This is a difficult post to write – the most difficult one I’ve ever written, in fact. And my mouse is poised over the ‘Post’ button as I sit here thinking… You shouldn’t really have to share this kind of thing with the world, because ideally it shouldn’t happen. But, after much reflection, I can see it’s the only way of ensuring that I can get on with my life properly and put a particularly distressing episode behind me – an episode not of my own making, but one that is giving me sleepless nights, keeping me from Twitter and email, and – well – simply making my life miserable. The fact that this post has taken an entire day to write, and now totals over 5,000 words (I know – but please give it fifteen minutes, if you can), should give you a good idea of how much it has affected me.
It’s also a kind of liberation, a setting straight of the records and a chance for others to see that life doesn’t have to be the way it is, that bullies don’t win – and that you should treat people with respect whilst ensuring that they do the same to you. You shouldn’t have to put up with vile rumours being spread about you online or off – it’s not right. You know that, and so do I.
[ a note before I start ] If you are being bullied online, check out this page for legal information and advice: http://cyberbullying.us/blog/advice-for-adult-victims-of-cyberbullying.html . Also check the local laws in your country and the country of the person harassing you – you’ll surely have contacts or can ask someone for a suitable recommendation. Note also that it is illegal to harass, victimise, threaten, bully or blackmail people on Twitter, by email or any other electronic means. Tweets, emails, etc. which display this behaviour are just cause for launching a criminal investigation and can lead to criminal prosecution. If this is happening (or has happened) to you, you should seek legal advice. December 17th this year is Anti-Bullying Day – maybe you can help someone? And, having said that, here’s my story…
What would you do if you received a flurry of emails from someone, one of which said they hoped you had a massive stroke and then died slowly and painfully from terminal cancer whilst recovering in hospital? What if the same person tried to blackmail you into talking on the phone? What if the same person threatened to make your life a misery everywhere you go? What if that person defamed members of your family that they had never even met? And what if they were spreading malicious gossip about you to people they meet at conferences and events? What would you do? How would you feel? If you’re ready, here’s the punchline right at the beginning – and, before you go elswehere, can I just make entirely sure that you understand that this is real, not some kind of pastiche – this is happening to me, and it could equally happen to you one day.
My name’s Gavin and I’m being bullied online.
There, I said it – and at first glance it may seem a little humorous that a man in his mid-forties would claim such a thing, but that’s the plain truth of the matter. It might even seem a bit shameful to you, and you may be tempted to turn away now and go somewhere else for your news, but I urge you to read this because it may be useful to you at some point in your online life. And, if you read the article linked above, you’ll see I’m not alone. My apologies also to those of you who have been tempted over here because you’re expecting the usual diet of iPad, iPhone, SL and technology-related fare.
But, you see, this is serious. So serious that today I am on the verge of going to the police to have them investigate the following charges: stalking, cyberbullying, defamation of character and blackmail. I suspect I may have your attention now…
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