Monday, April 30, 2012

Cyber-bullying In Melaland

Soapbox time. And I've got a healthy dose of attirude flowing. Uh-oh. Time to vent, preach, and have at it. Watch out. And guess what? This is directed at adults. Who ought to know better.

What am I up in arms about? We've got cyber-bullying happening in the melanoma community of two kinds. If there are other types of cyber-bullying going on, I haven't come across them yet.

Type one: is carried out by adults who claim to have melanoma themselves. The cases I'm aware of are all directed at stage 4 warriors who are actively fighting active disease. These men and women are truly in the fight for their very lives and should be getting respect, compassion, support, and prayers from those of us who also have melanoma. They don't need someone coming at them, usually on Facebook as this format lends itself to this type of behavior, and harassing them. Whether in private message or on their wall, these bullies torment warriors by telling them they don't have melanoma and are faking it. They are cruel and vicious in their attacks and can even try and make their attacks sound like "jokes." For some reason, bullies seem to gravitate to the warriors who are on grueling treatments and are already tired and sick. Like other types of bullies, these people look for the weakest and pick on them in an effort to make themselves look like big shots; like "some body." I wish I could explain their behavior in a way that makes sense. It's hard to "make sense" out of cruelty. They also claim to be "people of faith."

That's one reason I'm bringing my soapbox out of retirement. I'm a person of faith, who is stage 3b melanoma, and I get the privilege of being part of the lives of many warriors of all stages and that includes stage 4. I stand in awe of these men and women and I'll be damned if others are going to harass them to the point of driving them away from the support they need. This problem has got to be exposed and fought. Our stage 4 friends have got to know they've got friends and a community that supports them and will not tolerate the bullies among us.

Cyber-bullies in Melaland, you are on notice.

The second type of cyber-bullying I'm aware of is the type that comes when a warrior dies and their family mourns and shares on Facebook. They are entitled to their grief and entitled to express it as best suits them. If a person doesn't like what they share, feels they're too morbid or depressing...get off their friends list. Block their posts. Ignore them. They are entitled to share their pain on their own page! NO ONE is entitled to make comments that pull them down or belittle their pain. NO ONE is entitled to tell them "for their own good" that they need to get a grip. NO ONE is entitled to get nasty with them about their own posts. Again these people can often be "people of faith." They claim to be people who "care" and only have their grief-stricken friend's "best interests at heart". What they are accomplishing is intensifying pain and causing the mourner to question their own grief.

As a person of faith who's a pastor who is Hospice trained and pastoral-care trained who has stage 3b melanoma and a family who may one day grieve me...this type of cyber-bullying must stop. It's mean, unwarranted, and one day these bullies may find themselves in a similar situation and they will want some compassion not criticism.

Cyber-bullies in the melanoma community, I'm angry and this behavior will not be tolerated. I'm tired of reading posts by friends who have been recipients of bullying. People of faith don't act like this. People who really have melanoma themselves don't act like this against fellow warriors and/or their families. People of character and integrity don't act like this period. Especially towards people who are sick and fighting to live.

I write and admin both Melanoma Prayer Center and Melanoma Grief Chapel on Facebook. I choose to stand with my own and lift them up. Nobody better mess with them.

Because I am, also, a person of faith, I'm going to practice what I preach. I'm going to pray for those who engage in cyber-bullying and ask others to pray too. I ask others to expose the bullies among us and when you see bullying at work, take appropriate steps to stop it. Report them to Facebook. Send them a message to stop it. Stand with the person who has been attacked.

Warriors fighting to live and those who grieve shouldn't be driven away from Facebook or anywhere else. Those who bully them should.

Cyber-bullies, be on notice. And, remember, God is watching and I guarantee He's not pleased or laughing. Keep that in mind. Change your ways.

We'll all be grateful!