I always knew about cyber bullying, hadn’t thought about it too much because of the cliche situation of thinking ‘it would never happen to me’ and I am still not convinced that what I’ve been through is actually this.
When I started blogging seven years ago I just wrote short stories, because I loved to write. I also did book reviews; not paid reviews but just read a book and wrote what I thought of if. I also wrote blogs about my life, holidays and sewing projects I had done.
I enjoyed doing it and would get lovely comments from followers from time to time which ultimately gave me a bit of a boost back then as I’d suffered with depression and writing was like therapy to me.
Then someone said to me “why don’t you have a social media page?” I shrugged and thought ‘I could do that!’ So I went about setting up Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Back then I had the time to maintain them but didn’t blog as much, then over time my blog got forgotten about and I would just tend to post on my SM. I would still occasionally post on my blog and share on my SM sites.
At first I enjoyed it and it was easier to post on there than doing it on my blog because I could do it all on my phone, saved me from getting the laptop out every night.
I then started to get messages from companies asking me if I’d like their help promoting my website, I admit when they first started to send them I thought how it would be amazing to get paid to write! I should’ve have realised then it was all too good to be true, I’d ask them questions but they’d still come back with “hey give me your phone number and we’ll have a chat about it!” I didn’t give out my number and ignored it.
When William came along I started to write about motherhood because my lifestyle had changed, people were enjoying my posts and telling me how funny they were. I loved that because all I ever wanted to do was entertain.
The first message I had from one of ‘them’ was roughly in the spring of 2019, totally unexpected after a post I made on Twitter about my life as a tired mum moaning because William hadn’t stopped that day and I was in bed by 7.
“You’re a mum who moans about motherhood, not very original! What happened to your old posts the one that were actually interesting to read?” I remember reading the comment over and over till I cried. In hindsight I should’ve taken a screen shot and reported it to Twitter, but instead I let it stew and let it get to me. I deleted the post I’d made, I can’t actually remember why I did that.
It was a few months later that I had another comment, on Twitter again.
“I have read your website. Interesting, not your blog but what is interesting is that you call yourself a blogger. Correct me if I’m wrong but to be a blogger to need to blog interesting stuff?”
I stopped posting for a while after this, my confidence completely knocked. I had to sit and really think about what I’d wanted to do, I spoke to a friend and fellow blogger who told me this person was speaking nonsense and to carry on if I enjoyed doing it and just ignore the comments.
Nonetheless I continued with my blog and my SM sites, I was doing the same as what I’d always been doing then in 1 week I had a message from the same person twice via Instagram.
“You don’t have many followers and I can see why, so why don’t you join my group of ****** and improve the number of your followers and likes?” I blocked them, after pondering over what to do but they contacted me again as a slightly different username.
“Did you block me? That was rude. I will contact your followers and tell them you write lies.” This time I reported them to the SM site and blocked them, I didn’t have a response for ages and eventually when they did they didn’t actually deal with the problem they just ‘supposedly’ deleted the accounts.
I stopped posting for a while, it totally knocked my confidence. Then someone said they were missing my updates on William, so I just did posts on my Facebook page. But everytime I put a post up I didn’t got any likes and somehow convinced myself that no one wanted to read about my life anymore, lockdown had started and I had started to belittle myself convincing myself that I was a failure at everything including my writing and no one was reading it. Everytime I did a post I would keep going back looking for likes, not from followers but from friends and family. It was really effecting me in every way and I got to a point where someone close to me had said “where’s the old Annabel?” That was when I realised how depressed I had become.
It’s funny how I spend my life looking after everyone else around me, making sure my husband doesn’t overdo it because of his medical condition. The same with my parents, I worry constantly about my mum which I won’t go in to detail about because I know she sometimes reads my blog. I worry about my brothers because even though they’re both a lot older than me and they say they’re ok I know they’re not. (One went through a shitty divorce and the other was one minute due to get married and move house and then when covid came along it all got postponed, he lost his job and the house he was due to buy, all because he wanted a better lifestyle for himself now that his children were adults and left the roost.)
At the same time william was going through changes with being at home 24/7 and was hitting out at me and I had no idea how to deal with this to begin with and blamed myself for the way I was bringing him up and giving him all the attention and now he expected it all the time. It was all so draining.
I feel like I’ve turned a corner and things are getting better and we are both lucky enough to work from home and it’s all working out well, I feel blessed that we both can work around Williams school hours and that we both have flexible and supportive jobs.
This week I’ve had a couple of moments where SM has made me think twice which is why I’ve come back to my blog, I enjoy the fact that I can write freely on my blog and not be judged (please) so I changed my Instagram account back to private, I still have Twitter but I just use it to keep in touch with of writers and bloggers that I’ve made friends with over the years. I took my Facebook page down and just use it for private use now, but I do have weakness for wasting time watching tiktok (there’s some awesome tips on there!!)
I had no idea how much of an effect SM has on people, it’s one of those things you need thicker skin for. People hiding behind their screen are far more vulgar than what they would be if they were talking in the street face to face.
‘It is sad that the internet is as much useful as it is dangerous.’