Dear Spark Guy Chris, Spark Administrators, and Spark Community,
Most of us have seen cyber bullying in the news. Typically it is mentioned in conjunction with a tragic result due to social media bullying in our young people. The stories tug at our heart strings and make us question how to protect our youth. The anonymity of social media is the perfect venue for someone to torment another individual. Comments that someone would never say in a face-to-face conversation, flow easily out of the fingertips.
Bullying, however, is not limited to young people. One report states that 40% of adults have either been bullied or have witnessed bullying of another adult on social media. Adult bullying, often times, is more sophisticated than that of children. Typically it is done in a way that just falls under the radar of social media guidelines. The results can be just as damaging.
I believe that overall Spark is a wonderful, safe program where individuals may connect with others that struggle with weight loss and healthy choices. It is a site where we can allow ourselves to be vulnerable while we work through issues. The typical Sparker has a sensitivity to other members that does not exist on other social media sites. The love and support that I receive from my Spark friends is a blessing in my life.
Many Sparkers, myself included, have experienced bullying in their life. Whether it occurred from peers as children, parents, spouses, coworkers, it has left a mark in our lives. Sadly, even with this wonderful community, some of my friends have experienced it right here on Spark. A place that should be a safe haven has become a source of pain.
Spark administrators are reluctant to get involved unless the oppressor is violating guidelines. I fully support that Spark has asked individuals to work it out amongst themselves if at all possible. Usually the person doesn’t even realize how they came across. Individuals in the situation may agree to stay off of each other’s pages as a solution. That does not always work. Some bullies enjoy the power and are clever enough to know where the line is and they know how to approach and not go over. The pain, frustration, and humiliation for the victim are still there. Sometimes resurfacing hurtful feelings that they thought were buried in the past.
After watching a clever bully torment a Spark friend on her blogs, and finding out that her tormentor had even sent her emails, I contacted Spark coaches. Their suggestion was to change her Spark page so that only friends could see her page. While yes, that will make it so the other individual may not make comments on her blogs, it also limits her ability to inspire others and make new friends. Those of us who write blogs enjoy that interaction.
Administrators, you have given us the ability to block individual users on our emails. I am respectfully bringing a request before you today to also give us the ability to block an individual, not the majority of the community, from seeing our Spark pages and blogs. Please help make this a safe place where we can take the power out of the bully’s hands by giving us the power to block an individual.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
***Spark Friends: I have never done this before, but ask that you hit “like” for this blog. I believe it is a topic that the Spark Community needs to be aware of, and a popular blog will get it out there. Also, if you have a Spark Administrator that you feel comfortable sending to, please do so.***
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE BEING BULLIED:
Do not believe what the bully says. Do not let them define you!!!
1. If it is someone you have had contact with before and they have generally been a good friend, they may have been having a bad day, or did not realize how their comment would come off sounding, especially in writing. Just ignore it or let them know you were hurt by their remark.
2. Depending on the circumstance, give the person the opportunity to explain. “I found your comment to be hurtful.” You do not need to get into a big back and forth discussion. Some groups will suggest ignoring it, because if the person really was trying to be a bully, they get satisfaction in the fact that they upset you.
3. If it has gone beyond the guidelines, or it is a repeat issue, report them. Every time.
4. Keep a cyber-trail. Do not report and then delete. Even if they did not go beyond guidelines, having multiple negative remarks documented can show a pattern to site administrators.
5. Use the tools available to block them.
IF SOMEONE ACCUSES YOU OF BEING A BULLY:
1. Are you? Be honest with yourself.
2. If you were not, sincerely apologize “I am sorry you felt that my comments were out of line. They were not meant that way at all.”
3. If you were, sincerely apologize. It is a step in the right direction. Then work on yourself.
4. Do not try to minimize by saying you were just kidding. If you were kidding, then your style is hurtful and you need to change it.
5. Once you have apologized, leave the person alone. Do not follow their blogs. Do not comment on their page. Do not try to get others to join your cause.
P.S. If you see on someone's blog a comment made by another member that appears to be bullying, I just found out that you can report their comment as inappropriate as well. I urge you to do that. I am positive that Spark Administrators would want us to report bullying.