Choosing Kindness: Why We Shouldn’t Minimize Online Bullying

After an unfortunate experience this evening, I was moved to write this tonight. Before I begin, I want to just say that I know nothing I do will change the world. I know plenty of wonderful people have written blogs like this before. I know that all we can do is control our own behavior, pray for our enemies, and do our best to move on. But that doesn’t mean I can’t speak my mind.

I haven’t talked about this here as it’s very personal, but I suffered from an eating disorder for a lot of my late twenties. Around 30, I realized I had a serious problem and took the first steps toward recovery. I continued my healing over the next couple of years, and now, at 33, I can say with confidence that this particular issue is resolved. I’ve been thinking about sharing the entire story here one day. It would open up a lot of old pain, but it could potentially help someone. And my particular eating disorder, orthorexia, seems to have a severe lack of awareness surrounding it.

Orthorexia is not “eating too healthy” as many people seem to believe. You can’t eat “too healthy.” That’s a contradictory statement. You can, however, become so focused on the quest for health that you end up lost in obsession. This obsession can take over every aspect of your life, heart, and soul. It’s not about diet. It’s about control. It happened to me, and it’s happening to many others, but that’s a topic for another time. All you guys need to know for this post is that I did have an eating disorder and that it was serious.

I saw a post on a forum about how doctors and therapists are now gaining an understanding of orthorexia and looking into providing effective treatment. This is a wonderful thing. But the comments on this thread were ignorant. There were multiple comments about how it’s impossible to eat “too healthy” and how this “disease” was likely invented by the owners of McDonalds. I like to spread awareness, and since this disorder is something I have personally battled, I felt compelled to share my story.

I was responded to almost immediately by someone who decided to tell me that I never had a disorder. I was simply a “moron” who didn’t know how to eat properly. The same person went on to tell me that my years of hard work in recovery meant nothing since the “desire to eat is natural” and all I did was “give into that natural desire.” Okay. This person clearly has no understanding of eating disorders. I can’t blame them for that. I can blame them for their choice to respond to a complete stranger in a cruel way.

I don’t think there’s any excuse for saying something mean to anyone, let alone a stranger. Let alone a stranger who has just shared a painful memory of suffering from an eating disorder. I already know what people are going to say. Haters gonna hate, right? Trolls will troll? Sure, these things are true, but that doesn’t make it okay. I don’t think we should shrug off bullying as “the way it is.”

People are entitled to their opinions, even if that opinion is as crazy as believing mental disorders are imaginary. I just wish everyone would work on being a little nicer to each other. I’m a strong person at a relatively good place in my life, but what about the person who happens to stumble upon that thread when trying to determine the nature of their own eating disorder? What about the person who’s debating suicide and falls victim to one of these bullying incidents at a bad moment? Don’t throw the “people are too sensitive” argument at me, either. It’s bullshit. A lot of people are sensitive. Perhaps too sensitive. A lot of people are also suffering from mental and emotional disorders, and we need to be aware of that. I know a lot of the people in my life suffer or have suffered with eating disorders of their own, depression, anxiety, PTSD, OCD, or a variety of other mental illnesses. People shouldn’t have to become cold inside to handle abuse from others in modern society. It’s fucking ridiculous. We’re all capable of being better than that.

Friends, I ask you to think about your words and actions, both online and in real life. Look for opportunities for kindness. If you notice people spreading misinformation about a disorder, drop some knowledge. Even something as simple as reaching out to someone who is getting bullied on a forum might save a life. You never know what someone is going through. We all have the chance to make an impact in this world, however small that impact might seem.

While I was writing this post, I went back to check on the article I mentioned, and it seems the bully thought better of it and deleted their posts. That makes me happy.

 

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2 thoughts on “Choosing Kindness: Why We Shouldn’t Minimize Online Bullying

  1. You’ve always “entered the marketplace with helping hands”. You are a brave woman. Unfortunately the community – the “marketplace” (in this case an online forum discussing eating disorders) – doesn’t really deserve the level of goodness inside you. I find it *almost* (if not entirely) too sacred a gift you hold. Yet you continue to help, and actually do reach the people that need help, inspiring them. I’ve felt that goodness, all of your close friends have felt it. You enter the fray, the harsh, brutish “marketplace” still, with the goal of possibly reaching and helping that ONE person that is there with you among the actual morons and idiots bullying you/him/her.
    You are brave. Someday I hope to know you have retired from the marketplace (after helping and having an impact) and living peacefully in a little cabin in the mountains.

    Namaste <3<3

    Like

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