then on the other hand, it only takes a simple 'like' of a comment on Facebook or a throw away giggle and all the education is undone.
I wonder if those creating these 'memes' would say the same thing to the person if it was to their face? I doubt it. However, it seems that they feel protected or more confident to voice their opinion hiding behind their computer screen.
If we truly want to stop the bullying, we must first step back and assess our day to day behaviour and reaction to this chatter in the public forum. We must reject the constant stream of images and opinions that flood our television screens and Facebook feeds - because the more we watch or read it, the more it is fuelled.
Let's take a stance together and stop all forms of bullying, whether it's over the Internet, in the playground, work place or amongst friends. Image Source: freedigitalimages.net 'Stop Bullying Stock Image by David Castillo Dominici
So I ask you, next time you hear a friend commenting on how 'useless that contestant on The Block is' or 'how ugly that model is now she has dyed her hair or lost/gained weight' etc. Please do not comment, do not add fuel to the fire, simply change the subject. Or, if you're feeling brave, why not politely decline from participating in the conversation and explain that you're taking a stance against all forms of bullying. Make a positive statement and you might just get others thinking and changing their behaviour to this ugly underbelly of our modern society.
If you or someone you know if struggling with depression or experiencing any form of bullying, there is help out there. Contact LifeLine Australia on 13 11 14 or online here LifeLine Australia
This morning Kyle & Jackio are appealing to the public to sign this petition
The petition asks that the Australian Government and the state government's enforce the existing anti-bullying and harassment laws, and take action against those who violate them. They are asking that Social Media companies take a more active role in the prevention of cyber bullying, and take more responsibility in monitoring posts of 'hate'. We ask that together we unite to change the cyber bullying platform.
Click through the link to support this appeal for Charlotte's Law. It's a step in the right direction.