Mean Girls

Social media has been around for a long time now, but something that feels like it’s more recently become popular are the little subgroups on Facebook where you can interact with complete strangers about some sort of common interest. For example, when I got engaged, I joined some of the wedding planning groups to get advice from other people who were in the same boat as me. I am also in several fan groups for pop culture topics — such as entertainment podcasts or groups that talk primarily about The Bachelor. 

Something I’ve noticed most of these groups all of a sudden have in common, though, is that mean girls are running rampant in these little corners of the Internet. At first, it was really cool to have a place to talk to people from all around the country — or even the world — about something we all had in common. It was fun finding common ground discussing movies and new television shows and how excited we were about Taylor’s next concert. It was entertaining debating whether or not we were excited about having Colton as the next bachelor and listening to each other’s well-thought-out points. This part of the world just felt light and carefree, and was a nice little escape from the more difficult and depressing headlines in the news.

These groups were a safe space to ask for advice on boyfriends, bridal parties, friendship, school, work, and everything in between — until they weren’t. I have read horror stories of people screenshotting pictures of brides’ dresses and sending them to the fiancé that could easily be found by searching her Facebook. The girl who was asking for our opinion on which dress to wear on her wedding day suddenly had her fun surprise ruined, and trust completely violated for absolutely no reason other than someone intentionally being cruel. One girl asked for advice about some issues she had been having with her husband, and a girl from the group screenshotted it and sent it to him. Another girl was going through a breakup and asked for some support, only to find out that a day later one of the girls in the group slid into her ex’s DMs because she thought he was cute. The ex was turned off by the behavior and notified his the original poster, but it’s still so messed up when women do not support other women.

Mean girls apparently exist in our twenties and thirties too, and some people just refuse to grow up. I don’t understand the joy some humans get in hurting other people. It’s twisted, sick, and really really immature. Your brain keeps growing up until you turn 25, and maybe some of that is the empathy part, but these people I see being inexcusably cruel are often fully-developed adults. When you’re a kid and people are mean to you, you figure at least one day you’ll be grown up and all of that will be behind you. Then you go to college and might have a bad roommate or something, but overall have a wonderful experience with the people there. There always seem to be a few people who are just downright mean for sport, though, and the Internet is a place they absolutely thrive. Anonymity is a perfect Cloak of Invisibility for the mean girl, and she wears it everywhere she goes. Whether trolls use fake profiles or merely hide behind their keyboards, they don’t care or even consider the feelings of others.

I have seen girls get attacked for having different opinions or life experiences than others. People fight to the death defending or attacking celebrities that they don’t even know, and then blame others for being unkind or insensitive. People who claim to be trying to make the world a better place by “educating others” are just being flat-out mean, and those who preach tolerance can ironically be some of the least tolerant people because they won’t accept people who think differently than they do. The biggest way to change someone’s mind is to respectfully disagree but still show the person love, even if you don’t agree with their opinion. By having calm discussions and connecting to someone’s heart, it is so much easier to help them realize how they might be wrong. It’s also a great way for you to learn and grow too.

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We know how hard life is already without any unnecessary drama, and yet there are still people who think it’s their job to ruin other people’s days. These groups are filled with moms, nurses, teachers, and everything in between. It’s mind-blowing to me to see people who are this inappropriately mean, and it definitely makes trusting strangers far more difficult. After feeling safe and happily trusting people I didn’t know on the Internet, I no longer have that luxury, thanks to the little groups of mean girls that have ruined it for the rest of us who just wanted to have friends from all around the world. I think the majority of people in these Facebook groups are kind and good people, but the ones who are brutally cruel make it too much of a risk to even post anything in them anymore.

One of the most interesting parts about the Internet bullies on Facebook is that you can see what their personal pages look like. One girl who was using name-calling as a tactic had a profile picture that was captioned with one of Martin Luther King Junior’s most famous quotes about love. Another had a profile picture with her two toddlers. People post inspirational quotes about loving your neighbor, but then go and bully others like it isn’t being hypocritical. It makes absolutely no sense, and I am so tired of people resorting to cruelty instead of just loving one another despite our differences. I also think we are at a time where people do not know how to handle being bored. Instead of doing something productive or creative, people decide to entertain themselves at the expense of others. We not only need to learn how to sit with our thoughts, but it is also more important now than ever to practice self control and think twice about how our words and actions make others feel. Posting an opinion online is easier than ever, which means we can have an enormous impact on others through what we choose to write. I hope that everything takes another turn for the better, but I have a feeling that this is just the beginning of the trolling in what are supposed to be safe spaces on the Internet. All we can do right now is hope for moderators to keep things kind, and be picky about who they accept into these little groups.


Do you think the good that comes from social media outweighs the bad? Have you noticed that things have gotten progressively worse, or is this just something I hadn’t experienced very much until more recently?

#TBT

I’m starting a new #TBT segment every few weeks now because I feel like I have a lot of fun stories to tell from my past.

I want to start off with one of my first hilariously awkward experiences with a guy I met in college.

Let me set the scene.

About a month after I was asked to go to New York for the final callback of America’s Next Top Model I got an email inviting me to a pretty exclusive party in Washington DC. It was one of the judges’ birthdays, and they had decided to air it on The Real Housewives of DC. This was a cool opportunity that I didn’t want to miss out on, so I sent in my RSVP saying that I would be attending, despite not knowing anyone there except the guest of honor.

The party was at a swanky bar in the middle of DC and I convinced my dad to drop me off so I wouldn’t have to worry about finding parking in an unfamiliar area of the city. Frankly I was just nervous that I wouldn’t have the guts to walk into the party unless I had someone there to nudge me through the door.

After a 45 minute drive, we pulled up to the front of the bar and my dad stopped to let me out at the front.

“Nice ride,” joked the bouncer as I timidly walked up to the dimly-lit doorway. He was still chuckling as he looked up my name on the list and grazed over my drivers’ license. In hindsight I was really lucky he let me in — I was only eighteen at the time and they had an open bar.

Once I was inside I felt like I needed to settle in somewhere, but was really overwhelmed by all the glitzy people already there. I skimmed the room and saw sequins, martinis, and models, and felt so out of place. I quickly gathered myself, took a deep breath, and decided I just needed to play the part.

I went downstairs and found my friend Paul. I wished him happy birthday and chatted for a bit, then decided to figure out how adulting really works and meet some new people.

paul

This is where the fun really begins.

I sat at the bar with a glass of sparkling water with a lime (Something I thought could pass for a fancy cocktail — I should’ve just gone with a Shirley Temple) and people-watched until a man in a nice suit approached me.

We got to talking and I found out he was in his mid-thirties — quite a bit older than I was at the time — and that he worked for a real estate company in the city. Our conversation was very bland, but I felt relieved to have someone to visit with, so politely listened and nodded along to his stories.

After a good twenty minutes of conversation we finally got up to go gather for some group photos. That’s when it hit me, all at once.

He asked me for my number.

Now that I’m 25, I realize that if I don’t want to give out my number to someone I can politely decline. I don’t owe the person anything, and it saves both of us time and trouble by just being upfront.

My 18-year-old self thought it would be rude to say no, so I went into panic mode. My mind started racing as I tried to think of what I could say, but before my brain could catch up with my mouth I was already spitting out random numbers. I included a “202” area code, along with 7 other numbers I just came up with on the spot.

“202-412-4809,” I said.

“What was that? Sorry — I missed the last few digits.”

Crap.

“Umm, 202-126-8874.” Was that close to what I just said? I can’t remember. Why wasn’t I paying attention to what I was saying earlier? Think, Krista, think!

He looked at me, perplexed.

“I think I must have misheard you the first time. I apologize, but I still don’t have the right number. Could you repeat it for me one last time?”

My mind went blank. I didn’t know what to do or how to recover from this terrible web of phone number lies. So I did what any goofy teenage girl would do and gave the man my best friends’ phone number. It was one of the few I had memorized and I knew if he asked me for it a million times I would continue to get all 7 numbers right.

He gave me a look like I was crazy, typed the number into his phone, and looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Okay, I texted you.”

Both sets of eyes immediately darted to my phone, which was exposed, face-up on the bar. We waited. And waited and waited.

“You sure you gave me the right number this time?” he asked as he looked at me slyly.

“I must just have bad service in here.”

Gosh, I had such lame excuses. I’m ashamed of 18-year-old Krista’s ability to navigate through uncomfortable situations, but I think I have come a long way from there. Then again, I’m sure 7 years from now I will be blogging about some silly situations I get myself into now. Is there ever a point where people stop making rookie mistakes and can just be a pro at life? I guess that wouldn’t make life very interesting, would it?

Today’s lesson: If you are 16 and under, go ahead and just give your best friend’s phone number to any creeps you meet.* If you’re above 16, just politely tell them that you aren’t interested in exchanging contact information, and leave it at that.

*Kidding. Do the same thing the 16+ people do — you’ll be alright!