“The Trump Effect” And How It’s Affecting Me

2016-06-25-13-30-31This blog post isn’t about Donald Trump the candidate. It’s not about his platform or policies, or his vulgar comments caught on tape last week. In fact, this post isn’t about politics at all. It’s about Donald Trump the bully, and the effect his bullying is having on me.

“The Trump Effect,” isn’t something I made up. It’s a real term coined by the nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups.

In their new study, “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation’s Schools,” the SPLC shows that the election is inflaming racial and ethnic tensions, and producing alarming levels of fear and anxiety among children of color.

Whether it’s schoolchildren taunting “Build that wall!” or “Go back to Mexico!” Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric on the campaign trail is being played out in ugly playground spats and classroom exchanges all across America.

I’m not a kid, but I feel their pain.

I’ve been the victim of bullying too—not in a schoolyard when I was a kid—but as an adult, not so long ago. I was harassed, cyber-bullied, and threatened by two ex-friends of mine, both grown women with children of their own. I spoke about this at length in my post “When Your BFF Becomes A POS.” It was a horrible time of my life, and it feels like I’m reliving it all over again thanks to Donald Trump.

Just last week, an irate Trump supporter on Facebook wished me some horrific things–including rape– in a comment thread. Now, I’ve gotten into some political jousting on social media before, but suggesting physical harm because I disagree with you is taking it to a whole other disturbing level.

Trump’s habit of demonizing people because of their race, religion, gender, profession, and appearance, is hitting a very sensitive spot for me. Whenever he humiliates and shames, it’s like he’s doing it to me personally. Whenever he hurls an insult or demeans someone, my heart hurts a little.

Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, women, minorities, POWs, and the disabled, I feel their pain too.

Trump’s mean-spirited tweets and inflammatory language are triggering a trauma in me I thought was healed, but unfortunately, the wound is still open and the pain is very real.

Worst of all, Trump is inciting a mindset in his supporters that feels like a collective threat to my soul. They remind me of an angry mob with pitchforks and torches, but instead of marauding through towns, they hide behind computers trying to destroy you with their words.

I’m not the only one affected by the Trump Effect. There’s scores of people–young and old– who’ve been threatened and harassed by haters, internet trolls, and online bullies.

Female Reporters

When Donald Trump suggested that Fox News moderator Megyn Kelly might have been on her period because she was tough on him during a debate, his supporters jumped all over her with an avalanche of online hatred. They called her every name in the book including “bitch, slut, whore,” amongst other things.

Olivia Nuzzi, a reporter with the Daily Beast, knows a thing or two about online bullying too. After she posted a story on Marla Maples on Facebook, Mike Krawitz, a Trump supporter and Republican candidate for the West Deptford New Jersey, township committee, wrote this on her page: “Fuck. You. Olivia, I. Hope. Somebody. Rapes. You. Today.”

Jewish Journalists

When Observer writer Dana Schwartz complained about Donald Trump’s tweeted image of Hillary Clinton in front of raining money with a six-sided star, declaring she’s the “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” she had no idea the shit storm of anti-Semitic abuse she would get. His supporters attacked her with hundreds of tweets that ranged from mocking her nose, to applauding the Holocaust.

Jewish political reporters who cover Trump, say they are regularly subject to anti-Semitic harassment by Trump fans online.

Just ask journalist Julia Ioffe. After she published a profile of Donald Trump’s wife Melania earlier this year, she was inundated with angry, anti-Jewish tweets, emails, and even death threats.

People of Color

When Fox News reported that President Obama’s daughter Malia had elected to attend Harvard University after taking a year off, it didn’t go unnoticed by their readers. The comments were so racist, Fox News had to shut down the comments section on their website. Here’s an example:

“Probably staying out for a year so she can help her parents carry out the furniture and dinnerware when they leave the White House.”

And that was one of the nicer things.

After Donald Trump won the Nevada Republican primary, Huffington Post civil rights reporter Julia Craven tweeted her concerns about the possibility of a Trump presidency:

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In response, Craven was unexpectedly hit by a full wrath of hate like this:

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So How Do You Deal With Bullies?

In my case, because the harassment was so extreme, I had to hire a lawyer. The situation was eventually resolved, and the truth became clear: bullies are really just insecure cowards.

As for the Facebook bully from last week, he ended up apologizing to me after being reported by friends and others who were also offended by his comments.

The bullying may be over for me, but I worry about the rest of our country. I want to believe the “Trump Effect” is just a passing fad; I want to believe that civility and kindness aren’t things of the past, and that bad behavior is not the new normal.

Regardless of what happens on November 8th, we must make sure that bullying never wins.

 

To find out more about how you can fight bullying, please visit:

http://beyondbullies.org

https://www.stopbullying.gov

http://www.championsagainstbullying.com

When Your B.F.F. Turns Into A P.O.S.

shutterstock_114278899 copyThere are friend breakups, and then there are friend blowups. You know the kind: a falling out with a friend that turns into a spectacular flameout of epic proportions, complete with bad-mouthing and betrayal. A friendship can blow up over something as simple as a little misunderstanding, to some deep seeded jealousy and resentment. As a result, a civilized parting of the ways quickly escalates into something so vicious and unrecognizable, it takes your breath away, not to mention a part of your soul.

Somehow, the person you thought was your B.F.F.* suddenly becomes a P.O.S.*

Been there, felt that. Ouch.

I’m sad to report that even the greatest friendships end. Even the ones you thought were rock solid and iron clad; with history and memories, unconditional love and support. A B.F.F. breakup can be worse than a boy breakup: it creates the same kind of pain, rejection and abandonment, but it leaves a bigger hole in your heart. My friend and fellow blogger, Helene Cohen Bludman describes it as “her other ex.”

It kills you, but you let go, mourn quietly, move on gracefully, and try to find peace and forgiveness – with your ex-pal and with yourself.

That’s what used to happen when I was younger; but something happened when I got into adulthood: friend breakups started getting ugly.

I managed to get through my school years without being bullied. Unfortunately now with digital communication and social media, people are fair game for the worst kind of post-friendship fallout. Former friends can hurl all kinds of vitriol at you while they hide behind their smart phones and computers, harming you with emails, texts, and Facebook posts.

Welcome to adult bullying, where mean girls are now grown women. Don’t believe me? Do a Google search – there are over 15, 500,000 listings about women who’ve been shamed, intimidated, and threatened by other women.

10734110_744246158964217_3438436236814293575_nIf you haven’t noticed lately, fighting with friends in the 21st century has gotten a lot nastier.

I have this theory that as women get into their late 40s and early 50s, things change: life, hormones, aging, midlife, money, relationships, whatever. As it all starts catching up with you, the next thing you know, you’re bitter. And angry. Life isn’t fair and you’re pissed.

Yeah, been there, felt that too, but I continue to fight it and right it every step of the way because it’s very easy to dump one’s emotional baggage onto a friendship and screw it all up.

So what do you do when your bestie becomes a bitch and your breakup becomes F.U.B.A.R.?*

Damage control.

Ask yourself: “What was my part in it?”

Were you insensitive, uncaring or not thinking? If you made a mistake, used bad judgment, or did something hurtful to a friend, do some soul searching. Reflecting on the error of your ways can bring much needed insight and thoughtfulness to the situation.

Make amends.

The fastest way to stop a friendship from derailing is saying “I’m sorry.” Take responsibility for your part. Even if you think your friend is being irrational or oversensitive, don’t invalidate their feelings or get defensive. Take the high road and be the bigger person. Conversely, if YOU’VE been wronged, accept their apologies, and quickly get back to the business of being friends.

Let go.

If you’ve apologized like hell and there are still hard feelings, then it’s time to walk away. Don’t hold grudges, don’t grovel, don’t wait. Just send your ex-friend off with love and move forward with the friends you already have – just like my wise friend Karen does:

“I don’t get mad, I don’t get even, I don’t cross you off my list. I don’t give it energy. I just make the decision to walk away, and I don’t look back.”

And when all else fails:

Assume the position and prepare for impact.

Still hoping for a peaceful resolution? Sorry, but you’re S.O.L.* The shit is about to hit the fan, so take cover. Gossip, taking sides, whisper campaigns, and breaching of confidences are just the beginning; and if it doesn’t end, you might have to hire a lawyer like I did.

No, you’re not in high school, but you’ll sure feel like it.

Here’s the good news though: there are still some of us out there who are mature adults. We’re reasonable, level-headed, and we don’t let a little tiff fuck up a perfectly good friendship. We talk things out, we don’t fight dirty, and we get past our problems unscathed.

shutterstock_226520419In other words, we know how to K.A.M.U. (Kiss And Make-Up).

 

*B.F.F. – Best Friend Forever

*P.O.S. – A Piece Of Shit

*F.U.B.A.R. – Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition

*S.O.L. – Shit Out Of Luck