Sarahah took the social media world by storm a few weeks ago. While it has already seemed to fade out, it seemed to cause a bit of controversy. Many loved it, many hated it. I was one of those haters. My initial reaction was that it was just another way to cyberbully people. I watched for days as my FB friends would share images of what people sent them. Some of them were positive, some things were negative. It hurt my heart to see the negative posts, but it also made me happy to see people’s enthusiastic responses to the positive messages they were receiving. I just wished people didn’t feel the need to only share positive messages like that anonymously. I had a couple conversations with people about the app, and it was really on my heart to write my thoughts about it. So, I reluctantly decided to create my own Sarahah account just to see what messages I would receive, and I could use responses in my post. I shared it on FB once, and now I want to share the messages that I received.
- “You are one of the sweetest people ever. I wish we could spend more time together.”
- “Mary Annnnnnn I love youuuuuu for reals though. -secret admirer”
- “You are inspiring. The more I see you and your posts, the more I find myself longing to be your friend, not just an acquaintance. I somehow know that you would be such a great friend to have. Your heart radiates from the inside, out. You have a light that cannot be dimmed. I’m thankful the world has someone like you.”
- “Leave constructive message? How about…. i thought we had something going, then you started dating that guy. Ugh. My heart is broken.”
- “I don’t know you on a personal level, but I appreciate your honesty about your struggle with depression and your relationship with God. Your new blog seems like an exciting new adventure and I hope it goes well for you.”
- “I’ve always found you attractive!”
- “You have always been beautiful, your spirit shines. But seeing you happy has made your light shine even brighter. Proud of you!”
If you were one of the people that mentioned wanting to spend more time with me, or longing to be my friend…PLEASE REACH OUT TO ME. Even if you’re not local to me….internet friendships can be amazing too. You have no idea how much I love people and friendships. You can never have too many friends in your life. But this post is more than just Sarahah. I want to encourage people to personally (aka not anonymously) reach out to people…even if it’s a random message, we all can use encouragement sometimes. It could be an encouraging message, or an apology for being a dumb teenager in the past…I like to live life real. Now, I’d like to share some more with you on the wide topic of cyberbullying. It goes way beyond Sarahah.
I was bullied and cyberbullied most of middle school and high school—in forms very similar to Sarahah. With the sharing of my Sarahah page, I had flashbacks to middle school and high school. I remembered some of the things I would read across my computer or phone screen. Some comments were anonymous…others had names attached to them. My classmates…people who didn’t know me or barely knew me…talking negatively about me. It was like I didn’t matter. I’d like to share with you some of the things that came roaring back into my mind. These are real things I experienced as a pre-teen and teenager. Bottom line: words hurt. The effects of these still haunt me today.
“Her bottom lip is so fat and sticks out and it looks like she’s always pouting.”
- To this day, I hate my lips. People tell me my lips are beautiful and women would kill for my lips..but I can’t do it.
“She wears these tank tops and you can see all the fat on her arms.”
“She tried to wear a bikini and you could see all her stretch marks. She looks disgusting.”
- I have never been ashamed of my body, but have always been so uncomfortable in swimwear because I never knew what other people were thinking or saying about me. I could never convince myself to wear more than a tankini-and even then, I felt awkward. This summer though…I finally felt comfortable enough to sport a bikini. I know my arms are flabby and my stomach could be smaller, and I’ll eventually get there..but for now, I’m happy.
“I can’t be friends with you anymore. I was only pretending to be friends with you because I felt sorry for you. But you’re fat and weird and I can’t be friends with you.”
- I heard something similar to this countless times in middle school and high school. I’m almost 25 years old, and I still struggle with friends. I have very few deep friendships, and I pretty much live terrified that I’m going to do something to mess up those relationships, or they’re going to one day change their mind about my friendship.
I have heard the word “fat” directed towards me so many times in my life. I hate that word. Before my weight loss these past 2 years, I would always be uncomfortable standing next to people that were way skinner than I was. I felt like a whale around other people. I always wanted to lose weight, but I never had the drive to do so until I lost the first 20 pounds due to stress and anxiety in January 2016. More on that later.
I’ve shared these things with you today because they matter. While I don’t go through my life fretting on the past, our past is very much part of who we are today. The words we speak (or type) to others matter. The good and the bad. It’s also so important to be real with people. If you see a FB post from a HS classmate you were never really friends with, but if you resonated with it in some way….TELL THEM. If you see that same person going through a hard time, and you’ve been in similar shoes…REACH OUT. I had multiple HS acquaintances reach out to me 2 years ago, and it was so encouraging to me during that time. Pay attention and have an open mind, and you never know what doors will be opened. You matter to me. If there’s anything I can do to encourage you and support you, please do not hesitate to reach out. You may think it’s awkward and random, but it won’t be to me.
A final thought:
I know I’ve said terrible words to people—making me a bully. If I did that to you, I’m truly sorry.
And if you bullied me at some point, I forgive you.