Have you ever listened to something and been so moved by it that you just felt you had to share it? I saw a link on the Everybody Matters FB Page in which Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston spoke out against an email she received from a viewer.
The email is as follows:
It’s unusual that I see your morning show, but I did so for a very short time today. I was surprised indeed to witness that your physical condition hasn’t improved for many years. Surely you don’t consider yourself a suitable example for this community’s young people, girls in particular. Obesity is one of the worst choices a person can make and one of the most dangerous habits to maintain. I leave you this note hoping that you’ll reconsider your responsibility as a local public personality to present and promote a healthy lifestyle.
[Source: WKBT Mike Thompson (Facebook)]
I’m sorry that there are people in this world who think they can hide behind the faceless anonymity of the internet and say things to folk from the safety of an email that they would never have the courage to say to their faces. I’m sorry that they think it’s perfectly acceptable to tear someone down, or hold them to a standard that is unrealistic or just blatantly unfair. And I’m sorry that this beautiful woman had to read such hurtful words wrapped in the sticky syrup of pretend niceness. It’s not caring to be so cruel. It’s not kind to be mean and jab at people. And, imho, it’s incredibly cowardly when you do it anonymously and from the safety of your computer.
People are fragile creatures. We are wonderfully unique with skills, talents and traits that are all our own. We have flaws, all of us. None of us are perfect and every one of us has something about us we’d love to change. Whatever it is, it makes us human: fragile, flawed, imperfect, glorious, and human.
I know there are people saying mean things about me. I know there are people saying mean things about others too. And I know that they do it in emails or on social media and forums where it’s deemed okay or acceptable because it’s just words and feelings, and if you can’t see the posts then you can’t get upset. But when you do that, when you write words on the internet and share them with the world, or with your friends, you may as well sky-write them across the heavens. Because they are out there. The mean jab and the cruel taunt is right there to become a searchable post of nastiness about someone which can so very easily be shared further. That’s what screen captures and copy & paste does. Anything can be hacked. And everything is vulnerable to people you don’t want to see it seeing it. Nothing is secret once you post it online.
Did that man writing the email think his words would be broadcast across the world and used to create an inspirational soundbite for people everywhere? Did he think somehow it would be a private hurt that Jennifer would keep to herself and cry over when nobody was looking? What exactly did he think would happen to it? What exactly did he hope to achieve?
I bet he never, in a million years, thought he’d make the woman of his cruel taunt stand up against him, and offer words of encouragement and hope to everybody listening.
Bullies get their power from thinking that those they taunt won’t fight back. Why do you think bullies don’t attack bigger bullies? Because they know they would lose. Why do you think bullies use your hurts against you? Because it empowers them. They feel bigger when they make you feel small. So, no matter how hard, and no matter how much it sucks, you have to be strong. You are beautiful. You are human. You are flawed. And so are they.
“Do NOT let your self-worth be defined by bullies.”
[Jennifer Livingston, WKBT]
Now I ask that you listen to this segment in which Jennifer Livingston talks about the cruel email which started all this, and follows it with a wonderful and inspiring response.
[Source – WKBT Youtube Page]
[Alternate Source – News Anchor Speaks Out Against Bullying – the Everybody Matters Facebook post]
Jennifer, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being so brave that you didn’t let them get away with it. Thank you for being so loving and caring that you used this mean taunt to tell a message of hope and encouragement to people. Thank you for being better than the cruel bully who tried to hurt you. And thank you for being an inspiration.
I hope everyone feels empowered and inspired by her message. And I hope those on the hurtful end of a bully’s taunt knows they are not alone. You matter. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.