Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Power of We

I signed up to be part of Blog Action Day which was yesterday but I was away and so I am writing my post today. 

As I was flying to Vancouver to visit two fantastic girlfriends for a "Power of We" weekend  up at Whistler, I watched a CBC news report about a young girl, Amanda Todd, who had taken her life because she couldn't stand the bullying she had endured for a number of years from groups of her peers. I say groups because the bullying followed her from one school to another and through the portals of Facebook. Even after her death, people are bullying her.

It broke my heart hearing the story but what broke my heart even more was that she felt so utterly alone, with no one to talk to, that she made the decision to kill herself rather than spend one more day facing the torture that had become her life.  Torture at the hands of people who obviously had nothing better to do than torment this young girl.

I know her parents were there for her and did what they could but no one else seemed to take her under their wing and say "We will protect you" or confronted these groups of kids and said "We will not let you do this for one more minute."  In this case, "The Power of We" didn't back up this young girl.  No one saw the struggle this child was enduring.

The problem is we live in a cyber world.  At the best of times, we spend most of of our day communicating with others through text, BBM, email, skype etc. but we don't actually spend time sitting down having a conversation where we can look in someones eyes and see their emotions.  It is easy to hide in this new cyber world and pretend to be something we aren't.  We can say and do things we might not do in a normal encounter with another person.  We can hide our loneliness, wipe our tears without anyone seeing us crying and we can hide our pain and frustration.

We can also be someone great, showcase our talents (real or fake) and invent new personas for ourselves.  Sneak peeks of our lives are shared in 140 characters or less on Twitter, photos of the fun we are having (real or fake) put into cleverly titled photo albums on Facebook and business connection are made via LinkedIn.

This world we have built ourselves on blogs and Facebook and other social medias has an element of falseness to it and it is a fertile ground for bullying to occur and it does.  In fact, it seems to be growing at an alarming rate. 

We spend so much time 'plugged in' we can easily feel alone because we don't interact one on one  basis like we used to.  Instead of calling to see how someone is doing you send a text or an email.

Obviously I'm a blogger and fervent user of Facebook and I know some of the things I post are to boost my own ego and make me feel like "I am someone".  I have posted photos showing how much fun we are having as a family (and mostly we are) but sometimes I post them because we are having a rough day and I need some encouragement from others to tell us we look happy.  I'm sure I am not alone in this.

Lately, I have been trying to spend more time one on one with people I love so we can laugh, cry, talk, and ((((hug))) in the flesh and it is refreshing.  I am trying to put my phone down, turn off my computer and spend chunks of time away from Facebook  and my blog and step back into reality.

How does the "Power of We" lend itself to what I am blogging about?  Here's the thing. 

What if we as a society said "We will not stand for the constant push to cocoon ourselves from the world for one more minute."

What if took back our "Power of We" and said "We will stand together instead of apart!".

What if we celebrated community, friendship, family - the old fashioned way by getting out of our houses and away from our devices and back into each other's life. 

What if we volunteered more, gave of ourselves more, and talked to strangers more?

What if we joined more team events, went to functions and had more fun together?

What if family time meant talking with words instead of fingertips on keyboard?

What would we see then?

People will argue they do all of this and more, I will argue - do you do it with your full attention and not with your phone, laptop, iPad attached to you?  I know I don't always. 

Bullying begets bullying.  Just as racism begets racism.  Somewhere along the lines, someone was taught by someone else they weren't worth anything, they were hit, they were spit on, they were treated as if they didn't matter. This person then turned their pain and frustration and put it onto another person and that person put it on to Amanda Todd.

If we stepped away from our portal connection to the Internet we might actually see people who are in pain, who are suffering, who need someone to tell them "you are loved, you are wanted, you are not alone."

 "The Power of We" gives us the power to tell children like Amanda "You are someone, and we need you too!"