Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bullying: Why My Online Personality Isn't My Real One

You may know Nymphy from her occasionally witty and funny posts here on this blog as well as being the newly procced GM of Eff the Ineffable. You may also know that she loves babies and sometimes writes posts about them. You may know her as the flirty and fun arcane mage that loves achievements and old school raiding. And you may know her from her flagrant affair with the floor and the Spirit Healer. Yet behind the awesomely mogged pixels on the screen, Nymphy is played by a person and that person is me.

Warning: may cause triggers and involves mentions of childhood bullying, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, depression, and anxiety.

Thanks to the overwhelming bravery of Apple Cider Mage, WoWExclucis, LodurZJ, and the outpouring of support from people like Grimmtooth, Big Bear Butt, and many others I have decided to add my voice, timid though it may be. They have all written posts about bullying over the past few days, and I am inspired by their courage. Bullying is insidious and has far reaching consequences. Unlike them, I am not writing about a specific incidence of bullying in my life, I am writing about the consequences of bullying. In a way, my whole personality is a consequence.

We sometimes forget that the toon on the screen is a real person because emotions are easily masked behind cheerful banter and flirtatious whispers. When you interact with their toon, you have no way of knowing that that toon is a front, a way to be someone that they wish they could be. The online community provides such a level of anonymity that you can use to hide behind an avatar, a screen name. You can be the person you want to be. Online, I can be the friendly, outgoing, and almost popular person that in real life I am never and could never be.

I have been bullied all my life. In school I was that girl who walked quickly between classes with her arms wrapped around a stack of books never stopping to flirt at her locker with some boy that she liked that week. I have never been popular....ever. I had a couple friends, but those friendships died after school ended. I was that girl who got picked on at the playground. I was pushed from a wall and had my arm broken once, and I have had spitballs and rocks thrown at my head. Taunts and insults were hurled at my mind, but the bullying at school was preferable to the bullying at home. I grew up a foster child. I have been physically, emotionally, and sexually abused.

When I met my future husband while taking the ASVAB test to get into the military, I thought that maybe, just maybe there was something worth seeing in me.Yeah there was something there all right. He saw in me a person that he could control and emotionally tear down until there was nothing left.

Bullying has gifted me with clinical depression and an anxiety disorder. There are days where I simply cannot find motivation to do anything. There are days where I have anxiety attacks to the point where I am crippled by indecision. Even today, surrounded by friends on the internet, I cannot believe that they are friendly to me because of me. I am convinced that they are only friendly because they are being kind, pitying even. My self esteem is non existent. I don’t look at myself and think that I am a person worth knowing or loving. Bullying of this kind has made its mark in permanent ink on my psyche. WoW is my escape and a chance to let the personality I would have had naturally free to express herself. THIS is the product of lifelong bullying.

I am here writing this because you never know what a kind word or a random /hug can do to help a person like me. I am not writing this, as some trolls will say, for attention. At least not attention for me. I am writing this to bring attention TO what bullying can cause. Even though there may appear to be no fabled light at the end of a tunnel, or a rope dangling to the bottom of a very deep hole, there always is. Reach out to someone, ANYONE, because I, of all people, have learned that you don't have to suffer alone. There are people out there who are willing to talk about meaningless things to help you feel better about the world. I have created my own personal support team filled with people who will take that time to ensure that I am not alone when I shouldn’t be. Whether or not I listen to my doubts about the validity of their concern is another story.

If you are a victim of online bullying please refer to Apple Cider Mage's guide for help. And if things look to be SO DARK that you are thinking of harming yourself or others please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

15 comments:

  1. Reading this struck a cord with me, the 3rd paragraph from the bottom sums up how I feel most of the time. Although I can't act the part in-game, not any more, I'm too fragile to pretend. Whenever someone I don't talks me to me, I tend to ignore them because it's safer, easier. My blog almost gets deleted every second week because it's pointless. I watch twitter scrolling by, wishing I felt I could join in but not feeling I have anything to contribute.

    I was one of those girls at school/university. The ones who biggest issues were whether their nail varnish matched their shoes and who'd get the most valentines day cards. Then a familiar twist to old story I met a man who seemed charming and kind and loving at first.

    In the aftermath of my abusive relationship, someone* told me it was karma for me being too popular at high school and maybe it was. I mean that's the only reasonable reaction right, that I deserved to be threatened, hit, hurt, to have every last bit of self confidence ripped away. To feel worthless, useless and pathetic for the rest of my life to balance things out.

    The problem with bullying is the bruises fade, but the scars inside, they stick around. I'm married to a man who adores me, even though I wince whenever he goes to touch me. A man who puts up with my depression, with my fear of going outside, with the fact that I used to cut myself as a way of coping as a way of turning mental pain into it's physical counterpart.

    Hitting publish on a post like this, which show vulnerability must be an incredibility hard thing to do so I have complete respect for people like you and Apple.

    There are far too many of us out there, lives twisted by casual cruelty and so having people brave enough to stand up and say enough is a tremendous thing.

    Anyway, enough post hijacking from me. This was meant to be a quick line saying thank you, so thank you.

    *a so called friend.

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  2. Just awesome. I am sorry that you had so many difficulties. Many of us went through this, as you know. It's really brave of you to put this out there, so thank you. Keep up the good fight!

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  3. Great Post Nymphy - takes a lot of courage and confidence to post this. Very proud of you as a friend and guild leader :)

    /viktos

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  4. Thank you for sharing, *hug*

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  5. I found that the wonderful thing about the internet (or in my case the precursor to it) was that I could finally let my inner self out to play. People actually liked me for who I was and even sometimes what I said mattered to them. It was an amazing and unusual thing for me. I made many lifelong friends and met my future (and current) wife.

    In those days we started setting up FidoNet "echos" for support groups for all sorts of people that were reaching out and looking for support. As the "internet" took form I realized how much better it would be at the same things.

    So here we are, speaking our minds and finding others that are sympathetic or even empathetic to our various causes. It's a great thing!

    WoW Insider (I think it was) ran an article theorizing that WoW was in itself a social network. The past couple of days really do bear that out, don't they?

    Props to you for sharing your experiences with everyone. The more of us that do this, the more likely some lonely, desperate soul will find a post that resonates and brings them back to us.

    /hugs

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  6. I was bullied all my life, at school and at home. I was the girl sat alone at lunch, reading a book and trying to escape into a fantasy world because real life was too awful to bear. I got married to an abusive man as well but then I found WoW and made some friends. I started to gain confidence and slowly emerged from my shell. I even found the courage to leave my ex and make friends in 'real life'. But I'm still a scared little girl inside, terrified of the dark, suffering recurring nightmares, panic attacks and depression. My boyfriend now is so kind, understanding and thoughtful that I daily tell myself I don't deserve him.

    I guess that's why it hurts so much when assholes in WoW - whether semi-anonymous in LFG or someone on my realm - treat me like shit. My friends tell me not to let them get to me but it's hard not to when these assholes are reinforcing what I've been told almost every day of my stupid life.

    Sorry for rambling. I just wanted to tell you that what you wrote really spoke to me because I've been there too. You're not alone. /hug

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  7. /hug

    I've been through ... I guess some similar shit. It's more common than the world would have you believe. But (with the help of an excellent psychologist) I managed finally to look at the events which had made me so anxious and depressed, to work out the negative feedback loops in my mind, and life has never been better. Even if it took twenty years.

    I guess what I wanted to say is that it is possible to not be depressed and anxious, that there is a way through it, that life can get better. And I really hope that you find that too.

    Kia Kaha! Be strong!

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  8. Just dropping by to give a random /hug

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  9. Fee, I am so proud of you for having the courage to put this out there..

    HUGE /HUG!

    Bull

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  10. @ Bella: /hugs Thanks lady :)

    @Erinys: Karma is not an excuse to be treated that way we have. That is just bs. Thank you so much for the comment here. I am not sure how you found us but I am glad that I helped you in a little way and also thank you for your words of encouragement.

    @WoWExclusis: Thank you for the many Twitter hugs and words of encouragement. They bring rare smiles to my face.

    @Viktos: Aww thanks Vik :D You and Bella are awesome. I

    @Lodur: No, that YOU for sharing. Without you and Apple doing this, I would have never gotten the courage to. /hugs

    @Grimmtooth: /hugs This is exactly why I wrote this post really. The Nymphy online is who I wish I will eventually be. The support I have found here has allowed that part so deeply hidden to peek out a little.

    @K: I have found so many kindred spirits here through this post. Thank you so much for leaving your comment. I am glad that my post encouraged you. That is worth the pain and the fear and the anxiety in writing it.

    @Fletcher: Thanks for the hope in your words. That someday is still far out there but, eventually yes?

    @Gnomeaggedon: /hugs! Thanks a whole lot!!!

    @Ellori: /hugs! Aww thanks :D

    @Bull: Thanks Bull, you are one in a million! /hugs

    General- I am overwhelmed at the number of comments put here and the still larger number of page views that this post has generated. I did not write this post for popularity, I wrote it to simply tell people that they may feel like they are alone, but they really aren't. I am hoping somewhere in the numbers that my words have encouraged people who may not have commented here.

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  11. Hi Nymphy,

    The stories you, K, and others have shared really mean a lot to me. I have some similar experiences that have left their mark. I also am different online from who I am IRL. It means a great deal to me to hear that Im not alone.

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  12. Man, sorry to hear that, and yes, a lot of resonance in my life (skinny, nerdy, foreign dude in high school wasn't a fun experience, especially in Gym and during lunches) and I'm very sorry that it has followed you into your adult life as well...

    Depression and Anxiety are terrible things to deal with, especially those of us who have a clinical/life-long deal with it. Treatment is possible, help is out there, I wish you the best of luck with this.

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  13. Late responder here, but thanks for sharing your personal tales. /Hug

    Did you end up joining the military afterall? I did found it completely different than growing up in school, their weren't weren't the cliques of mean people that i grew up with, everyone was just "green".

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