Have you noticed lately how the word “bully” has been bandied about the internet? I feel like the term bully has been cropping up everywhere and I think a lot of times it’s being misused. I think bullying is a very serious topic and should not be taken lightly and thus, should not be overused or misused. Last week another mother/blogger (let’s call her “Astrid”) and her friends and family repeatedly called me a “bully.” It made me stop for a minute and take a hard look at myself. Am I bully? Do I bully people when I poke fun at them on my blog?
According to Merriam-Webster this is the definition:
Definition of BULLY
1: archaic a:sweetheart b: a fine chap
2: a blustering browbeating person; especially: one habitually cruel to others who are weakerb:pimp
3 : a hired ruffian
When I was called a bully, I think Astrid was referring to definition 2, because she and her friends and family sure didn’t treat me like they thought I was a “fine chap” and no one’s ever paid me to be a ruffian.
It all started when I wrote a piece about children’s birthday parties. I gave a few examples of parties that I thought were over the top and ridiculous. I commented on the clothes the kids were forced to wear, the party décor, and the overall themes of the parties.
Never once did I “browbeat” the parents who organized the parties. Never once did I say their children were ugly or abused or neglected or unloved. I never even called the parents names. I simply poked fun at their parties.
I found one of the parties on a fancy kid party blog. This blog features one-of-a-kind parties with descriptions of the parties and lots of gorgeous photos. There were so many to choose from, but Astrid’s really stood out, and it’s one of the ones I featured on my blog. Astrid, who organized this party (and I assume submitted it to the fancy kid party blog) got very upset that I brought attention (some negative and some positive — I have lots of overachieving moms with senses of humor who read and enjoy my blog as well as blogs like this) to her party.
She wrote a post on her own blog that linked to me and she encouraged her readers to sound off on the treatment she received in my post. OK. Not a big deal. I can handle criticism. I know that my brand of humor is not for everyone and that not everyone agrees with me. I can take some backlash. I get a lot of love from my readers, but to be honest, every time I post something there is always someone who will disagree with me.
What I didn’t expect was the rally cry that occurred in the comments section of her blog. Many of her friends and family rushed to her side and treated her as if I really had punched her in her throat. They wrote things like:
“Some people are just evil!!!” (Whoa. Three exclamation points. I think this woman just called me super evil.)
“My heart cries for you.” (Really? Calling her party foolish affected you that deeply?)
“Pure evil! Who would even think of a title like that unless they were extremely disturbed?” (If I posted pictures of myself actually punching people in the throat, then you could call me extremely disturbed. Talk about judging a book by its cover.)
And then the “b” word started popping up: “…reminiscent of a school yard bully,” “…bully tactics…,” “…foul mouthed bully…,” “Cyber-bulling plain and simple!”
I do think there was some bullying going on, but it wasn’t Astrid who was bullied. It was actually one of my readers who popped over and left her a reassuring comment and told her that she liked both of our blogs. The reader explained that she could see my humor, while at the same time appreciate the beauty Astrid created. Instead of welcoming her to the fold, Astrid and her readers attacked this new follower and suggested she might be contributing to the deterioration of our society. Whoa! Where did that come from?
The reader came back and defended herself saying how all she wanted to do was send a nice note and instead she was judged for reading my blog. Astrid then replied to her new follower that she obviously wastes her time reading a bully’s website.
I thought I was the bully here. This is how Astrid treats someone who took the time out of their bully website reading day to send her a simple note of encouragement? Who needs enemies when you have Astrid as your friend? Apparently, Astrid only sees black and white. Either you’re with me or you’re against me! Where is her sense of humor? Where is her ability to chuckle at herself and say, “Yeah, I threw a crazy party, but I loved every minute of it. It was far-fetched and over the top and I had so much fun. This is who I am and this is what I enjoy, but I can see why some people would find this humorous.” Motherhood is hard enough without mothers taking ourselves too seriously. We have to laugh. At ourselves and each other.
Instead of having a glass of wine and a giggle, Astrid unleashed her friends and family onto my blog. I’m not going to say I was bullied, because I’m a big girl who can take the commentary and the name calling. I will say, though their criticism was pretty cutting for a group who claimed to be distraught over the treatment they received. I was called “evil” a few more times, I was threatened with bodily harm, I was called “ugly” and I was told I “sucked” and I was “despised.” (At least I think that’s what they were telling me…the spelling was atrocious.)
OK. I heard what they said and I’ve taken a good long look at myself and what I write and here’s what I’ve come up with and how I see it:
I’m not a bully.
I’m a B.S. caller. I didn’t bully this woman. I didn’t even call her an idiot (as much as I want to now). All I said was her party was stupid. I said her party was laughable. I said her theme was horrifying. I did not violate her privacy by talking about her party. You can’t plan a party and put it on the internet have any expectation of privacy. I will find your superficial party and I will call your B.S.
The party Astrid planned was not for a baby. The party was for her. She submitted it to the fancy kid party blog and sat back and enjoyed the accolades. As soon as someone said her party was not perfect and was not genius, Astrid got a bee in her bonnet (which I think she might have worn at the party) and unleashed the Hounds of Hell on me who threw the “b” word around again and again so that she would look like a victim. How ironic that she accused me of bullying and yet her friends and family called me vile names and threatened me – much worse than what I said about her party. (Good thing I have an ego the size of Texas, otherwise they could have done some real damage.)
I’m not a bully. Save that word for when you really need it. Save it for when your child is repeatedly mocked by his peers. Save it for when your daughter gets threatening text messages. Save it for when your child is physically assaulted. Save it for when your child is continually demoralized by a teacher. You don’t use it when someone says your party is dumb. This is not First Grade. Even my First Grader knows that’s not bullying.
If anything, I’m the Equalizer. I speak for the moms who actually plan a first birthday party for a baby. We pick themes like Old MacDonald or Sesame Street, because we know that’s what our baby likes. We even bite the bullet and take our kids to Chuck E. Cheese, because we know our kids will have a blast while we cry in a corner and think about sticking forks in our eyes. We put our kids in cute birthday outfits, but not ones that they can’t move in. Our decorations are streamers and balloons and we serve cake, not petits fours and champagne. I’m not a bully, I’m just a mom who is sick and tired and irritated. I’m tired of the moms who plan asinine parties and then put them on the web and ask everyone to kiss their asses while they look down their noses at the parties the rest of us plan. I see your B.S. and I call you on it. I refuse to let you get away with it. If you don’t like what I have to say, then don’t put your crap out there where I can find it.
Be sure to read my daily rants at People I Want to Punch in the Throat where you’re sure to laugh and/or might be offended (it’s where you can find my R-rated rants).
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