Shared this at a gathering about the cyberbullying/cyberstalking epidemic:
Know that I am a different woman today, a different Cyber Citizen than I was before my experience with virtual terrorism. I was stalked and publicly degraded. I was defamed and psychologically violated. I’m guarded, but still able to trust in others. My heart is a bit more hardened, but I still love. Yes, I've changed, and there is no escaping that. But I still believe in myself and in others. Though the bullies did not rob me of my fundamental values, I have been conditioned. When I think back before the incidents that have taken place to prompt this article, I visualize myself as a different person.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Today, I am stronger. Today, I am wiser. Being the victim of cyber-bullying has caused me to travel the bumpy road of self-discovery. During that journey, I reconfirmed that I am a person capable of unending empathy, love and kindness. I have been a bulls-eye for vile arrows released in my direction, yet I have prevailed. I now know for certain that I have strengths within me that lie dormant unless… and until I need them. This truth alone has brought me both comfort and courage to face an unknown future. And I will continue to believe in the waves of good in all seas, even the turbulent ones.
I was truly a naïve Cyber Citizen. I learned this following some unfortunate online events that changed forever my view of the world. Though I considered myself computer savvy, I was still ignorant of the dark routes the 21st Century Information Highway makes accessible to those who choose to transform much of the good the Internet has to offer, into evil. I had heard the terms cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying strewn about the news, but I hadn't taken enough time to learn about this growing epidemic, nor to fully empathize with its victims. It took becoming a victim to truly understand the fear this "virtual terrorism" has the potential to instill in one's psyche.
For those well-versed in Information Technology as well as those less informed, the Internet is a field where we are all potential prey in a virtual open season for the hunter, the cyber-bully In other words, it can happen to anyone. Whether we want to believe it or not, we live in an age where a misconstrued Internet post, an innocent incident in traffic, or a severed relationship can trigger a trail of incidents so personal, so invasive, so violating that you truly cannot fathom they can happen, until they do.
I am an inspirational writer, so I seek waves of good in every turbulent sea. I try to believe that everything has a purpose or a reason. I have searched for some positive takeaway from the fact that technology has become effective weaponry for the unstable, the paranoid and the vindictive. Perhaps one outcome will be that, founded in fear, we become a more civil society forced to live with the ever-present reality of possible repercussions from those who we may unintentionally in our hurried lives treat without the utmost kindness. But then again, cyber-bullies can manufacture unkindness in even the most harmless interactions, or often in no interaction at all, as my story illustrates. Of course, my optimistic vision is that we will come to grips with this 21st Century phenomenon, this battle against virtual incivility. In this vision, I view these events as obstacles we must encounter and overcome to eventually use the Internet as a way to connect via constructive dialogue founded upon respect.
Many years ago I wrote my most famous work to date, a poem titled “The Dash.” It’s a rhyming piece about that little line on a headstone and how it ultimately represents everything we have done and said during our lifetime. My experiences with cyber-bulling and cyber-stalking have compelled me to once again consider my own “dash” and my own mortality. In doing so, I affirmed my commitment to appreciate every day. I now pour more intensity into my written words because I believe more than ever, that we must live each day as if it were a lifetime in itself.
by Linda Ellis
Who are you to take from me
my smile, my peace of mind?
Who are you to survey me
from what you hide behind?
I try to analyze emotions:
Am I angry? Am I sad?
Am I just in mourning for
the carefree life I had?
Will the wounds from what you’ve done
heal themselves someday?
Will I remember how my life was lived
before I became your prey?
Am I ever to be whole again
or has completeness been forsaken?
Can I return to my life's puzzle
the missing piece you've taken?
For all the questions that I ask,
there is no good reply.
I know the where,
I'll NEVER understand