News

U.S. Olympian becomes target of online bullying, but how she is reacting is important

Posted August 23

Now 20-year-old Gabby Douglas was the belle of the ball in the 2012 London Olympics (when she was then 16 years old). She took home two gold medals: one in an individual gymnastics even and one team event.

In London, her team was nicknamed The Fierce Five, but now Gabby is taking over the Internet with the nickname #CrabbyGabby.

Why

The internet is attacking Gabby for a few reasons:

  • She appeared to not support her team.
  • She didn't put her hand over her heart during the U.S. national anthem after the U.S. team won an event.
  • Some people even seem to have a problem with her hair.
  • And plenty more ...
We've all been exposed to news stories in the past about cyber bullying and how to respond to it, but what Gabby's mother reveals about Gabby's response is a humbling reminder we all need to remember.

Gabby is devastated

Of course she's devastated! Whether or not her actions are right or wrong, blatant bullying is no way to respond. Gabby's reaction is not surprising, it's human. Too many cyber bullies take to the net under the guise of anonymity, hiding behind a username, and brutalize people they think will never hear about it.

They're wrong.

Celebrities, writers, artists, athletes, victims and yes, even Olympians use the internet and are exposed to the hate we, the public, may tend to throw their way. If you don't believe me, just check out any of jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets videos.

What ever happened to the mantra we learned as kids: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. Did it become outdated? Did it only apply to children too immature to know how to insult someone (insert sarcasm here) respectfully? Do we sacrifice our humanity in the name of freedom of expression?

But she disrespected her team and country

Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. We've seen pictures and read mean tweets, nothing else. We weren't there, we weren't in her head. A picture may be worth 1,000 words but about 800 of them are speculatory, presumptive and judgemental.

We don't know her motivations. We, the Internet, need to stop pretending we know her and her circumstances. Give Gabby a break.

On the bright side

There are still good people out there. Many have rallied around Gabby, diluting the haters with words of love and support. Be one of those people. Do good for good's sake. You don't have to agree with her actions. You can be disappointed in her, you have the right to express it, but don't resort to tearing her down. You can respectfully disagree and defend someone confronted by a bully at the same time.

David Snell is a writer for the FamilyShare team, specializing in humor writing. He's trilingual (English, Spanish and Movie Quotes), passionate about all things communication and is always up for learning new skills.

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