“It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the public eye or not. You cannot get away from social media, and it’s ruining a lot of people’s lives.”
I remember watching Little Mix on The X Factor in 2011 and was thrilled when they won.
I always remember that one episode where Jesy and Jade were on the sofa and Jesy was in tears due to some online abuse. In my living room I sat and watched this young girl, two years older than me, pour hear heart out and my own heart went out to her.
In 2011 I was just finishing college and she said that “if everyone looked the same life would be really boring”. At that point in my life I nodded along, rooting for the group. Each of the girls came across as kind, talented and beautiful.
Little Mix were so deserving of the win that year. Watching this documentary and finding out she couldn’t even be excited, and that tormentors online had snatched that away from her, I was in shock.
I enjoy Little Mix’s music, and like each of the women when I see them in interviews however, I’m not as hardcore as some of their fans and I had assumed that she no longer dealt with that amount of hate. I suppose because I remember when it was so prominent online and in the media, it seemed to fade. Clearly it didn’t and clearly what she want through deeply affected her. Nearly ten years later and she still has defences in place and routines to protect herself.
This documentary made me cry more than once. When Jesy shared her experiences and when she met Sian’s parents. Their descriptions of how Sian was in life, and the poem her Dad wrote, it was heartbreaking.
The end showed a statistic that seven out of ten kids have experienced cyberbullying. That is a lot of kids.
A while back I saw an advert that showed a kid saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’. Over and over they repeated those words as their phone continued to buzz with notifications. The ad stated that bullying had changed and so we have to change the way we teach kids how to deal with it.
Taking away phones and social media may or may not work but at the end of the day they still need to be taught for when parents no longer have a say in that decision. To leave them unprepared is to put them at direct risk of harm in the future. Difficulties with Mental Health can have a detrimental affect way into adulthood, because those comments become ingrained in you. They become part of your identity.
I’m not an expert, and I don’t claim to be one. I just know my own experiences and I hope that this documentary helped people and enlightened parents and teachers to what their children are potentially going through every day, and that it opened the table for discussion and action.
“The words people use, whether they choose to use them positively or negatively, they have a permanency and they stick with us.”