Ladies, You're Embarrassing Yourselves with Your Nasty Messages
Recently, I was spending time with my teenage cousin when she received a message from a girl with whom she used to be friends.
The contents of this message were not only vulgar but just made no sense whatsoever. It was the most immature of attempted insults from a young woman of what I guess to be between 15 and 17 years of age.
I love my cousin so much, and when she is in pain, my heart will be breaking for her. But in that moment, more than feeling sorry for my cousin, I felt so embarrassed for her former friend who had sent the message. I pitied that girl.
I knew nothing about her, nothing of her and my cousin's falling out. All I knew is that someone who would send a message like that would have to have such low self-esteem, even if she didn’t realise it or didn’t want to admit it to herself.
In the last year, my cousin has become more resilient, more loving, quicker-witted and more sure of herself. I am incredibly proud of her.
On receipt of the message, instead of crying, instead of being angry, instead of her self-esteem being affected, my cousin asked me, “Why would she send that?”
The fact of the matter is I will never understand why young women send these kind of messages. No matter the anger or resentment I might feel against another woman, I couldn’t imagine sending a message like that. I couldn’t bring myself firstly to say anything like that to someone because I can’t understand what result it would bring about to the recipient. They feel sad... and then what? Would that make me feel better? No, it would make me feel worse. I would be embarrassed to show I was so threatened by someone and so insecure that I had to send something so childish.
I have received my fair share of hate mail and nasty messages. There was a point where it affected me... but in high school, I was lucky enough that my mum was able to teach me that these messages came from a place of jealousy. I receive these messages now, and I am filled with nothing but pity for the people sending them. Every now and then, they anger me... if they are sending these to me, who else are they sending them to? Are they sending them to women without the same confidence? Are they sending them to women who are going through a hard time?
I remember when I first came out of hospital last year, I received hate mail from a prominent ACT figure, and I was horrified. She had no idea of my mental and emotional state, but it would be safe to assume that I may have been fragile... but that didn’t matter to her. In the sender's mind, the need to bring other people down trumps the very real possibility that these messages, sent to a vulnerable person, could be deadly. The truth is no matter how well we think we know someone, we never know what is happening with them when it comes to their mental health and well-being. In light of this, it is never ok to send a message which could be potentially harmful.
These messages are not weapons; they are armour. Their primary use is not to attack people; it's to protect the sender against their own feelings of inadequacy.
We need to ensure our young women are filled with the confidence and self assurance needed not only to stay away from sending these kind of messages but to be supportive and encouraging of their fellow woman. This needs to be done at home and at school. This needs to be done in the workplace and in the wider community. We need to ensure we are shaping this next generation of young leaders to create a more harmonious, a safer and subsequently a more prosperous society.