One Parent’s Point of View

I wasn’t going to write a post in reaction to Richard’s involvement with Cybersmile and the things that he’s said in the interview, blog post, and tweets relating to it. I understood what he was saying and can appreciate the points he was trying to make, so although some fans were upset by his words, I wasn’t one of them. now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading the opposing blog posts and comments in regards to this subject and I think they all have merit, the issues they are bringing forth are sound and worth discussing; I just don’t think Richard was necessarily talking to us. we’re not why he’s doing this.

I have a 10 year old daughter–she’ll turn 11 this summer (a Leo, like Richard), so she’s one of the youngest in her upcoming 6th grade class. I think she’s the target audience for these talks, preteens/teenagers/young adults. they’re the ones who have not known a world that didn’t include social media in some form. they don’t write letters, send them in the mail, and wait weeks or months until they get a reply. they don’t depend on a physical Library to get their information from, some of them don’t have the benefit of family members who give them their undivided attention. the majority of them have social media in their hands, literally, from the time they wake up in the morning until they go to sleep at night. they don’t have the life experience to understand that kind of power. every knee-jerk reaction comes pouring out of their fingertips, for better and for worse, and spread over vast virtual areas.

I mentioned my daughter specifically (I have a 15 year old son as well but he already thinks he knows everything) because these issues have become very relevant to her, as of late. she experiences first hand how her peers lash out in anger, jealousy, and fear on a regular basis through text messages, saying horribly nasty and taunting things. then deleting those conversations later, pretending they didn’t happen with excuses of lighten up, I was only kidding, don’t be a cry baby. all of this from friends, not bullies, friends. the way she gets push-and-pulled emotionally, back and forth, is disheartening. she’s not completely innocent herself, she joins in because she knows no other way, that’s how children her age communicate. she knows it’s wrong in her heart because it makes her feel bad, both when it’s directed at her and when she directs it at someone else, but what other way is there? I think this is what Richard was trying to get across– the flip side– how sometimes we’re the bullies without realizing it. don’t react in anger, stop and think why you might be having the particular reaction you are having to someone’s words/actions, use your real picture/name to begin with so that it will automatically cause you to think twice about saying things that you might not be too proud of later, etc. 

I try to get my daughter to vent to me first, to give her a chance to think through how she feels before she hits reply, and plead with her to stop engaging– walk away, say what you need to say and then stop because it will be never ending if you don’t.  meanwhile my tongue is bleeding from how forcefully I’m biting it, wanting to tell her exactly what I think of these “friends” and what nasty mean girls they are, resisting the urge to grab that handheld reality show and go all Mama Bear with text replies of my own…but I don’t, because I’m the adult and I know what will follow will not help anything. I know because I lived through those kinds of friendships myself in my youth. I’m an adult who has life experience. an adult that knows how to pick my battles, who knows that her circle of friends/school is not the whole world. I know that not “everyone” is against me, that not “everyone” will believe the petty lies that might get told about me in revenge, that not “everyone” is making fun of me or whispering about me behind my back. she’s not an adult, she’s 10 years old. 

but when her Mom tells her that “the guy who plays Thorin” is addressing these very issues, she stops to listen. we talk about all of the things we’ve talked about many times before but if “that guy whose picture is on Mom’s keychain” is saying the same things, maybe those things will work. if it’s important to someone like him, a movie star who wears suits to walk down colored carpets and takes selfies in mirrored sunglasses, then maybe it’s happening in other places, to other kids, in other countries. just thinking about that may take away some of the weight she’s been giving it. 

If Richard waited until he knew all the ins and outs of social media himself before he spoke out about these issues, waited until he had answers to all the opposition, it would never get done. and my daughter may not have had the courage to stop engaging in one of those detrimental text conversations yesterday. she may not have realized that she has a choice, that the power rests with her. she may have done those things next week or next month because I would have kept talking with her about these things (and I’ll still need to, because learned behaviors don’t change overnight) but she would not have told me just this morning how much lighter she feels. she would not have ignored that particular friend’s nonsense and thus be looking forward to a stress-free (her words) weekend. 

Richard gave my daughter that just by attaching his name to something like this, just by giving one small interview and taking the time to write a blog post. other children, teens, young adults can benefit from these things he’s said as well and I sincerely hope they do.

It was never about us. 

It’s about them.

 

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42 thoughts on “One Parent’s Point of View

  1. Thank you very much for your post! I embrace every word of it. I believe that all Richard wants to do is to help others and I really don’t understand why some fans take it personally. I do think ‘it was never about us’.

    Liked by 4 people

    • it would be great to have a series of blog posts that breaks down what Cyber-Bullying is, all the different aspects of it, but I don’t think that is what Cybersmile is aiming for and I certainly don’t think that kind of in-depth analysis is what Richard signed up for either. sometimes simple is best, especially when dealing with kids. put the message out there to open the door for parents/teachers to broach the topic with the kids (and vice versa) so that then the discussion can get more in-depth in relation to their own individual situations 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • My son was bullied at public school but I found out about it only after he had finished it. His father died when he was only 12 and he didn’t want to worry me so he dealt with it by himself. That’s why I think what Richard and Sybersmile are doing – even in a simple way – is very important. Thank you again!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think that happens a lot, the kids don’t want to worry anyone or they’re embarrassed that it’s happening in the first place. with my daughter it’s just friends being nasty to each other, which is something I went through as well (though not until High School) but one of the problems is that “Bully” is subjective. when it’s physical, you know you need to step in, but when it’s just words– that line is harder to see.

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  2. I think you make a great point here, that not everyone engaging in harmful online behavior is necessarily a hard core, recidivistic cyberbully. Sometimes hurtful activities may start between “friends” as a silly argument that spirals out of control and becomes more painful the longer they lob texts or tweets or fb comments back and forth… and if that was his intended audience (the kid who’s feeling bad about online interactions but may not be squeaky clean in their own record) then his advice to think twice before hitting send, or don’t engage, or find a different outlet, is spot on. Great post, Kelly!

    Liked by 6 people

    • I think the more adult issues can certainly be addressed amongst ourselves in relation to what Richard’s words have brought forth, but I don’t think our displeasure at the current state of affairs should be aimed at him. maybe we should look at why we had such strong reactions to what he said–and the fact that it came from him. these issues certainly bleed into each other, but I think they’re separate from the broader ones aimed at the younger generations.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Re “maybe we should look at why we had such strong reactions to what he said–and the fact that it came from him. these issues certainly bleed into each other, but I think they’re separate from the broader ones aimed at the younger generations.”

        I think you hit the nail on the head here, Kelly. I have seen a great deal of internalization in other blogs/twitter/comments, that may or may not be necessary. The bigger picture in what is happening to the children in the online world is where the website is at and clearly targeting. (At least clear to me.) The website provides information and tools and encourages community in spreading positivity. Although anyone can certainly benefit from that, that structure appears to target kids in engagement. Richard’s open letter touched on things Cybersmile addresses/encourages – not engaging with retaliation, sharing positive things to pursue when upset, hurt or angry through artist ways, listening to uplifting music. And hopefully it is just a start for him and we will see more like-shares. Especially for the sake of folks just like your daughter.

        Liked by 9 people

    • my protective instinct agrees with you but really, does he deserve me or you either? maybe his words just need to settle with those who can’t see the good in them right now, and maybe those in opposition will say things that get him to think and come around to a different understanding as well. I think if we’re respectful with our differing views then good can come of all of it, in one way or another. meet people where they are 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Cill says:

        No, I’m not sure what he’s done to deserve my special brand of fanning 😉
        Otoh, after being away from the comment for a while, I wished that I could edit and change ‘pick it apart’ to ‘tear everything he says apart’. It’s a more violent image that fits with the constant attack mode that certain people are in.

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        • we lash out in fear, and so I think some of this has to do with us not wanting to look at ourselves, fearing that Richard could’ve been talking about us. a fear that what we’re doing is wrong in some way and that b/c of that, it will change and be taken away. so many of us need this fandom world that we’ve helped create and are a part of, it helps us cope with whatever is going on in other areas of our life. so if we feel it’s being threatened in any way, we get very defensive.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Cill says:

            If someone needs something, perhaps they should think twice about destroying it.
            However I think that fandom applies and oranges are being mixed in discussions about the issue.
            Some who are bullying in the fandom don’t seem to want any part of it but the part that supports a particular limited fantasy. They seek out and troll people who aren’t confronting them and maybe even haven’t any idea they exist or who they are (and the cowards comment anonymously so the victims aren’t likely to be able to name them). These aren’t disputes between friends or even acquaintances. This is the very definition of cyberbullying.
            Also I don’t think that bullies necessarily lash out because they’re threatened. Studies say that they act out of a desire for power, and the enjoyment of other’s pain.

            Liked by 1 person

          • what you see as “destroying” they may see as “fighting for”, which is why I said in a diff’t comment that bullying is subjective. there is certainly more than one type of bully and there is no doubt that we do have classic bullies in this fandom, the ones who taunt for taunting’s sake. but we also have a lot of fans who are just confused right now. confused about their differing opinions with Richard and what that means, if it should mean anything. they are going to voice their concerns as they try to work through how they feel, and as Richard has said that he likes to view differing opinions, the ones who feel passionately about their opposing views should not feel guilty for that. I just don’t think we need to chastise each other in order to get our points across, and that means not chastising Richard for trying to do some good in whatever limited way that he can 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • Cill says:

            There’s a quote from Elizabethtown that is applicable, about deciding that some “things maybe really are black and white”. Anonymous hate messages are one of them. They’re never good, and never done for a good reason.
            (Blame the quote on my OB friends for making me watch that movie more than once).

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    • more the idea that there’s more to Cyber-Bullying than just being nice to each other. some fans think his words were too idealistic, his definitions too vague, or that he was chastising them directly in some way. idealistic is my middle name though, so I was all for it–I just realized that if my middle name was actually idealistic, then my initials would spell “kid”, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some things don’t change. Kids still believe popular movie stars and rock stars are smarter than their parents. But, if Richard’s words work, Amen. I always thought he was trying to reach young kids who live and breathe social media; don’t participate in hurtful behavior; or, if you’re the bullied, life gets better. I also think of some hurtful things I’ve seen so-called adults post. Is that what they teach their children? I suppose the days are gone when a parent takes a phone away from their misbehaving kids, limits their computer use to homework, grounds them, or something to say there are consequences. When did owning media devices become a “right”?
    So now it’s up to screen and music idols to send a message. Let’s hope they deserve to be admired.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cill says:

      One of my friends with a better grasp of modern history said to me that it’s always been up to celebrities to send a message, at least since the mid-19th century.
      The pressure to send a positive message or at least to advocate for something good has increased and declined over that time. The definition of ‘positive’ and ‘good’ are of course not universal, with the result that (to paraphrase RAFrenzy on fandom bullying) one person’s hero is another person’s villain.

      Liked by 1 person

    • my kids don’t have cell phones; we’re the meanest parents ever 😛 I understand that a lot of children these days are “latchkey kids” and so having that cell phone makes sense, my kids aren’t latchkey kids though so what do they need a cell phone for? they both have Ipods and that’s enough of a headache! my son is much more active in sports now and going diff’t places with his friends so he has a hand-me-down phone that he carries with him so that he can call or text to let us know he’s going to be late or whatever. it doesn’t have data on it though– neither does mine. we’re “so old fashioned” 😀 (we just upgraded him to a touchscreen. he was using a flip phone before–the horror!! LOL!)

      Liked by 3 people

      • Cill says:

        Some people give their children really basic cellphones so that they can call their parents or emergency services. (Basically for the same things that they give the children’s grandparents cellphones as gifts).
        The phones usually have some kind of parental lock on them.

        Two of my cousin’s children showed the usefulness of having cellphones when one of them got lost on a family trip. He texted his brother, who looked up his location on a map and gave him directions back to his family. One of my other cousins is chronically late and so is her husband. In bad weather she can tell her kids whether or not to wait indoors or out. (They don’t live in a warm climate, so this *is* important)

        I think that this is what I would use it for, always. Whenever I am standing on a cold streetcorner waiting for someone (or some bus) that’s 20 minutes late, I wish I had one too.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your poor son LOL. I myself always had a basic flip phone (to avoid butt dialing) and never activated any data features. But as of January, I’ve joined the 21st century with a smarter-than-I -am Samsung Galaxy. Why? Because I was at a concert and my friend was posting pictures to FB and I envied that. So I have an expensive camera that fits more easily in my purse. And now *horrors* I find myself checking FB when waiting for an extremely long red light to change…either that or I’m alarming other drivers when they see me screaming thru the windshield. But the main purpose is still to check in with whomever I am meeting. As a single woman living alone, I want my friends and family to worry if I’m not where I should be at an appropriate time. That’s all children need really; the ability to check in with their parents. I guess that beats what my Dad did while I was growing up. He’d stand outside and blow on this huge cow horn that could be heard blocks away. Someone would come into whatever house I was in and tell me to call home. Nowadays someone would probably complain about the noise, but it sure got the required response.

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        • my husband carries around his camera that has Android capabilities anytime we go for daytrips or whatever and it is very convenient to have internet access like that (and to be able to post your pics directly to Facebook!) but I lead a very small life so I don’t really need that (seriously, I pretty much stay within a five mile radius of my house).
          when I was young my mom used to open the door & just yell for us to come home–we lived in a small valley, up on a hill, so it would echo down through the whole valley!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. mujertropical says:

    Amen! I’m very grateful for your post because in my (former) job as a teacher, I saw the damage created by the anonymity of social media and the instant negative peer pressure my students faced every day because of it. Everyone has a need to be accepted by at least one person, just the way they are (whether their pride allows them to admit it or not).

    Contrary to what Simon and Garfunkel sang, we are not islands. We can choose to build each other up or tear each other down. Children and teenagers need our help, our guidance. I truly believe that is Richard’s goal with this new partnership. He knows that The Hobbit introduced him to a younger audience and if their love for Thorin can get them to listen; he darn well will use that opportunity to bring counsel and solace to the bullied.

    Why some of his well-wishers took it as anything else is beyond me. Not everything he does is about us. Life is hard enough without engaging in attacks against a lovely man who is trying to make a positive difference!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Chrissy says:

    Thanks for your comments. I think often – the problem with the “written word on line” is that you can’t see the facial expressions of the person who wrote them. Sometimes words might seem angry but may have been meant as dry humor. This is why we need to be careful about what we write – and I think that is one of the points Richard was trying to make.

    Liked by 2 people

    • definitely! I’ve done it here myself many a time, made what I thought was a simple observation and somehow it takes off and has a life of it’s own. so that I have to backpeddle a bit, explain more in depth what I meant, etc. I love dry humor but it can be dangerous: I’ve seen so often online when others use sarcasm to insult people without them realizing it, and then they laugh behind their backs. when called on it though they revert back to the behavior I mentioned in the post “I was only kidding/ chill out/ you’re so sensitive”. it never goes away :/

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  6. Thank you Kelly for your comments. I could not say more than this and thank you to you “mujertropical” for your sentence I would like to comment “Life is hard enough without engaging in attacks against a lovely man who is trying to make a positive difference”. And it is exactly what he is doing, trying to do something positive using that fact that now he is well known all around the world, and even if his words are just drops of kindness in an ocean of negative water we, as his well-wishers, just have to be proud of him and support him as we are doing for each of his project. Even if, sometimes, there are existing some contradictions in his sentences, it is may be due to the fact that he is speaking more with his heart than with his brain. Don’t misunderstanding me, I am not saying here that he is stupid but just that he lets himself be guided by his emotions (as the children are doing). He is not reading texts written for him by other people like, often,our politicals are doing and that makes him for me such a “unique” being human who deserves to be loved. You know it’s so easy to criticize and then replying that it’s only humor. But with so different cultures and languages and religions, humor sometimes can hurts and be received as a slap. To make an end to these comments I would say that what RA is doing now for the Cyberbullying message is more or less what he was trying to do last summer with the Ice Bucking Challenge. What was important was the message and not how many ice cubes there were in the bucket !

    Liked by 1 person

    • we always think we can do it better ourselves and everybody’s a critic–the prerequisites of online life. it would be so helpful if there was a manual so we didn’t have to learn these things the hard way! he’s out there doing it though, so who am I to say it’s not enough? as commenters and as bloggers we know how difficult it can be to put yourself out there, to share personal parts of yourself. knowing what a private person Richard is can you imagine how hard it probably was for him to admit that he was bullied and that it had a lasting negative effect on him? he put himself out there, not for himself but for others. I can’t criticize that.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thank you for this post! My niece was in the same situation, she was bullied when she was 9 years old. From her “bloved” friends at school. The teacher has unfortunately ignored the situation. My sister tried to talk to the parents of the girls. “My child does not do this” was their response. It hasn´t changed until she left the school. 🙂

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    • my daughter was taking screen-caps of her text conversations the other day. that hit me hard, that she would think to do that. we had a talk about not using them in retaliation or as threats but just to save for her own protection. the innocence of childhood.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. barcardivodka says:

    I have read a lot of blogs concerning Richard’s words these last few days. Some criticise the writing style and grammar, others are incredibly critical, over-analysed and incensed over his words, while others are very positive and laid back over the whole thing.

    This is the only blog I have seen that shows that Richard’s ambassadorship with Cybersmile is a success.

    That a mother has used his association with anti-bullying and helped her daughter take that first very small step to understanding and coping with the pitfalls of social media.

    Whatever Richard said, how he said it, what he really meant or what colour socks he was wearing when he wrote it pale into comparison against the knowledge that it is helping.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. That is what i felt the purpose of the organisation was and his involvement with it. I guess it was his own personal experience that prompted him to action, to maybe try and help kids who are going through what he went through. If it helps even 1 child (and sounds like it did 😉 and maybe helps a parent help their child too :-)) then it was worth it. It was the gist of it for me and what i was hoping for from this. And if he prompts discussion on related important topics like anonymity or the impact of arts in the development of young minds too, than that is an added bonus/positive impact. But for me the first point is the priority.

    Liked by 1 person

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