A little story about the impact of Online Bullying. Help Save Lives.
A few years ago, during recovery from an accident – I set up a small internet business promoting pet services and products. It was a real learning curve. I did an online course and got myself building quite a comprehensive directory for pet amenities. I set up a Twitter account and off I went to work.
I am quite a bubbly person and I can chat with anyone, when I am left to it. So, I soon got new customers and I really looked after them. I believe taking it away from social media and to a phone conversation is the greatest selling point. This way we can really connect with the people.
There was another lady was also running a pet service directory. I discovered this when I started to get very awful emails saying I was copying her? I didn’t even know who she was etc. I did a bit of research then tried to involve myself by showing I had no bad intent. I even went into Leeds to buy samples of fabric to make her a pet bed that she didn’t want in the end. I offered her my number to speak with her to reassure her I had no bad intention. She seemed fine with me – despite not wanting to talk by phone. But I noticed the nastiness was still going on and I was baffled?
Eventually I closed down the pet services website, as for some reason it created all types of trouble, from the most unlikely of places. Perhaps it was a bit of jealousy, I don’t really know? Previously I had ran quite a large tangible business selling mannequins. I had never really used social media before. Relying solely on SEO and email marketing and then meetings in person.
There was a woman who has a pet boutique who decided to spread gossip about me, saying I was bullying the other woman with the pet directory. Not once did I enter into the conversation, get involved or comment. I was so embarrassed that I was being dragged into a saga so far removed from where my life was then? My son, myself and the pets all needed feeding. I’d lost my home and I wasn’t very well. But that’s the sort of thing you certainly do not shout about when you are trying to sell advertising space. It all became very small minded and clicky. I felt very alone. I began to hate life and became very depressed. I am not ambitious, I am passionate and I have to love what I am doing.
By this time, I had become consumed with animal welfare issues. I cannot help it. I am a born activist and socialist. I am true to my core values, preferring to speak in person. So, between the worry of this online gang of women sending me troll messages and emails. Wanting to save every animal and person in the world and not having any money due to the industry and how little people are prepared to pay. I closed it down and got away from the whole thing. I set up a small Twitter page and just campaigned for animals in the evening. I made new friends and loved it.
Years later, the woman with the pet boutique started to get involved with a cause I was a volunteer for and she did the same thing all over again. Gossiping, false accusations etc. Yet, all I had done was share her posts, encourage her support, write blogs for her and do as much as I could, putting the past behind me. I actually believed kindness had prevailed and things were fine. But sadly, despite this, it interweaved with a woman who writes books and lives with a comedian who also despise me. So, between the lot of them they kept the hate ongoing. It was like a bad rash that would not go away? It was my dad who said, “perhaps your giving ways make them see their flaws, Tiffany?”
I made so many videos for the cause, managed Twitter. Any opinions I had towards hate crimes I would address from my own accounts. I visited numerous rescues and events for the cause. I paid for all the equipment to do this and for the travel costs. I went all over the country for the cause. I built a blog. I took professional photographs. It became a full time job. I wanted nothing by return. Just to be respected as a volunteer – giving myself freely. I never got any thanks, but I did it for the animals. I had only them to thank for my recovery. I remember once being scolded for wearing a dress and not my tee-shirt. I think that’s about all the feedback I received.
I’ve been through so much worse though. And I look back and see how much more I have learned about business, social media and well, sheer nastiness. How to keep away from gossiping and jealousy. I have grown because of hate. But the one sad thing is, the animals. To try to push away volunteers who are often used as slaves to the organisations they do so much for is a sorry state. Many volunteers’ are suffering personal problems. It is doing something good and giving back that heals them. I was supporting many of them both on and off line. I wanted to give them a hand up as I was down there once and no-one came to help me.
Throughout all of the above situation I have asked the small group of women to speak with me face to face. Offering my phone number, contact details. To clear their darker thoughts and see that I am fine with my inner conscience. But not one of them would talk with me face to face. Even to this day, they hate me. And this is ‘social’ media. I beg to differ. It can also be a cowards paradise.
It’s all very childish but I wanted to share this story as I have heard some sad stories this morning from people I have spoken with on the phone who are being bullied. They think what they are going through is not worthy of representation. Well, it is. All forms of bullying are unacceptable. And it is true. Those who often seem strong and resilient are targeted more because they refuse to engage in the gossip. Stay strong. It really does happen to more of us than you know. Remember, your phones and laptops are just boxes, you can close the lid. But never feel alone or too afraid to talk about the way it makes you feel.
I have now set up a new small online business, alongside many other interests and hobbies. Yet, okay the traits are ongoing from the same group of critics. But it’s different now. I really don’t give a shit. Because I realise there is much more goodness out there than bad. I am thankful for my journey. It teaches me to grow and improve despite the niggles. I am never going to let another person make me unwell either physically or emotionally again. I am worth much more than that.
For Joyce. Please come for tea with me when you are better. No matter where in the UK I am – I will pick you up.