In a world of hashtags, likes, comments, views… how can we work together to get more cyber-love trending for everyone?

There were a few times I decided to take a social media break for my own mental health.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely enjoy social media and find it a great way to stay connected, build connections and find some inspiration, but it can also be taxing to your emotional health if you allow it to consume you.  Even worse when you get personally attacked by what I like to call, cyber trolls.

I truly believe no matter who you are, whether you say you’re are thick-skinned or un-fazed by social status or stature, every one feels a little pinch of eminence and gratification when they post something online and get a like or comment.  It’s only in our human nature to.  And that’s a good thing.  You obviously wanted to post something that meant enough to share with your audience and social circles and it would be a bit disheartening to not get any love or acknowledgment, right?  But with the power of technology, a smartphone in almost everyone’s hand, being socially responsible starts with you.  

As a mother, I find myself trying my best to instil kindness and compassion in my children; to teach them to be good humans and how to protect themselves, both offline and online (or to be Telus Wise!)!  I have written quite a few posts around cyberbullying, for children and adults alike but one thing I neglected to mention was that cyberbullying isn’t always quite distinct and we may just be doing it ourselves without realizing it.  Yikes, right?

I’m all for candor and free speech, and now with the internet, we often feel we have every right to say whatever we feel we can, with no filters.  I grew up in an old-school Asian family so no filter opinions are something I’m quite use to (ha!) but it’s never fun. More-so from random strangers.  And it’s never okay.

Recently I saw an Instagram post of a beautiful lady dressed and modelling in her absolutely stunning lingerie.  She was inspiring as she was on a weightless journey that resulted in her being at her goal weight. She had scars and stretch marks on her body and proudly displayed them.  Amazingly, the photographer didn’t care to photoshop much of it.  The comments and likes on that post were filled with accolades, most of which were women.  

Now here is where the issue is.  Scrolling down my timeline, yet another similar post of a stunning woman in her bikini on vacation.  Smiling, happy, enjoying life and the image of “perfection” in the public eye – no stretch marks, toned, tanned, perfect hair and makeup.  Reading through the positive comments, I noticed the majority being from the opposite gender, and a very, very small percentage from fellow women. There were also quite a few very negative comments from women claiming she photoshops or “Facetune’s” her images or criticizing her choice of beachwear.

Really? So what if she photoshops or “smooths” out a bit.  What if she doesn’t though?  You see, we just don’t know.  But the problem here isn’t whether or not she photoshops or fake tans or wears hair extensions, the problem is that she was automatically judged from her female counterparts and received less love and acclamation than another that may a bit more “relatable” (if that makes sense).  My six-year-old can see how this is not right.  And you know what, we do this a lot.  Don’t lie, you do. I have in the past. Maybe not drop a hater comment but scrolled past with a slightly annoyed look because:

“How does she look so perfect all the time?”

“Oh, she’s travelling again?” 

“I just never agree with anything she posts. I can’t relate.”

“She’s a mother – how does she find the time? I’m lucky enough to find time to take an un-interrupted shower.”

Yet, so quick to hit the like button and ALL the happy and Hallelujah emoji’s to frazzled-looking mother’s proclaiming their frazzled-ness or perfectly-manicured hands holding up bedazzled tumblers in front of a perfect Christmas tree?  

One may read this and think the focus here is purely based on a woman’s exterior façade, materialistic or completely redundant to more significant worldly issues but these are fragments of societal hurdles, particularly for women.
And they can create bigger setbacks.

Call me crazy, but there is still a big problem within our very powerful circle of womanhood.  And in this digital age, these inner issues or insecurities, transcends through an unintentional comment (for some, even intentional) or just by plain blocking out a fellow woman entirely (despite the fact you follow her on social media) by choosing not to like anything she posts.  

Cyberbullying does not always look like bullying.  Especially with adults.  It’s being ignorant, subjective, smart-alecky and cheeky, unresponsive and detached.  

I read a quote recently that hit me hard.

 “Treat every woman like she is your sister.”

Essentially there are three main reasons women can be (often unintentionally) hasty towards other women:

• Because they project their unwanted parts onto the other women (especially their fear, envy, jealousy, suspicion, resentment, rage, anxiety or lack of self esteem & confidence) 

• Because they can get away with it (as a sport, fun, panacea to boredom, delight in spite, and their lack of curiosity/tolerance of difference suggests they probably don’t like people anyway) – this is more evident behind a screen!

• Because they don’t have the interpersonal and intrapersonal communication skills to recognize or alter their behavior. 

Reading an article on Psychology Today, according to a study, women may be more sensitive than men to social exclusion, and when they feel threatened by the prospect of being left out, a woman’s first response may be to socially exclude a third party. Again, for any woman who’s been on the receiving end of a female bully, this will come as no surprise.

Women can often be each other’s worst critics. We judge each other on our decision to work or not to work, our clothes, our weight, our parenting or our level of success. These biases can be subtle, or not so subtle, in what we think and say—and they perpetuate the cultural bias that we simultaneously want to change.

Women are always being pitted against each other wherever we look. The media doesn’t help much, in fact they often build walls instead of bridges. Why can’t women act like men do with their friends and be each other’s “wingman”?  Instead, we feel like there is an unannounced competition and somehow every woman is trying to take our place as a wife, mother, boss or friend. 

Every little bit helps so by just setting an example to your children, a social example for others, you can be the change that helps bring women closer together.

Have you taken the Telus Wise Digital Pledge to #EndBullying?

For every Pledge taken, TELUS will give $1 to support #EndBullying programs across Canada.  They’re not too far from their goal — Help them reach their goal of 1 million by taking the Pledge today.

Progress is needed in our society and culture. Progress is also needed in how we view each other and in the choices we make.

How did you make a fellow woman feel good today?  Do share and let’s spread the cyber-love!

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Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post as a Telus_Partner; however all opinions expressed are entirely those of the author.

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