What Bullying Looks Like As An Adult

_DSF5680I was on Facebook recently, and a friend shared a meme with a large chested woman in a dress that barely covered the basics. It looked like a wedding dress. My friend tagged someone else, and captioned it, “Don’t wear this to prom!” The rest of the comments were things like “trashy” and “she paid so much for her breasts that she couldn’t afford the rest of the dress.”

And all I could think was: that’s someone’s moment that other people are ripping to shreds.

Picture this: you’re surfing the internet, and an embarrassing photo of you comes up. Maybe you were actually doing something embarrassing. Maybe it just was an unfortunate moment where you had a wardrobe malfunction, or it looked like you were doing something you weren’t. It’s bad lighting or a bad angle.

Or maybe it’s not you. Maybe it’s your daughter. Your brother. Your best friend.

You look at the comments because you can’t help yourself, and they’re things like “trashy,” “don’t wear this!” and “she couldn’t afford the whole dress.”

What do you do if it’s someone you care about who’s being ripped to shreds?

In the case of the woman and the dress, one of the comments was from a “wedding designer” who said that the top was supposed to be higher, but had folded under the weight of her breasts. Maybe the dress came defective or the straps broke. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to look like that. Maybe she had a wardrobe malfunction, and someone snapped a photo at that moment.

Or, maybe she looked in the mirror and thought that dress was the one that made her feel pretty. Maybe she thought she looked like a princess. Does it matter?

She’s a person, just like the rest of us. And while I wouldn’t wear a dress like that, and maybe you wouldn’t either, why do any of us have the right to judge her? To bully her?

If she goes online and sees that picture of herself, how do you think she’ll feel about it? Most people, no matter how confident, can’t ignore bullying. No matter how brave we feel, something in us crumbles when we’re told, especially repeatedly, that there’s something wrong with us.

So, the next time you see a “funny” meme, think before you comment or share. Remember that it’s a real person, and if that were you, how would you feel about it being shared?

In case you’re interested, here’s a few real life stories where people found that they’d become memes.

Lizzie Velasquez was called the “world’s ugliest woman” when she was 17.

Danielle Ann is a troubled young lady who appeared on Dr. Phil, and one fake news site joked about how she’d committed suicide.

Balpreet Kaur is a Sikh, and as such, forbidden from changing her appearance. A man took a picture of her, and posted it on Reddit. This woman’s response makes me admire her endlessly. She’s the epitome of the person I’m striving to be. She gave a really great TED talk on kindness.


I’m Having a Great Time- And Have the Pictures To Prove It!

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Being the Harry Potter fan I am, I’m fond of Daniel Radcliffe.  Yes, I realize he’s not really a wizard, but it’s hard to separate them.

You never hear that much about him, mostly because he seems pretty grounded and avoided the child star curse.  He’s just a guy who does stuff.  I read a recent interview with him, and the following quote really stood out for me:

“It’s an interesting thing: The internet isn’t about having a good time — it’s about showing people you’re having a good time. When you go out to bars and clubs, nobody’s actually dancing or enjoying themselves; they’re all taking photos of themselves at the bar so that later on they can say, ‘I was there, wasn’t it great?’ It’s crazy.”- Daniel Radcliffe

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before.  Every time I go on Facebook, as a matter of fact, I wonder for maybe a second or so, “Why is everyone having more fun than me?”  And I think I finally realized, maybe they’re not.  Maybe I just don’t take pictures of all the fun stuff I do.  I don’t update Facebook with: “I just blew through 50 pages of Man’s Search for Meaning, woo hoo!” complete with photos and the ubiquitous selfie.

I read an article that said that people are having more trouble forming memories because of the rampant picture taking we do.  By looking at things through a lens, instead of better remembering them, we remove ourselves from them.  In my house, we’re in the habit of no cell phones at meal times.  I’ve been trying to see something awesome, like when I’m hiking, and resist the urge to whip out my camera phone.  The picture never looks quite the same anyway, so if I sit there and drink it up instead of photographing it, maybe I’ll enjoy it more.

I love pictures as much (or more than) the next guy, but I’m trying to be where I am.  I try to just do what I’m doing without giving into the urge to document every step I take.  It can be hard.  I love taking pictures, and I have a nifty camera with me at all times!

I don’t think that picture taking is a positive or a negative.  I just think that we should strive to do all things in moderation, and picture taking is definitely one of them.  I love digital cameras because I can snap as much as I want to, but there comes a point when it actually intrudes on the experience, instead of adding to it.

So where do you weigh in on the whole picture taking thing?




Boredom as a Path to Creativity

I never really thought of boredom being part of the path to creativity.  I just figured that there was something wrong with me as a writer that when I sit down at my computer, I immediately get distracted.  No matter how excited I was all week to have time to sit down and write, when that time actually comes, I think of all the other things I could be doing.  Not the least of which is surfing the internet, wasting time.  I think there may be something to the whole popcorn brain thing after all.

Mark McGuinness proposes that that boredom is normal and natural, and can be used as part of the creative process instead of being a hinderance.  I didn’t really think of it that way.  I was so busy getting upset with myself that I never thought about using it or forcing myself to ride it out.  Part of the problem is that being at home is distracting, but I hate leaving my house.  So tomorrow, my goal is to sit and write for an hour.  No excuses, no internet surfing.  The dishes will wait.  The dogs don’t actually need to go out right this second.

Wish me luck in my boredom!

X is for X-Files

X-files is one of the best shows ever made.  I remember that I didn’t start watching it until about Season 4.  My friend kept recommending it to me, and I kept ignoring him.  Once I finally watched it, I was hooked.  This was back in 1997, in the days before box sets, on-demand, and pirated videos on the internet.  Since I’d already missed 3 seasons, I had to watch TV in order to catch up, and it wasn’t like they played them in the correct order.

I taped each episode I watched, and I labeled the video tapes with the episode numbers and names.  I don’t remember how I got this information, since this was in the days before Mother Google showed us the way.  I just remember painstakingly labeling DVDs.

How much different would the X-files be today?  Mulder would have a Twitter feed and a Facebook group of other believers.  He’d have an iPad and would do a lot of research on that.  He’d try to capture videos of all the weird phenomena he saw on his iPhone.  Technology is both a blessing and a curse for today’s writers, because we have to write around all this technology in a logical, believable manner.

The X-files ran from 1993 to 2002.  I didn’t actually watch the last couple of seasons, after Mulder was abducted.  I did watch the X-files: I want to believe, which came out in 2008.  I know many fans of the series weren’t please with it, but I thought it was great.  It didn’t create any new holes in the various story lines that were never resolved in my opinion (black oil, anyone?), and it felt like visiting old friends.  It certainly was easier to follow than the first disastrous movie in 1998.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, they actually do have the entire series online.  Whether you’re a new fan or old, now may be the time to watch!

I want to believe…

Friday Writing Prompt- Internet Down!

I’m sorry my blog was dark yesterday, but my internet was down.  I get by okay when it’s down, but it reminds me how far technology has come.

I’m in my mid-thirties, and when I was a kid, we had a computer.  It was a Commodore 64, and then a 128.  Growing up, I played a few computer games, and my dad did early “chat” with a friend on Q-link, but I didn’t really see the big draw in computers.

Flash forward to college.  I was forced to use a computer, at least to write papers.  In my senior year, we started doing some research in the Internet.  I still didn’t get the big deal, even though I liked writing on computers and liked email.  Over the years, I’ve developed a deep love of my computer.  Now I’m on it more often than I’m not, when I’m home, at least.

Yesterday, when my internet was down, it wasn’t a huge tragedy, but it was inconvenient and just… different.

So… today’s writing prompt: Write a journal entry (or story) about your (or your character’s) evolving relationship with technology.  No matter what your (or your character’s age), at the rate technology evolves, something has changed.  Even in the last 10 years, iPhones, texting, Netflix, and the iTunes music store have all changed the face of technology.  How has it changed your life?


Technical Difficulties

I had some technical difficulties yesterday, and couldn’t get on my Internet.  It wasn’t exactly as if I were cut off from the world; I still had access to the Internet on my phone.  I just couldn’t get on the Internet on my computer.  It turned out to be that something got turned off, and I just had to turn it back on, but it was difficult to be without the Internet on my computer for one day.

I’m not that old, but I remember when computers were not a household staple.  In college, I used the campus computers, and we didn’t start using the Internet for research until my second year.  This was in the dark time before Google, and I used Altavista… It was the cream of the crop.

I’m not trying to be dramatic, but it’s odd to me how not that long ago, computers were not an intregal part of my life, and now I can’t fathom how I lived without it.

It’s not exactly “I had to walk three miles in the snow, uphill, barefoot to school, and I was grateful!” but is my war story going to be, “I remember when Google was a unit of measure, and couldn’t be used as a verb.”?