One question I’ve been asking a lot recently is, “When did it become acceptable to vocalize judgement?” Why is this ok? At what point did manners take a back seat and it become socially acceptable to say what we think of people? I have come across this in previous years during the height of my teens; most teens will have felt that someone was talking about them at one point. But I thought that in my adult years and during motherhood, I would no longer be subjected to this form of bullying. How wrong I am!
It doesn’t take much to see that in a village of full of people, I kind of stand out. I’m not the only one of course but I’m frequent up and down the high street, darting to and from school or shops, so you see more of my blue head. For the most part everyone is used to me and doesn’t bat an eyelid. I’m polite and greet people with a “good morning” or a “Hello!” before they even have a chance to form an opinion. However, for all those smiles and compliments, I am still subject to a judgement. Usually this type of behaviour is laughed off with an eyeroll and I put it down to closed mindedness. After all, why dye your hair blue if you can’t take a bit of the ridicule right? But recently I was reminded how it feels to be on the receiving end of tormented judgement and it sucked. Full on, felt intimidated. I’m an adult of 34, I have children, a job, a life, and these people decided for whatever reason, I needed to know how “ridiculous” I was being.
Walking out of the shop and heading towards the school on my usual stroll to collect the munchies (kids) I passed a van full of tradesmen. I hadn’t seen them before and when you live in a small, close knit, village you sense when people are just passing through. These men then got out of their van, covered in paint splattered clothes, stood against the doors of the van and heckled me as I walked past. They got louder as I got closer and when I shot them a look of “you can’t be serious” they became aggressive. The laughter and snickering of these men sounded volatile and dangerous.
I don’t rise to this kind of thing, but I will be honest, I wanted too. Feeling my blood boiling and the red mist falling over my face, I wanted to lay into them and shout, yell, scream, everything. I wanted to stand up for everyone who was ever bullied or intimidated, right then and there! But I kept walking. Part fear, part moral high ground.
Now sitting here in the safety of my home with a hot cup of tea, I reflect on this confrontation. Would I have done anything differently? No, because I know who I am and what my strengths are. Getting into a heated debate is one things but putting myself in danger is quite another. I pick my battles and this wasn’t one of them. But this leads me back to my opening question of when this kind of criticism become ok?
I think what we are all guilty of is taking satire too far, we poke fun at ourselves and get lost in idea of having a laugh. So much so that when we bring someone else into the equation and begin to poke fun at them thinking it’s all in good humour, we forget that poking fun is the root of bullying. What starts out as a joke can quickly spiral out of control and before we know it, we’re passing judgment. How many times have you been out and seen a mother on her phone while her kids run around and thought she was on the phone to her mates rather than maybe holding a meeting or doing an interview?
Society is becoming more and more judgemental as tech advances and as these advances can bring ease to our lives, its eliminating consequence. Since we can’t see the hurt on someone’s face we are becoming numb to feelings. We are losing our natural filters of good conscience.
It’s not just how we look that gets criticized, it’s our lives, our choices, sexual orientation, religion. The way we eat, the way we walk. how thin, how muscular, how tall. Everything about us seems to be open to mockery and it’s unfair. It needs to stop. No one has the right to tell you you’re any less of a human.
This experience shook me but not in a way that I want to retreat and change the way I look. It made me angry that grown adults are capable of such damage and they didn’t even care. It didn’t stop their day and they probably already forgot about it by the time they got to the end of the road. I was on the way to get my son and daughter from school. What if they were with me and heard someone saying that about their mum? Everything I stand for, everything I try to teach my kids could have been undone in one disgusting moment.
Then I come away and think, actually, the lesson would have been positive. My kids would have seen how strength handled the situation. How I held my head high and kept walking and most important how I didn’t change.
Setting the example and leading by it.
DeAnna’s (Blue Chameleon blog series) Focuses on rebuilding self-confidence after suffering through difficult times. DeAnna lives in Cambridge, England with her family, cats and dog. She credits a portion of happiness to her partner, Pete, punctuation manager, picture taker.