Why Do People Have to Be So Mean?

Why do people have to be so mean?” my daughter asked. I’ve heard that phrase a lot from her lately. Being a teenager can be difficult. You’re trying to figure out who you are and her peers apparently have no problem letting her know who she is- by their actions and their words in not so kind ways. Thankfully, she has some wonderfully supportive friends to balance out the meanness. But that’s not why I’m writing this article. I was struck by some negative comments that were made about someone I really like on the Internet. My daughter was, too.

Trolls can be so cruel. By trolls, I mean the people who write particularly mean things on the Internet- not the cartoon or toy trolls. Their comments tell me so much more about who they are than they ever could about the person they’re saying things about. These trolls, they’re hurting. And they’re going to strike, like a snake, at some of the easiest targets.

The Internet is an easy tool to use to lash out. You can be anonymous, ridiculous, and sometimes even, others join in the negativity. Let’s face it: There have always been people who are mean. They’re just more prominent now with the Internet. Which brings me to this week’s post…

It’s hard to be a girl and woman in this day-and-age. With the media in general, you’re bombarded by “perfect” women all the time. We see the “perfect” body, face, clothes, and life. I know a lot of it is fake or photo-shopped, however for many, it doesn’t matter. They see it, they start comparing. And, oh, it’s not good… 

self growthHow can one compete? By turning inward and berating and comparing yourself to these perceived perfect standards. It’s a no win situation. You have to feel strong enough in who you are to not be bothered by all of the unrealistic images and opinions out there. You have to feel strong enough to remind yourself “I am enough.” Self-esteem and confidence is a huge issue now- and it’s no wonder! It’s being eroded by comparison. 

So, a couple weeks ago, my youngest daughter and I decided on a whim to do a video workout together. I’m a runner, but the weather was icy so we wanted to do something inside that was fun and still got us working up a sweat. We searched on YouTube for something quick and that didn’t require using weights. Aha! Blogilates came up in our search. We loved it! We did two workouts in a row. 

Now…we’re both hooked! Blogilates has short workouts, but they’re intense. The instructor Cassey Ho is fantastic. She has a great personality and the locations of the videos are beautiful. I’ve gotten so I can’t wait to do a workout–it’s that inspiring! 

A few days ago, my daughter asked me if I’d watch a video Cassey had done about body image. Oh heck yeah! Anytime my teenage daughter wants to bring up the subject of body image, I’m all for it. So we watched her video “The Perfect Body” together. And after, we talked about how that relates to my daughter’s experiences. 

I don’t want to spoil the video for you (I do hope you’ll watch it), but it really moved me. Why are people- random people who do not even know her– so mean- spirited? Why do people have to be so mean? When people put others down, they may do it thinking that it makes them look better. I think it took me by surprise because I couldn’t even imagine people criticizing her until I watched the video. By the way, I recognize that I have retained a certain naiveté to wonder how people could behave that way. I still believe people are inherently good. When they say or do mean things, they’re coming from a place of hurt. However, just because they feel a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s okay to act that out by writing cruel things. 

When I was young, I remember watching the movie Bambi and in it, Thumper, Bambi’s bunny friend, is told by his mother, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And in my children’s schooling, all of them have come home at some point and recited the following when confronted by gossip:

Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful?

I think the world would be a better place if we spent more time building each other up instead of putting others down. Spend more time focusing on the beautiful things about people instead of finding their perceived faults. We are all perfectly imperfect.  

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~Maya Angelou


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