Monday, 5 August 2013
As a kid, I was never allowed to watch Bambi; my parents knew that it would lead to days of hysteria, endless sleepless nights and a hundred and one questions. I've still never watched it, purely out of fear that these things will happen, this time without the safety of my parents bed and a nightlight to help send me back to sleep.
But, despite never seeing the film, Bambi has actually taught me one of the most important lessons I've ever learnt: "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all".
As a rule of thumb, if I have only negative comments to make, I try not to turn them into utterances. Sure, every so often, I slip up and I say something I end up regretting for the next 24 hours but usually, you'll only find nice words coming from my lips. I LOVE sarcasm but would never use it to purposely make somebody feel bad. I just find it easier to compliment people then to insult them, regardless of whether I mean it or not.
Unfortunately, some people tend to favour the insults rather than the compliments and I'm struggling to get my head around this.
Whether they do it to be purposely nasty or because they've placed themselves in an uncomfortable situation, people who say things venomously really do get my back up.
It's bullying, it's in most obvious form, and although some comments are meant with jest, I honestly do believe that it's easier, and a bloody lot nicer, to just keep your mouth closed.
A lot of the time, people don't even think before they make a comment; I'm one of those annoying people without a filter between my brain and mouth but even I know hurtful comments do nothing but cause upset. When I dyed my hair orange, the amount of abuse I got in the street was ridiculous. But it came from strangers, from people who didn't, and shouldn't, care about the after effect of their words. They get to go home, watch Jeremy Kyle, and forget about how their comments made me feel and good for them. The only reason they're going to address their comment is if they're evaluating how to become a nicer person - I'm the least of their worries. But when supposed friends make nasty comments, that's what gets me.
They should know how rude it is to pass comment on something such as weight, sexuality, career choice, what you had for dinner. But again, I'm shocked to see that very few people think about the consequences before they open their mouth - even when they know the person they're talking too.
At a wedding yesterday, I felt reasonably good about myself. I haven't had an excuse to dress up, wear heels and apply my eyeliner until it reached my hairline for a really long time; it felt good putting effort into how I looked and as strangers started complimenting me, I began to get a buzz. And then the comments came.
Again, regardless of whether the comments are made in jest, I think people really need to address how their words effect others. Somebody made a comment about my hair reminding them of Ariel, from The Little Mermaid. "I think you look more like the Sea Witch in that film" came a response. Cool.
At first, little jokes like this used to make me laugh but the situation in how it was said, did nothing but get my back up.
Then came the comments about weight. I've suffered with my weight since I was 13 and I'm now in a position to say I'm comfortable with how I look; okay, so I have an issue with my arms and I really hate my thighs and hips but FINALLY, the thought of somebody seeing me naked in the light doesn't make me feel as sick as it used too. But none of this matters because all it takes is one comment from one person to knock me back into that place again. Oh, and there it was "I might become bulimic for an hour, see how much food I can fit in." - sure, a sweeping statement to many, but for me, that was like a dagger through my stretch-marked stomach.
The entire day, not one single nice comment came from this person's mouth. When speaking to me, most words were laced with malice and spite, all for no particular reason. I hadn't been nasty to them or uttered a single word aimed to insult them.
It's just amazing how one person's negative actions/words can totally ruin the precedent of a day. Weddings are supposed to be a celebration of love, documented with beautiful photographs and with amazing memories. Instead, I'm flicking through Facebook photos scrutinising my make-up and wondering whether or not I share any resemblance to Ursula, the Sea Witch.
Although rather selfishly I've focused on myself throughout this, it seems that the negativity has spread worldwide.
Recently, Twitter has been like a playground for cyber abuse with strangers sending other people threats, of rape and murder, when all they should be doing is enjoying their lunch break. When did a social media platform become so negative? I signed up four years ago to keep up to date with my friends - two years ago, something clicked and I realised I could be using it to showcase my blog and to connect with people in positions that would help me. I've met many of my heroes, and some of my best friends, through Twitter and have never even thought to bombard somebody with horrible Tweets or to abuse somebody simply because they're in the public eye. This sort of behavior is so foreign to me, that I'm still genuinely shocked when I see it happening.
Caitlin Moran wrote an explanation on the reasoning behind the #twittersilence she arranged; an organised Twitter silence to alert the higher powers of Twitter that if something wasn't done to step up how abuse, and abusers, is treated then Tweeters would just find a new platform. Shockingly, this led to even more abuse from those who thought the #twittersilence was giving into the bullies. A simple act of solidarity didn't even need to be explained but the sheer naivety, and nastiness, of some people means that we're now living in a world where even positive actions are having to be explained.
Why can we not just be NICE?
There's really need for all of this negativity; why do we purposely try to make people feel like shit? Why do we even think our words matter enough for us to speak them?
Social media, although this cannot be blamed entirely, has given every single person out there a voice, and whilst that's brilliant in some aspects, people seem to think that suddenly, it's okay to use this voice to cause trouble. I see it everywhere: YouTube video comments, blog posts, Twitter, Facebook...there's so many platforms for people to shout from. It's a horrible world we live in when you're scared of Tweeting something, just in case a stranger seems to think it's okay to pass a negative comment.
I can only share my opinions but I am going to make it my mission to say at least one lovely thing per day. In fact, make that five. Whether it be a nice comment on a Facebook photo, an e-mail fan-girling to my writing hero or a Tweet, spreading love towards somebody having a bad day, I'm going to make certain that my social media platforms are radiating nothing but positivity, love and kindness. In fact, when I eventually have kids, I'm only to deter them from getting Twitter accounts (or whichever 'cool' social media platform they're using) and force them to watch Bambi instead.
I think we can all learn a lot from Thumper's words...