Team Bullied: Mean People Can Suck It

You know when you meet someone and you just instantly click?  You like them, and not Facebook like them, but really like them.  Conversation never lacks and getting to know them is a joy.

That is how I feel about my friend Carrie Goldman.  We met through blogging.  She’s got a super terriffic blog on ChicagoNow called Portrait of an Adoption.  She contacted me last September after she started reading Donna’s Cancer Story.  She wanted to interview me for her blog and would I be interested?  Um.  Yes, yes I would.

We talked non-stop for over two hours that first day.  Turns out we had a lot in common.  She, too, has buried a child.  It’s no fun, folks, but it certainly provides a shorthand when you’re getting to know someone.  Carrie has known great and tremendous loss, but she is still joyful, feisty, funny, honest, open, loving, engaged. I love all of that about her.

When Donna’s Cancer Story sort of exploded last September/October, Carrie saw me through it.  She guided me and helped me figure out what it meant to be in the middle of a viral story.  She, too, had been in the middle of a viral story.  It’s odd when your life goes viral.  Surreal, really.

Carrie wrote a post about her oldest daughter, Katie, being bullied in school.  Apparently, carrying a Star Wars water bottle is not something a little girl should be doing and Katie’s first grade peers let her know it by bullying her.  Within days of publishing her post, Carrie was being interviewed by CNN.   Hundreds of thousands of people around the world became aware of Katie literally overnight.  The Star Wars community (who knew?) embraced her as its youngest hero and Carrie became the voice of reason about bullying.

So much so that she’s written a book about it.

Bullied Book

Bullied:  What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear will be published August 14 by HarperOne and I am thrilled for Carrie and anxious to read it.  Carrie, you see, knows her stuff.  If you need evidence of that, take a look at this list of resources on bullying she assembled.  It is definitive and exhaustive and after August 14, will be adding one more resource — her own.

As a kid, I was never bullied.  Well, there was one girl, a friend of a friend, who insisted on calling me “Ghostface” thanks to my pale Irish complexion.  But this girl was younger than me and had bad glasses.  Its hard to feel threatened by someone wearing something you don’t approve of.  Gratefully, I made it through childhood unscathed, despite having a last name that rhymes with jerk.

I was shunned, and not part of the popular crowd, but that is different.  Being shunned is to being bullied sort of like what neglect is to abuse — the absence of something (proper care) rather than the presence of something (physical, verbal, or emotional aggression).  I got used to being on the periphery of things as a child, and quite honestly, it is where I still reside and where I am most comfortable.

The closest I’ve come to being bullied happened on my Mary Tyler Mom Facebook page earlier this year.  I made the mistake of posting a photo of my kid that a group of moms did not approve of.  I have no idea who they were or where they came from or why they swooped in like a colony of flying monkeys, but for several scary hours, they made it their mission to bully me on the Internet by stealing images of my son and creating several Facebook pages with his image plastered all over them as evidence of my poor parenting.  Having already lost a child, seeing my other child made vulnerable by a pack of mean, threatening strangers was almost too much to bear.

I learned a lesson that day about Internet security.  And promised Mary Tyler Dad to publish no more images of our son.  Bullies will do that — threaten and restrict your normal actions.  But in the name of defense and safety, you do what you need to do to keep yourself and those you love safe.

Bullying is rampant these days.  And its gone hard core.  No longer is it simply the musclebound jock kicking sand at the 98 pound weakling on the beach.  Children are opting for suicide in reaction to the relentless nature of social media hazing and 21st century bullying, that has very few limits or boundaries.

Carrie recognized this and opted to do something.  Yet another reason I heart her.  Her book came as a direct response to her daughter’s experiences.  Reviews are in and they are positive — I think this is gonna be big.  Really BIG.  REALLY BIG.

Another reason I think this is because a video movement has started for folks like you and me to talk about our experiences of being bullied and share them with others in conjunction with the book release.  Some have already been posted.  You can watch them here.  They are powerful.  And Carrie wants more.

Bullied Banner

Please consider posting your own video to raise awareness about the devastating social phenomenon of bullying.  Or watch videos already posted.  Team Bullied will be archiving all posted videos as a testament to the harmful effects of being bullied — in the moment as it is being experienced, but also years later as you try and deal with the after effects.

I simply adore people who DO SOMETHING.  Truly.

I will be toasting Carrie as she launches her book at the Barnes & Noble Old Orchard on Tuesday, August 14th at 7PM in the Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.  Wanna join me?

6 Replies to “Team Bullied: Mean People Can Suck It”

  1. Wow! Just this weekend I came upon some texts on my sons phone. Ryan’s brother Cameron. Cameron is ten- Hes been through alot. He lost his younger brother Ryan to cancer a year ago, and I guess I just assumed his peers were understanding, sympathetic, kind hearted ten year olds- they are not. What I found was shocking! Sad! And stomache turning. I have yet to approach the kids- the parents- this was a bad weekend for me first with Ryan’s one year “rememory” as Sheila would say- and then Monday first day of a new school year. My ryan should have started 2nd grade. Anyway I guess I put off a task I really don’t feel up to doing. The parents, theKids, it’s all stressful. My son is a painter, a lover of music, and old antiques, he’s into the 60s! And all kinds of quirky cool things- not so popular things among his peers I suppose- he’s been instructed to stay away from these kids whom I read the texting from- do I approach the patents? Will that cause my son any more anxiety? Don’t Know what to do except keep those punks away from him n tell him how much he means to me- he lost his best friend his brother Ryan and I fear he is lost now….


  2. I am going to try and join you. As a relocated Chicago girl I usually can’t do that but I will be home that week (plus it’s my birthday the dy of the signing!)


  3. I grew up being bullied, teased, shunned… I was the fat kid. The kid whose siblings were popular and I was not.
    Years of abuse at home had made me awkward, angry and very much on the outside.
    Much to my sorrow now, I became a bully, the only way out of that cycle was to join in, make others fear me.
    I hate that I did to someone what I had spent years having done to me.
    When my own kids went through it, I felt that karma was having her way with me.
    Having been in both camps helped me to help my kids but I always think of the harm I did more than the harm done to me.


  4. This is wonderful! I remember reading about Katie. Such an inspirational story!
    I was bullied and shunned growing up. Even people I considered my friends made fun of me at times. It was tough, because I didn’t have a lot of support at home either, so I grew up with cripplingly low self-esteem that still hasn’t gone away completely. Kudos to Carrie and this project!


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