If you are a regular follower of my blog, you will note that this past week I was not nearly as regular with blog posts as I had been. And there is a reason. While I’ve been busy with work and family matters, that is not what affected me this week. No, permit me to tell you a story of what happened to me this week.
If you follow me on twitter (and also on my blog, you might notice it shows up), you will know that I am a Hallmark promoter, and this has led to meeting some of the most wonderful people ever on twitter. You might know that I am constantly tweeting about a certain actor from Cedar Cove–Sebastian Spence. He and his fans are a wonderful group, and the interactions amongst us all has been amazing. Little did I realize that what I would love so much would lead to something I could never have imagined–cyberbullying. And since this month is National Bullying Prevention month, I thought I would share a bit of my story. Bullying it not just something that happens to kids and teens. It can happen to anyone.
My story begins Tuesday night. I was tweeting with some of my friends, and I suddenly noticed a couple of really strange tweets appear on my feed. Within a few seconds, the user was suspended so I figured the worry was past. My friend and I begin sending direct messages about the user but all seemed well. It was a little after midnight, and I was preparing to go to bed with not a worry in my head.
Then the unthinkable happened. A user with the same picture as before popped up on my feed spouting off an incredible amount of spam. And she was tagging about four of my friends, Sebastian (the actor), and me. I immediately blocked her and reported her. Before long, my direct message box was overrun with messages from my friends as we tried to decide what to do. These tweets were absolute garbage. They called us out as bothering the actor, not being able to take care of our families, and so much more. I think there were easily thirty-some tweets before the night was over. Needless to say, bed was not on the horizon any time soon. I honestly felt helpless to know what to do.
I began to talk to my friends about possible solutions, and by this time the user had chosen to single me out by name as possibly not being a teacher, etc. Sebastian and I had discussed that earlier in the day, and this woman was definitely out for revenge. I had a suspicion that this woman had to be someone who knew me in the past couple months. There was a lady or two who wanted to spout off about how horrible Sebastian had been to them and all that. Of course, I wouldn’t do it. But then the idea occurred to me as I talked with one of my friends–contact the head of social media at Hallmark. Which I did with alacrity.
By the next morning (after four hours of sleep), I have to admit I didn’t feel a whole lot better. I felt like this woman had targeted me because she sensed some bond developing between Sebastian and me (just for the record, he has a bond with plenty of his fans). She continued to call me and the others out for wanting to hurt him and maybe even putting his life in danger. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I had contacted the head of social media of Hallmark and Sebastian himself. All that was left was to wait.
And that was the hard part. I reported this person over and over again. And I wondered what this would do to my online presence. Even my blog could be at stake if my followers read and believed her rant. But all through this, my twitter friends were just amazing. They continued to support me and talk me through everything. I think of one friend who had just gotten over being sick and she stayed up late and did all she could to help. Everyone told me to forget it, but I honestly couldn’t. I didn’t want anyone getting hurt because of me. That is what I feared.
In the end, Sebastian contacted me, and he and I worked to decide what to do about this person. And the next day when Hallmark legal department got a hold of it, this lady was history. You don’t know how vindicated I felt! While you can report people countless times, there is something about having a network backing you. Unfortunately, that is not true in every case. I think the most important thing to do is to not give up. If this lady had threatened anything against any of us, I was prepared to go to the police. Cyberbullying in any form is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.
In the end, what man intended for evil, God meant for good. I have bonded so closely with those involved that what this bully tried to do did not work out the way she would have liked. She didn’t get the attention that she craved. And although she may be able to set up another account, maybe she realizes that everyone is starting to catch onto her little game. Because no matter who she targets next, if it deals with Sebastian or any of my other friends, I am on it immediately!