I think I've mentioned this horrifically awkward bullying story before. I was fat, five and fabulous. Well, fat and five. I got bullied a bit. It didn't really bother me except I didn't quite understand why anyone would want to make someone else feel stink.
I didn't bully others, so the concept was confusing. As I stood on the corner of Cornwall Rd and Morris Ave in Papatoetoe, my mother stood over the boy who had been bullying me. In a very gentle but firm voice she scolded him:
"Don't bully Pauline. She's having her tonsils taken out next week."
That was surely the lamest reason ever given to not bully someone. Even at five I knew Mum was no good at trash talk.
Read More: Stop the Hate
I was bullied for a while at high school. I was even bullied when I worked briefly for WINZ, by two girls who thought they were cool. They weren't really. They were mean. And I'm sorry but we worked for WINZ: how cool could we actually be?
So now I'm a well-known Kiwi and I get cyberbullied. What I suffer isn't anything like the cyberbullying kids across New Zealand endure and I'm not going to moan too much because I have a forum. I can get on the radio or write here and quasi-retaliate. I have great jobs. I have a good life.
But I get cyberbullied by a strange collection of people. And it's pretty much only on Twitter and blogs I don't read.
I think if someone like Jarrod Gilbert or Pam Corkery called me an "ugly, talentless hoe", or a "vapid, fat moron", then I'd be hurt. When people with no faces write blogs about my butchered face or my talent-less writing I'm like: "I had worse when I was fat, five and fabulous!"
Who are these cyberbullies, though? What feeds them? Is the anonymous vitriol orgasmic? Do they hold onto an actual belief that they are superior to other people? Are they jealous of the beautiful, famous or talented or are they just having fun in a warped way? Like a cyber version of laughing at someone slipping on a banana peel.
I don't get cyberbullying. I was accused of it when I said I didn't think gold shorts were appropriate for a funeral. I don't really think that's cyberbullying as much as being obsessive compulsive about funeral etiquette.
Cyberbullying of children and teenagers is horrid. If you are being cyberbullied, you must speak up. Cyberbullies have no power over you or me. They're not magic, they're tragic. I just made that up - feel free to use it.
You may think: "I'm a 13-year-old girl. I'm scared. No one will listen. I'll get even more bullied."
Those bullies are cowards and they lack the only two things you need in life to be a cool person: Kindness and empathy.
If you are being bullied, tell someone you trust. Tell me, if you like. I get it! I was bullied as a normal Kiwi kid and I'm bullied as a well-known Kiwi grown up. I'll listen to you. Don't keep it inside. Don't harm yourself over it, because there's nothing wrong with you. It's them. Don't feel scared.
Cyberbullies are generally pallid weaklings hiding behind a computer and a wall of self-doubt and self-hate.
Be kind, have empathy, and tell someone like me if you're being bullied. Deal? Deal.
Where to get help:
• In an emergency: call 111
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633, or text 234 (available 24/7) or firstname.lastname@example.org or live chat (between 7pm and 11pm) http://livechat.youthline.co.nz/mibew/chat?locale=en&style=youthline
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 (weekdays 11am to 5pm)
• NetSafe: 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), www.theorb.org.nz
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