By Bridget Conlan
A few weeks ago, I was going through Facebook messages and realized I had a few that were unopened because they had been filtered into a junk folder. One was from an anonymous sender and it read, “You are so ugly. Your mouth is enormous it’s like a piranha.”
I immediately burst out laughing.
I doubt that was the reaction the sender intended for me to have but I couldn’t help it. Now, I am not sure how you send an anonymous Facebook message, but I imagine you would have to create a fake Facebook account, send the message, and then delete the account - whoever this person is they really went out of their way to try to insult me.
It just so happened that I had my annual teeth cleaning scheduled a few days later, so I asked my dentist what she thought about the “big mouth” comment. She and the hygienist seemed to think my feelings had been hurt by the comment, so I quickly made it clear that I thought it was hilarious, and we all laughed at the obvious immaturity of a 20-something who has nothing better to do with their time than sending anonymous insults via Facebook.
If someone had made a comment like that when I was in middle school or high school, it would have impacted me differently. I have definitely received my fair share of insults throughout middle school, high school, college, and even post-grad – and I definitely was not laughing at them at first.
I remember being hurt and upset when I was called fat, or ugly or stupid, or told that I would not have any friends. And I was lucky enough to go though middle school before cyber bullying really started, so I can only imagine how much worse it has gotten.
You can insult someone without a computer or a smartphone – I am convinced there is a cave drawing equivalent to a “Burn Book” that has yet to be discovered - but the Internet certainly can empower bullies and enable them to hide behind the computer screen.
It is a lot easier to write mean things online than it is to say it to someone’s face, and that makes cyber bullying inherently cowardly.
These “keyboard warriors” pretend that they are being brave as they tear others down on the Internet, whether they are sending an anonymous insult or waging a war against someone who disagrees with them. While it can be tempting to stoop to their level, I have found it is better to laugh it off.
God teaches us in Romans 12:17 to "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone Respect what is right in the sight of all men."
Instead of using the power of the Internet for evil, why not try using it to spread grace and become a different kind of “keyboard warrior” - one that spreads positivity.
That girl at school you don’t normally talk to? Give her a compliment on her Instagram selfie where her hair looks amazing.
That friend that moved across the country? Send them a message to say you miss them.
That super intelligent kid at school who has opinions that differ from yours? Try fostering an open discussion so you each can hear the other’s perspective while keeping an open mind.
Always keep Ephesians 4:29 in mind that states, "Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them."