We Let Each Other Down


This post is about a recent suicide that has reported and commented on in many different realms of social media.

There are no images in this post. There are no video images. And there are no links. This is done out of respect for the family and a desire to keep from encouraging the triggering nature of this disturbing and distressing story.

This morning I was waiting in a hospital waiting room. If you’re not too nervous about what you’re waiting for, waiting rooms are great places for surreptitious people-watching, and I did my fair share while I waited. What I immediately noticed was that every adult (except me who was busy watching) in the room had their eyes and fingers glued to their phone. What’s more, the organisation in whom whose waiting room we were sitting, was advertising on the wall, their ‘free wi-fi’ to waiting patients.

The internet is something that we watch from morning ’til night, and then into the night for many of us. We can’t put it down, and that’s exactly what the designers of social ap’s want. They want every adult in the room glued to their screens. They’d probably like children too, but in this waiting room, the only children were babies. This is what those babies have in store for them in the years ahead.

The internet and social media, in particular, is great. There’s no denying that. Until a 12-year-old girl films her suicide on a livestream, and no one stops her. No one gets to her in time. Then we let each other down, her most of all.

Many people have written about this since it happened, and maybe you’re sick of the subject. Maybe you think it’s time to let this 12-year-old rest in peace. And there’s no doubt in my mind, that she deserves some peace. It’s okay with me if you choose not to read this post as a result, but I simply have something that if I never put into words, I will never get peace.

We let each other down if we are glued to the internet but we don’t use it to save a 12-year old’s life.

It’s likely that most of us learned of this tragic and horrific event after the fact. I certainly did, and I immediately made a decision that I was not going to watch the tape of this girl’s death. It wasn’t going to serve any purpose in hindsight. I could do nothing. I also resolved not to read too many articles, posts and comments (that’s why I don’t mind if you don’t read mine). They would simply upset me further than I was already upset. Why? Because human beings can be cruel, and it’s in this instance that I believe we see the worst of it.

Perhaps what has upset me the most is the people who commented on the livestream at the time and egged the 12-year-old on. Suicide baiters. People who see a potential suicide and encourage the person to ‘jump’. In a ‘nice’ society it would be good to think that such people didn’t exist, but they do. And they did, in this case.

A friend of mine lost her son to suicide some years ago, when people watching him on the edge of a building shouted at him, encouraging him to jump. What’s more, several uniformed police were watching and did nothing. He did jump and he died. My friend has lost her son forever. The suicide baiters got what they wanted, although for the life of me I can’t imagine what it was that they wanted.

Whether we egg someone on or do nothing, we all carry that person’s life in our hands for the rest of our days. Even if we simply did nothing, I believe that we let this 12-year-old down and we let each other down as fellow human beings.

We have the ability through the internet to make sure that 12-year old human beings are safe. When they choose to record something like this and put it on some form of social media, we have the opportunity to keep them safe. When that doesn’t happen, I have to wonder whether it has lost its point.

Sure, social media is not simply about suicide prevention and keeping at-risk people safe. Sadly, it seems such stories simply become entertainment. But when we have that opportunity, surely we have to grab it with both hands.

Facebook is currently being criticised for refusing to take down posts which give a link to the livestream, and I think the criticism of the company is warranted. It serves no healthy purpose now other than as a statement of the day we as a human race let down this child with irreversible consequences. Now, it is voyeurism. And if anything, it eggs on other people at risk of suicide and self-harm.

Facebook say that the posts in question don’t violate their community standards. I am inclined to think that if their standards allow this to be posted, I’m not sure I want to be part of their community.

On a good note, apparently a few days ago, a man in Thailand tried to livestream his suicide attempt. A friend intervened and his life was saved. If only it had been this way for our 12-year-old.

It breaks my heart that young people are dealing with such heartache and trauma that they are considering, and acting, on suicide. I don’t have children, but I do have a 12-year-old niece and several nephews who have been 12 in recent years. I can’t bear the thought of them suffering to this degree, and reaching out without anyone reaching back with help.

Our twelve-year-olds deserve our protection. Whether we know them personally or not, they deserve at the very least that we don’t let them down.

At the point in which the 12-year-old posted this video, we as a society should have responded more than we did. Apparently, it is possible to hear friends and family calling out for her. But it wasn’t enough. They didn’t get to her in time. We human beings didn’t do enough.

And now that this 12-year-old has tragically died, the record of her suicide needs to be taken off social media out of respect for her and her family. Any viewing of her video now is outright voyeurism. It’s wrong, and it will only distress people who are probably already distressed or provide some sick sense of satisfaction to people who need their heads read (and I’m not talking about people who have valid mental illnesses). But we do have to ask as a society, what did we do wrong and how do we make sure this never happens again. We need to talk about this in all aspects of society.

We have to stop letting each other down. We have to keep our 12-year-old’s safe.

“there is a loneliness in this world so great
that you can see it in the slow movement of
the hands of a clock.

people so tired
either by love or no love.

people just are not good to each other
one on one.

the rich are not good to the rich
the poor are not good to the poor.

we are afraid.

our educational system tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.

it hasn’t told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.

or the terror of one person
aching in one place

unspoken to

watering a plant.”

― Charles Bukowski, Love Is a Dog from Hell

Thanks for reading




Stand By Me… But Just A Few Will Do

When we live with chronic illness, either mental or physical, it’s all too often that we have to focus on those who don’t stand by us. Those who we thought were friends (or family), but don’t want to know us now.

Over the years there have been many friends like that.  They’re particularly those who didn’t like how I was choosing health treatment options, as if it was up to them.

Then there were those who objected to some of the changes I made in my life.  I can give you a whole list of those who run for the hills when I started smoking.  My overly enthusiastic drinking was always kept under wraps, so that never gave people the chance to exit stage left.  My self harm was also kept under wraps, or at least under my clothes so again, people didn’t have the chance to run.  When I stopped going to church, that was another trigger for some to go.  Over time, plenty just left.  They skulked away presumably just because I was different now.

My ex-husband was one of the first.  From outward appearances it seemed that I was the one who left him.  I was the one, after all who packed my bags and left the house.  My house. But that was only after several conditions that he laid down in front of me.  He wanted me to change, or I couldn’t stay.  I chose to leave.  I think he was surprised (did he think he was that good?), but I guess he got over it.

It’s easy to focus on those people who left.  Yes, it hurts very badly.  Yes, there were times I wondered if anyone would like me ever again.  There were great losses involved when any person who had been close… left.

Image Credit: Squelle, Wikipedia.com
Image Credit: Squelle, Wikipedia.com

But actually there were people who stayed.  Even when I tried to push them away.  While I was hurt by those who weren’t interested in being in my life anymore, strangely those who still wanted to be there, I pushed away.  I was scared that if I didn’t push them away, they might choose (after all) to leave.

The first friend who comes to mind, just kept on coming back.  I know the choices I made for my life were not hers.  I know that some of the choices I made, just made no sense to her.  But she kept being there.  I know some of the things I came to believe in were not her beliefs.  Actually I kept expecting her to walk away.  But she didn’t.  She kept being there.  Nowadays we don’t see each other often, but we can still add up 25 years of friendship.  We live in different parts of the country, and to some extent, we have drifted.  But I know she would be there if I needed her.  And to me, that’s what counts.

The other person who quickly comes to mind has been my friend even longer, and no matter how much I’ve pushed her away across the years, she too, is still there.  I remember not wanting to see her when she came to visit me in a psych hospital.  Visitors are few and far between in a psych hospital but she kept coming, even though I admit I would fake a headache or something so I didn’t have to see her.

Having done that repeatedly embarrasses me now.  It was a long drive to come out to see me, yet I would regularly refuse to see her.  It was really about hating myself so much that I couldn’t bear to be seen.  I understand that now, but I still don’t know if she understood it.  Maybe not.  But she continues to be my friend. Again different parts of the country now mean we don’t get to talk often, but we caught up recently and it was great.  I felt completely accepted, just as I was.  What more could I want?

I don’t have a lot of friends now.  Just a few will do.  Should I say, I don’t have a lot of what we call ‘real life friends‘.  That’s partly been my choice, partly people who have left, and partly something that has come about because of the illness.  People leave just because they don’t ‘get it‘.  Even ‘internet friends‘ I’m not interested in having hundreds of friends.

What I am interested in having is friends like those above, who I know will stand by me.  As cheesy as it sounds I want friends who will be there for me, and will allow me to be there for them. I’m not interested in anything else.  I just don’t see the point.  Judge me and I’m simply not interested.

I think age helps.  In your twenties I get that it’s maybe hard to say a few friends will do.  Even harder to be satisfied with staying in on Saturday nights.  It’s hard again to have a quiet feed on all social media sites.

When I hurtled violently into the world of mental illness, I was in my twenties.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m not there anymore.  Frankly though, I’m glad I’m not.  Quantity doesn’t matter so much now, I’d rather have quality, or at least those who will stick around no matter what I hurtle through.

It’s a little bit cheesy now, but it’s true, so here it is…

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen

Will A Haircut Transform My Life?

Anyone for a haircut? "Image courtesy of [franky242] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".
Anyone for a haircut?
“Image courtesy of [franky242] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.
 Among other things, it has been on my mind this week that I need to get a haircut.  Badly.  I hate getting my haircut.  It’s worse than going to the dentist for me, so even thinking about it is difficult.  Actually I hate it so much that while I know a haircut would improve my appearance, I’m sure it does nothing else for me than raise my anxiety levels, not to mention the trauma of putting myself through the ordeal.  I even wonder if Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a possibility.

So I was curious when I saw this story was the ‘most shared‘ on Facebook on Veterans Day this past week.  This You Tube clip has been viewed almost 14 million times.  A haircut has gone viral on social media.

Here’s a homeless veteran with a history of alcoholism. He was given a makeover back in September, and the results were scheduled to be released on social media on Veterans Day. It was timed to fit with a campaign to raise funds for veterans (by getting a haircut).  The social agency (Dégagé Ministries) involved happened to also make a substantial amount from donations from the social media activity.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m really pleased for the man.  He got his haircut, some new clothes including a leather jacker apparently, and he finally got listed for some housing  And he’s started going to AA meetings.  That’s great.  Except I’ve got this nagging sense of ‘there’s something not quite right here‘.  I’m wondering was it the haircut that meant this man finally got some help?

Why does he have to change his appearance in order to hit the big time on social media? He’s still the same person inside.  Why does a trimmed beard and highlighted hair enter him into the great social media hall of fame?  I just don’t get it.  14 million people watched this particular clip but there are plenty of other news sites also carrying the story, and particularly the haircut.

In my mind what matters is the person inside.  His appearance doesn’t count for anything.  Somehow because he put on a tie, he has become acceptable and maybe even ‘one of us’.  I wonder though, how he feels.  Social media are raving about the haircut (as I am, ironically) but who cares about the obviously broken man inside?  That’s what matters, surely.

I could go on about this but really I just wonder, am I the only one who thinks we’ve got something wrong here?  What do you think? Is it necessary to get a haircut, in order to access welfare services that should be available regardless of how he looks?

Social media is really good for lots of things, but I really wonder whether we’ve lost sight of what matters.  In my mind the haircut means nothing.  It’s healing the wounds inside and meeting the basic needs of life that will really make this man’s life live-able for him.  If the rest of us want a makeover show then there’s plenty on reality television.

As for me, I guess I’ll eventually get that haircut, but I doubt it will go viral.  I won’t be putting it on YouTube.  I know you’re disappointed, but I’m relieved.

“Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.” 

― Aesop

Defining Friendships

Across my life I have had many people try to define who my friends should be.  Some were successful in their attempts, probably because I wasn’t strong enough to stand up for what I wanted and for what I knew I should have.

As a child, I had a number of adults who deemed that their offspring were not allowed to be friends with me.  What had I done wrong to get this judgement?  I was a Preacher’s Kid, and Preachers Kids had a reputation for being ‘off the rails‘ and generally a bad influence.  I wasn’t ‘off the rails‘ at the time, and if anything their offspring were probably a bad influence on me.  But the ‘jury’ had me announced to be bad news, simply because of my father’s profession, and so it was difficult to have the friendship we might have wanted.

As a teenager, and then as an adult, I spent many years being the victim of two stalkers.  Society seems to have this idea than stalking, and being stalked is a bit of a joke.  It’s not.  Among other things it plays serious havoc with the mental health of both the stalked, and the stalker.  Stalking is never a joke!

It was difficult not to let my friendships be defined by the actions of these two men.  Friends were an access point to their victim, and so I constantly had to be careful about who I spent time with, what I told them and where I went with friends. Some of my friends at the time were amazingly supportive, and I will always feel much gratitude to them for the way they supported and protected me.  But other friends fell by the way side.  It was simply necessary for trying to maintain that mental health, but I feel sad that I have missed out on much because of this.

By the time the stalking terror was over, I was married and again, I was told who my friends should and shouldn’t be.  Perhaps most memorable to me is the friend who was ‘barred’ from our house, particularly while my husband was at work.  She was barred because she smoked (he didn’t realise that I had started smoking by then), she too had a mental illness, and perhaps the most dastardly ‘deed’ was that she was a lesbian.  All of that made me more angry than ever, for so many reasons.  This particular attempt to define my friends very nearly ended in tragedy.  Thankfully it didn’t, but it was certainly not without lasting harm to both of us.  And to my marriage, which is long since over thankfully.

All of this came to mind in a disturbing manner this week when I discovered (I’m probably months behind most people) that Facebook has decided for itself who my ‘close friends’ are.  What’s more, without my permission, Facebook will tell these ‘close friends’ of my activity on Facebook.  The cringe factor sky-rockets for me instantly, and what I want to do is run as far away as possible from Facebook.

This might seem extreme to many, but not for me.  Again, I am being told who my friends are, and scarily similar to the many years I spent being stalked, I find that those ‘close friends’ get information about me which I have not agreed too.  Remember too that these ‘close friends’ are not my close friends.  A few maybe, but they are simply Facebook friends I have contact with regularly on Facebook.

I object strongly, Facebook.

Now that at least some of these people get a notification when I am ‘on-line’ (even though I permanently have the chat function turned off),  I am starting to feel stalked again.

People know what I am doing, and when I am doing it.  This is the scariest thing when you have been stalked.  The stalker knows more of what I do than even I know.  Somehow they seem to know before I do something.  They constantly know everything, and I have little or often no power to stop that.  I am left with that familiar feeling that there is someone standing outside my windows just watching me.  I lived with that reality for 15 years, and many years following as I tried to recover from the trauma of living this way.

Yet again, my friendships are defined by others.  Just when I’m learning to define myself, I have a social media that wants to do that for me.  That completely freaks me out.  It seems that I have little control over who Facebook determines to be my ‘close friends’ and I have no control over what they get told about what I do.

This time social media has gone too far for me.  I know that most people won’t even get why I am so disturbed for by this, and in a way, I am glad because it tells me you haven’t had to live as a prisoner of another.  As for me though, I need to work out what to do.  I can’t live like this.  Time for some thought.

“I cried for all of those things that should have just been for us…” 

― Kate Chisman, Creep

Poison In, Poison Out

I’ve taken a break from Facebook for a while.  I’ll still keep my page (Infinite Sadness or what?)active but my personal profile is what I’m taking a break from.

I love my Facebook friends.  Some of them are friends from way back, or family, and some are wonderful people I have got to know and love through of Facebook.  But sometimes what I see on Facebook is too negative, and this time I have decided that it was affecting my health and I should take a short break.  Just enough to gain my perspective back.

Why do I need this?  You may well ask.  Facebook has some wonderful features to it, but lately I’ve seen too much bitterness, hatred, intolerance, judgement and hurt.  When I see too much of it, it starts to seep in and run me down.  It comes from lots of sources.  Some completely unknown to me, although appearing on my newsfeed anyway, and some closer to home.

I know there is also a lot of positive material on Facebook, and that’s why I put so much time into my page, but it’s hard to stay positive when that is being undermined.

The last few weeks have been pretty hard for me.  That’s not just from one source but a number of unrelated issues in my life.  My depressed mood has, in some cases, spun that out of proportion to the point where I was crying over the bowl my canine mate, Duncan needed to eat his dinner.  Yes,really.

Those issues, and my depressed mood have contributed to a flare up of my fibromyalgia symptoms.  That’s not unexpected for me.  I strongly believe that my fibro is affected by my emotions and my state of mind.  I know most sufferers disagree with this theory, and that’s fine.  It is however proven in my mind that my emotions influence the level of physical pain and fatigue I experience.

Last night after a day of bad nerve pain which was addling my brain, I accidentally took the wrong medication.  This wasn’t an intentional overdose, nor was it a suicide attempt.  It was simply that my mind wasn’t on the job when I was getting my medication for the night, and I got it wrong.  Stupid really, but it happened.

The night that followed was full of nightmares, and at one stage a belief that I was plummeting toward psychosis.  Actually I was terrified.  It was one pill I wasn’t supposed to have (with the others) and I was pretty unwell.

Today I am fine and I am reminded that when we put poison in, the outcome is also poison.  The poison that time was nightmares and a general ‘I’m going crazy‘ notion.  But it ties in with what I said about Facebook.  When I feed my mind with too much negativity from Facebook, then I feel that negativity.  I simply don’t want to go there and I certainly don’t want to end up generating more.

It is really important to me to be there for my friends, but if I don’t take care of myself then I can be no use to anyone else.  Whether that is conveyed in depressed mood, fibro symptoms, taking the wrong medication or anything else.  I have to look after me.

The ‘garbage in, garbage out’ theory is one I am well aware of from a nutritional basis.  I admit I’m not too good at following it, but I know how it works.  My mother was a dietitian after all, and I have had an eating disorder.

It’s the same for emotions.  If I don’t feed myself with good messages, then I get sick.  That’s not something I want.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” 

― Deborah Day

Maybe I’m Not A Real Woman

English: Red Pinterest logo

Sometimes I just have to admit it. While there is a lot about me that indicates I might be a woman, there is also much which suggests that I’m not. Pinterest is just one of those things. Pinterest bores me senseless.  There.  Said it.

Some months back I decided that in order to spread the word of this blog, that maybe I should follow the masses and sign up on Pinterest. It would be one more place I could share my posts, in the hope that it would increase my readership. And I thought that maybe I might find something there that interested me. Wrong… on both counts.

I’ve never once had someone come to my blog from Pinterest, and while what I’ve seen all looks very pretty and nice (BTW, those words just don’t do it for me), I have simply struggled to see the point.  For me, it’s up there with reading Fifty Shades of Grey.  Certainly the two are very different, but what is the point of either?  In my mind, a complete waste of my time.

So I am told, Pinterest is a women’s thing.  Hmm.  Actually I am sure there are plenty of men on there too, but if it is a women’s thing, then I am obviously not a real woman.  Is something lacking from my genetic makeup?   Clearly, yes.  I simply just don’t see the point.

Pinterest tells me it is “a tool for collecting and organizing things you love“.  Surely, if anything, it is a tool for collecting and organising images of things you love.  It seems a little like collecting postcards from yesteryear, of places you dream of travelling.  Personally I’d rather collect stamps on my passport and actually see the places for myself.  What’s more, I also found it more interesting to read what was written on postcards, than simply the picture of a far off place.

Yesterday in my in-box was the weekly email from Pinterest telling me the ‘things that I love’… apparently.  I think they’re pushing it if they think they can tell what I love from my participation on the site.  Apparently, I will love:

Red lentil and coconut soup    (I hate lentils!)

“bows on the back of a t-shirt. this is adorable …” (that would look ridiculous on me!)

The New York Times. 36 Hours. 150 Weekends in the US and Canada   (ah, wrong countries!)

“bought my sister one of these in university, she’s …”   (I don’t have a sister!)

Marilyn + puppy   (is SO not me!)

Iceland   (looks the most interesting of the lot but still not something I want to ‘collect’!)

It’s all marginally better than the random pictures of mansions, room layouts, recipes, makeup, gardens, clothes, hair styles…   need I go on?  All of this is so not me.  And even if it was, why would I waste my time ‘collecting’ images of it all instead of making it all reality?  It’s really the ‘flicking through glossy magazines’ for the 21st century.  I was never into that last century, so it just makes no sense and says ‘complete waste of time’ to me.

All that said, I know many people (particularly women) who love Pinterest, and if you are one of those, I am happy for you.  You go on ‘collecting’ all these ‘wonderful’ things.  Enjoy, have fun with your collections.  Maybe I’m just ‘man’ enough (now there’s a joke) to say I don’t need these things.  There is enough on the internet without living with what I see as the fantasy of Pinterest.

Oh, and I can’t for the life of me see why people want to post pictures of what they cooked for dinner either.  Am I meant to be interested in that too?  I’m not.

“I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.” 

―    Madonna

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.” 

―    Robert A. Heinlein

Definition of Stupid

Believing everything you read on Social Media is true.

Social media is not Academia, and so everything that is said, is not backed up by 20+ references to prove it is fact.  It is simply a reflection of what someone wants to say.  And yes, even what I write here should not be taken as fact.  Is the above definition really the definition of stupid?  If you take the time to check it out in a Dictionary, for example, you will know that in fact this isn’t the definition of stupid.

It’s my definition of stupid for today, simply because it is something weighing heavily on my heart today.  It doesn’t make it true, and if you choose to believe that it must be true because I said it, then (I’m sorry but) you are stupid.

According to a more worthy source of factual information than me, The Oxford Dictionary, stupid is defined as:

lacking intelligence or common sense (1.)

Or if you don’t want to take such an academic approach, The Urban Dictionary, which for all it’s downfalls makes some valid points, defines stupid as:

Someone who has to look up “stupid” in the dictionary because they don’t know what it means. (2.)

The problem with stupid (and I’m thinking of this in terms of social media) is that stupid takes what it reads on social media, believes it to be true, and then makes judgements about people on that basis of that which is probably not true.

I’ve written about the tendency to judge people before, so I don’t want to repeat myself.  Personally I don’t believe I have the right to judge other people.  It’s simply not my job as a fellow human.  I am just as flawed as the next person, and therefore have no right to stand in judgement.

Of course you may not feel that way, and I have no right to expect you to think as I do, but if you’re going to judge a person, at least check your facts.  What is said on Facebook, Twitter or even on WordPress is not necessarily true.  It maybe completely fabricated, and by your choice to blindly believe what you read, you run the risk of creating a whole lot of hurt.

Image credit: FB- Peeling Away The Layers
Image credit: FB- Peeling Away The Layers

If we want to stand in judgement of other people, let’s at least make sure we have our facts right.  Let’s at least make sure we’ve given the person we’re judging the opportunity to speak and that we’ve heard all of the story.

When we don’t, the risk of losing what is so important to us is much greater than we stupidly think.

“Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.” 

―    Jim Butcher,    Vignette

This Is Not About Animal Cruelty

Image credit: Flickr.com/iambentshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/superciliousness/15026740/
Image credit: Flickr.com/iambents

Somewhere along the way I learnt to ask myself ‘what can I learn from this?’, when I see sad, or bad things.  It’s not a bad way to approach things when I think about it, and I suspect it is something that my father taught me, by example.

I’ve had a pretty tough weekend.  I can’t go into the details out of respect for people I love.  I know that’s not really the idea of a blog (in many eyes), but you’ll have to bear with me on this one.  I’d rather talk about what I’m learning than about the details.

This morning I saw a particularly nasty picture of animal abuse and cruelty, when I went through my Facebook news feed.  The issue of animal cruelty has always been important to me.  It is so wrong and I hate what is done to animals in the name of humans who think they have the right to do what they like.

I haven’t included the picture in this post, partly because it’s not my picture and getting permission to use it would be time consuming; but more so, because it is simply too disturbing.  If you feel the need to see it, you’ll find it on the Empathy 2012: wake up – change yourself – change the world Facebook page.  But it’s simply a visual image that got me thinking.

Let me try to describe the picture.  There is what looks like a carcass of a rhinosaurus.  It has been severely butchered, and it is clear to see that the tusk has been savagely removed.  No doubt that is the reason for the killing.  Next to the carcass is a live baby rhino leaning against what is said to be the remains of its mother.  The caption on the picture says:

“This calf was found crying next to its mother; traumatized, devastated; and extremely lucky to be alive.  It is horrendous what these animals goes through.  This is how it currently is.”

This picture. as I ate my breakfast, broke my heart and made me feel physically sick.  It’s not so much a ‘tug on the heart strings’ image but a terrible witness of the cruelty of man.  That said, this post is not about animal cruelty.

My first thought was “who could do this?” but then I know the answer to that.  This is a regular event as people hunt rhinos for the value of their tusks.  This is what human beings do.

Without wanting to take away from the horror of animal abuse, my mind switched to “people do this all the time to other people with words”.  Often without a thought, we cut people down with our words.  Maybe we don’t leave them dead, quite like the picture I have described, but I can’t pretend that words don’t have the ability to kill just as much as the knife these hunters used to butcher the rhino.

It is all too easy to think of only the self, and to just say what ever comes to mind.  I’m no expert on bullying but it seems to me that is what happens in the case of a bully.  But bullies aren’t just kids in the school corridors or on social media. They are also adults who should know better but just never think about anyone but themselves.

I’ve mentioned this issue before (see Disturbing) but I keep reading blog posts about teenagers who have been bullied to the extent that they have taken their own lives.  Yesterday I read of an 11 year old who recently died.  Yes, that’s right.  She was only 11.

These are the cases that make it to our screens, that the media picks up on (and has a field day!) but I think we potentially do this to other people every day, simply because we don’t think before we speak or act.  Okay, so I might be exaggerating and not every interchange like this ends in suicide.  My point though is the harm that we are all capable of doing to others when we don’t stop and think, when we don’t put ourselves in the other’s shoes, when we don’t simply treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves.

So often we can say things, and never know the consequences of what was said.  And while we are not responsible for how another person reacts to what we say, I believe that I owe everyone I come in contact with, my compassion and understanding.  I’m not going to get it right all the time, but I can try to live by the principle of putting myself in another’s shoes before I open my mouth.

I’m sure that needs to be an abiding way to live in all our interactions, with people (or animals).  I’m sure that doing so would avoid the literal, or figurative, picture I faced on my screen this morning.  It’s not just children and teenagers who can be bullies.  We do it so often ourselves as adults, without a thought.  Surely it’s time we thought first.

“I would rather be a little nobody, then to be a evil somebody.” 

―    Abraham Lincoln


Yesterday, I couldn’t take social media anymore, so I took a break.  Perhaps my poor state of physical health contributed, but I’d just had enough.  I made my post here, and then turned off my computer and phone.

Why?  Because what I was seeing was jokes at other people’s expense and  terrible stories of the physical and emotional suffering that a lot of people in our world are experiencing on a daily basis.  And people forgetting that there is another human being on the other end of that social media tool.  Someone who feels pain just like me.  Some people just attack others with no regard for another, and when I’ve seen too much of it, I know it’s time for a break.  I refuse to become part of that world.

Image courtesy of [image creator: M - Pics] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of [image creator: M – Pics] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We’ve all seen the three monkeys (yes, I know these are chimps), and maybe seen the internet-tailored one with four monkeys.  I wasn’t able to easily find a picture that I could legally use here, so you’ll have to settle for the words:

Monkeys SEE no evil

Monkeys HEAR no evil

Monkeys SPEAK no evil

Monkeys POST no evil

Wouldn’t it be great if social media were governed by such rules?  Am I spoiling the fun?  Maybe for some people, but for others we would be sparing the hurt.

Today, after my day off yesterday, I was greeted this morning with this, as the first post I read:

“We have lost over 40 kids to suicide since the beginning of this year!! When are we going to WAKE UP and do something about what we teach our children?? Why are we allowing violent and demeaning programming in our homes?? When are we going to get these kids some meaningful help??? MAKES ME SICK.”

That’s 40 teenagers lost to suicide, through apparent bullying, in 11 days.  No doubt the number has climbed since then, and more sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and friends and classmates have been lost.

I don’t have the details, but what I had in front of me was enough to put me off my breakfast, and because I knew that some of the bullying that would have taken place would have been in the form of cyber-bullying, I was again put off social media.  It was only a day ago that I wrote of social media being used to encourage teens to self harm ( see Like Bees To A Honey Pot).  It seems that every day I become more aware of the harm that is being done, and I hate it.

To find out some more I went searching for blogs about this topic and found one that distressed me further.  It was the list of ‘recent posts’ that got me.  We all have one on our blog, but not quite like this.  Each post listed was another teen known to the blogger who had committed suicide.  This blog is dedicated to making a stand about teen suicide by remembering each lost teen.  He says:

“Unless we really know the full impact, this crisis will continue to treated as a non-issue.”

This is about one part of the United States, but that made me think about how many more teen suicides there have been in the world in that 11 days.  Much of the reporting of teen suicides is very restricted and so it’s difficult, if impossible, to know the full extent but the one thing I know is that there is a lot of people hurting out there.

This is my point.  I know that there is a lot of good that comes from people working tirelessly, and usually unpaid, to support people through social media.  I also know that a lot of people (both young and old) feel less isolated because of the connections that they have through social media.  There is also a lot of good information sharing that goes on.  All these things are great.  But they get neutralized, in a way, by the harm that is generated through social media.

There has to be a better way than what we’re doing now.  We can’t afford to be losing teens (and adults) at the rate we are.  Maybe I’m being idealistic again, but society seems to have this idea that someone is free to say whatever they want on social media.  To hell with the consequences.  Society forgets that there are human beings, with real feelings, worries and insecurities on the other end of the computer screen.

My parents had that popular Christian saying of “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD) as something that guided them in what they said and did.  I know a lot of people still operate by that, and if that fits with your spiritual beliefs then that is great.  It doesn’t work for me personally, but what does work for me is:

What If It Was Me?

What if it was me on the other end of what I am about to post?  How would I feel to be on the receiving end of that?  If we truly answered that question, wouldn’t it change how we post?  I guess it is just another way of saying ‘treat others how you want to be treated yourself.’  It’s easy really.

You know I was really lucky.  The circumstances of my high schooling were such that I could have been in for a really hard time with bullying, but it never happened.  I was bullied briefly at primary school (because my Dad was the local preacher!) and I struggled with that for a while, but really I was lucky to get off lightly and to have the support around me when I needed it.

What I’m learning is that so many kids don’t have that support.  So many kids don’t have the love and the belief in themselves to get through it.  Social media is great in terms of the support so many groups and pages are giving, but I’m sure we can do better.  The good stuff is unfortunately not the stuff that social media is known for.  It’s the bad stuff that is what we hear about.

And don’t think this is just about teenagers.  It’s not.  Through social media a lot of adults get hurt too.  It can be blatant bullying but it can be as simple as the joke you post.  Maybe it’s funny to you, but what about for those whom it hurts?  Is it really necessary to have your laugh at the expense of someone else?  Again, what if it was you?

“Do you ever feel like breaking down?
Do you ever feel out of place?
Like somehow you just don’t belong
And no one understands you
Do you ever wanna run away?
Do you lock yourself in your room?
With the radio on turned up so loud
That no one hears you screaming

No you don’t know what it’s like
When nothing feels all right
You don’t know what it’s like
To be like me

To be hurt
To feel lost
To be left out in the dark
To be kicked when you’re down
To feel like you’ve been pushed around
To be on the edge of breaking down
And no one’s there to save you
No you don’t know what it’s like
Welcome to my life” 

―    Simple Plan

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Like Bees To A Honey Pot

CAUTION: This post contains discussion of self harm and may contain triggers for some people.  There are purposely no disturbing images contained in the post, but if self harm is an issue for you I recommend caution in reading.

Image courtesy of [image creator: Dan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of [image creator: Dan] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Sometimes when you have to compete with a chronic illness, there can be a delay in the process of the idea of a post to actually seeing it to the point of ‘publish’.  Thanks to fibromyalgia, this is the case, but it’s not always a bad thing.  It might mean that I am posting about an issue several days after the rest of the world, but at least it gives me time to think over what I want to say.  Meanwhile I guess I’ll never be ‘hot off the press’.

It doesn’t take much for some of us to be triggered by what we see and what we read.  A few days ago I got wind of the issue of Justin Bieber and self harm whirling frantically on social media.  First let me say that I never, in a million years, thought I’d be writing about Justin Bieber, but then it’s not really about him, is it?.

A few days ago a well-known website encouraged it’s viewers to self harm and send pictures of that self harm in ‘protest’ to news of Justin Bieber smoking marijuana.

“let’s start a cut yourself for bieber campaign. Tweet a bunch a pics of people cutting themselves and claim we did it because bieber was smoking weed.  See if we can get some little girls to cut themselves”

You can see a report of that (without images of self harm) here.  Social media went mad, and images of young people, either showing their dripping wounds or showing fake wounds, flew around with ridiculous abandon.

I saw some of the images on Twitter and Facebook and was very sad… and angry.  As well as the images, were the conversations that followed about people who self harm.  This is what I found the hardest to take.  Seemingly they are weak, attention seekers and from homes with poor parenting.

The problem with that is that it will have all been read by, not just Justin Bieber fans or people who know nothing of the harsh realities of self harm,  It will also have been read by those struggling, trying to recover from self harm.  They will all be like bees to a honey pot.

Often we know we would be better off to not look at something, but we do it anyway.  For me it’s images of self harm (it takes me back to my own past of self harming as a way to cope).  It is also images of people with anorexia (I don’t want to be that thin again but the reminder of the control I felt at the time is enticing).  Images of pumped bodies in gyms, remind me of the hours and hours I spent trying to tone my body to what I thought would be ideal, all the while damaging my body.

We know we would be better off not to go there, but we can’t help ourselves sometimes.  All the hashtags (which I’m purposely not including) which search the images freely for us.  We get there, and then we feel judged and very alone.  Just because the millions can search those images, does not mean they can, or even want to, understand the reality of self harm.

Self harm is not about sharing photos.  It is so easy to share a photo now days, all too easy, and we end up with this crazy, constant stream of triggering images of which no one has any control.  Self harm is also not some publicity stunt.

Self harm is a serious problem.  While it’s not about suicide, there are unfortunate occasions when self harm ends in death.  There are regularly serious consequences.

It’s really hard to beat self harm, for anyone.  It’s an addiction for many people, and was for me.  It takes years of battling urges and triggers, and finding effective ways that can distract you from the desire to harm.

It is a daily battle, even an hourly battle.  It’s not about attention usually, and certainly not about some celebrity.  If anything, sufferers try very hard to hide the scars of their harming.  Actually the trying to hide is what gives the secret away often.

If anyone thinks self harm is a joke, let them try to give up a serious addiction, probably with little help.  The people who are fighting to recover from self harm deserve our support, and our admiration for beating something so hard.  It takes guts to beat this thing, something of which most people have no understanding.

They don’t need ridicule.  Let’s give them our love, support and our acceptance.

“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.” 

―    Cheryl Rainfield,    Scars