Bullies: Virtual hiding in plain sight

The other day, I mentioned my love-hate relationship with the social media.  Just yesterday, I not so tongue-in-cheek suggested that the Internet is one of my lock down essentials. The social media have come to permeate every part of our lives and, in the main, especially now, it’s good.  And not good.

I did add, and I’ve often said, that my private accounts are “open” only to a select few.  Yes, I do have a number of “public” platforms – you can connect to them from my blog – but I rarely share really personal stuff there.  I suspect that I’m not alone in this.  What it does mean is that what you see – on those platforms – is not always what you get in real life.  That’s not to say that what I post is not genuine or authentic.  It is.

A heap on my stoep. Too pretty to sweep up.

There are some things that I simply choose not to share.  It’s a bit like dirty laundry:  not for public consumption.  I guess it’s a little like the difference between the level of intimacy between one’s business associates, co-workers and inner circle of family and friends.


In the 3D world, people are generally courteous.  One just is.  One greets and goes through the niceties.  In the context of Covid-19 and it’s rampage, the niceties become more than that.  I really do want to know how people are.   With social distancing that is difficult to do, in person.

However, this begs another question:  why is it that we so often lose our manners because we’re doing it via a big or little screen, over the inter web?

Social Media Groups

I have had the dubious pleasure of administering community Facebook groups.  One private and the other public.  I did it for nearly three years and the stress levels were, at times, off the chart.  I accepted the role when the person who started the groups was ill.  She subsequently be came even more ill, and given the value (so they told me) to the community, I took on the lead role.  Finding help was difficult and ultimately, I did relinquish it.  With enormous relief. It meant no more hours on end dealing with inane queries and private messages from members who simply didn’t tow the line.

I still bear the scars.

I am still and administrator on a WhatsApp group in the village.  It’s for alerts, not chats and has some simple guidelines.  As does the private Facebook group.

Because we all need pretty. And flowers.

Guidelines, rules and people

I’ve  long said that I’m a salmon.  I’ll happily go against the flow.  I’ve also been known to espouse the “rules-are-there-to-be-broken” maxim.  However, there does come a time when rules and guidelines are there for a purpose;  I get that.  I respect that and I do toe the line.  Similarly, in a groups of more than one hundred, to as many as a thousand members, one simply cannot presume to know everyone, or that everyone knows you.

As with all groups, there are the inevitable chatty ones, the outliers and the bullies. The outliers are generally the silent majority.  Chatty Pat (male or female) usually means well and is harmless.  The bullies, though, just seem to have no sense that there are other people in the group and that barbed comments make their way through cyberspace and into warm blooded, feeling human beings on the next screen.  I’ve been astounded at the tone (and language) in public private messages that are not only rude, but hurtful.

As I have written, this type of behaviour is pervasive.  An early lesson in my blogging career.

Because I can’t wait for spring.

When presumptions are truths

This brings me to the next point:  if one doesn’t agree with the individual or join his shindig, his comments suggest that one doesn’t have the interests of the group/village/cause at heart.  It’s a presumption;  there’s no engagement let alone concession that there might be a valid reason for the perceived apathy.

Do not presume to know my reasons.  Unless mind readers exist, and until science manages to facilitate brain trans-somethings between people and machines, you won’t know unless you ask me.  That is, again, the courteous thing to do.

Why can’t we all just get on? We aren’t birds of a feather. That’s ok.

Don’t bully play the person, play by the rules

It’s all too easy in a WhatsApp group to twist the rules and make up different ones.  It’s even easier to have a “go” at people when all you see is a number.  It’s a perfect recipe for antipathy and tension.  More to the point, it denudes the group.  Bombarded by pings, people flee the nuisance and the conflict with the added “benefit” of undermining the group’s purpose.  It’s the administrators, who happen to be very human, that take all the flak – in the group and in private messages.  With rarely, if ever, any acknowledgement, let alone appreciation.

Then people wonder why I’m happy to retreat to The Sandbag House and look at the mountains from my window.

This too will pass, I am certain.  This is a time we shan’t forget.  It’s a time in which care and compassion count.  For everyone.

Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post script

  • I’m participating in blogpal @tracyork’s April challenge of sharing a post every day during April – on the Hive blockchain. I succeeded last year – on Steemit from which the new blockchain “hived off”… and… it’s fortunate that today I had something to get off my chest!  And…
  • It seems a good way to constructively use the time during a compulsory lock down, right? For more about this initiative, please check out Traci’s post.

  • If you’d also like to both join the challenge and post from the WordPress platform to the Hive blockchain, sign up here.

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