Cyber bullying - have you been affected?

We had a really nice day yesterday. I got a lot of work done, then we had a lovely lunch with lovely friends before coming home to watch a great film in front of the fire. So I was pretty chilled by the time we went to bed. James was busy checking a last few things on the laptop when I heard a sigh. ‘What is it?’ I asked. ‘Oh just someone having a go at me on the internet’ he replied, ‘forget about it.’
But I didn’t. I had a look and was pretty shocked to read this:

“Ive [sic] been reading your nonsense James Higginson for some time on here but since your comments on prostrate [sic] cancer and how you thought it was an old “gits” disease really pissed me off I thought I would see what you are about and discovered you are nothing. Have you ever created anything,wrote a poem done anything artistic, even tried to be a human being. You have done nothing,even your Facebook picture is you greeting yourself, the only guilt I feel is I could be the only one who has replied to you. I now resign from English speakers in Brittany because it is a complete farce.”

Since we started Survive France in 2009, we’ve developed pretty thick skins. You have to. We’ve had all kinds of abuse and threats hurled at us. Most of it is so out there in ‘la la land’ that it’s really quite funny. My personal favorite is the lady who threatened to ‘tell the CIA’ (I’m still not sure what?) and there have been many other gems.

I would put this recent comment into the same category. For starters, the post about prostate cancer wasn’t actually written by James. It was another SF member. Secondly, had the author put more effort into his research, he’d have discovered that James is actually a very talented (and artistic!) photographer. And thirdly James is the most human of human beings. He’s actually one of the nicest, kindest and best people I know. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I? I am slightly biased.

However, this kind of behaviour is just not funny. It’s bullying. And had it been directed at someone else, maybe someone who hadn’t had a great day, didn’t have a supportive partner and couldn’t laugh it off, maybe the outcome would have been much darker.

Online bullying is one of the reasons we launched Survive France. We were sick and tired of reading forum posts where people seemed to think it was ok to launch the most personal of attacks from the safety of their keyboard. And I guarantee that none of these keyboard warriors would ever say anything similar to someone’s face.

People seem to be getting ruder by the day. I don’t think it’s necessarily a generational thing as some of the worst offenders seem to be older people. But I do wonder if the internet isn’t largely to blame? Or is this too simplistic? What do you think?


In light of his personal attack on me last night (via one of our Facebook public groups) and as he left the group before I had a chance to respond, I have invited him to participate in this discussion.

I think that anyone running a group or a forum is likely to get in the firing line for bullying comments. Often you can put it down to someone having a bad day and something in a post triggered their venomous outburst. That’s no excuse, of course, and if they aren’t prepared to apologise, then they should no longer have the privilege of contributing to further discussions.
During the recent Labour leadership election in the UK, I was quite shocked by the appalling language and the way that individuals were publicly castigated for holding particular viewpoints, on various social media platforms. It does seem to be a trend and maybe people think it is clever and brave to use foul language and come up with disgusting analogies for the people who have the affront to disagree with them.
All we can do is lead by example, not rise to the bait, report them where possible and if in an admin role, set the rules for polite discourse.
Reminds me of this “We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars” Oscar Wilde


The person who has never attracted the attention of trolls like this is a rarity. The worst seem to be American - perhaps because a small percentage is still a big number out of 350 million - but you’re right, it is happening here a lot now, especially since June 23rd, when the fosse was stirred up and all the **** floated to the surface.

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… but not part of that small percentage! :slight_smile:

Wow! There are some emotions running hot on here!

Be assured, Catherine and James, that the work you do on SFN is valued.

Your successful life experiences both on- and off-line will - in the end - give you the confidence to know that this tiny little experience is not worthy of your emotion, confrontation, stress or time to respond.

As we all progress up the ladder of life, the greater the seat of our pants is therefore displayed and the more potentially irrational, rabid dogs there are, wanting to take a chunk out of it! (An adaptation of a quote I once heard my parents repeat).

Give this the value it deserves - move on! :o)


Why’s that?

Can we have a photo of your lovely self please Trisha? (Gorgeous dog btw!) - thanks! X

Back in the old days when we pottered off to the pub for a night out or had some friends round for a drink people used to sit in a group having face to face conversation. Now we all know that not everyone agrees with everything that everyone says, but when one is out in public people are able to disagree and have a constructive, or sometimes destructive, discusion with witnesses who all put in their two penny worth into the taking one side or the other. Now these conversations take place miles apart through a 3rd party, the internet, and there is no immediacy or group element to control the bullying or loud element of a group.
I constantly have this conversation with my children and they tell me that they do have group chat and it is fairly immediate. I disagree as even though they have group chats they will usually be with friends. It creates more of a telephone conversation format rather than what it is actually used for these days which is in fact a pseudo, social, real life environment. The written word can be misinterpreted by the reader. People do not take enough time to think about what they say or how they say it to avoid pain to another, in addition they cannot see or interpret physical traits that may prevent them saying these things.
I find it all very sad and wish that more open discussion would happen between parents and children (of all ages and eras) to enable them to appreciate and use a forum which can be extremely fun and entertaining. It is possible to disagree with people politely and with respect for one anothers position it just takes more thought and self control, something not often found in the loudest member of a group. A few more pleases and thankyou and sorrys on line would be nice too.
Onward and upward James and Catharine. :slight_smile:


Time for me to be totally honest!
There is nothing much worse than be bullied on line!
Worse than a huge bill from RSI which is completely unjustified.
Sept three years ago …I believe I suddenly received an unjustified attack
on my integrity and I felt very vunerable.
The attack was on here!
Since that time I have not felt so comfortable on this site and I had
noticed another person had began to make many negative remarks…
very sharp and accidic .

Catherine and James it really is not very pleasant.
Why do people engage in such odd expressions of instability ?

Barbara - we went through all this three years ago and as the person you accused of ‘bullying’ you is no longer a regular poster on SF, I am not prepared to have you drag this up again. I hope you understand.

Hi @cat and @james It was me who posted the prostate cancer discussion and referred to ‘old gits’ so maybe your troll meant to take me on?? Happy for him (it?) to try - won’t be the first!! Sticks and stones etc etc…:grin:


Yes I do understand but I am replying to a post and want to explain that
the experience stays with you!
But ok lets move on …

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I think it is particularly difficult for young people whose social life is so invested in social networks, there’s simply no respite, no cooling off, quite the reverse in fact. And the worst thing about cyber-bullying whatever age the victim may be, is that it is an intrusion via a screen into personal space where people feel safe ie their home. I am fairly sure it is a délit and that if you contact the police or the gendarmes because you are the target of cyber-bullying, they do take it seriously.

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I don’t think anyone needs to do anything but ignore that sort of nasty semi-literate twaddle. Have you wrote a poem indeed, pfffffff

Bullying, hate mail, even one woman who has never even met me calling me a theif, scam artist etc to the extent an unregistered (but now registered) charity banned me from makng donations. People can be downright evil, but you have to rise above them. Also note for those that didnt know, Any slander/hate/bullying etc written on the internet or in private PM’s is considered in a public domain. So think before you type those vile words, because the victim has a period of 10 years from discovery to take a claim to court, and yes they are listened to, I should know I have succcesfully won one out of court. My legal advisors want me to progress with a second, but as the haters have calmed down it is on hold.


The thing to remember about this sort of stuff is that it is a form of bullying, just as in school. I used to run a school and as part of our anti-bullying policy we had the slogan “In this school we are not impressed by bullies, we feel sorry for them”. This guy is obviously in a sad place…


hmmm, I was on a Facebook group where the Referendum was being discussed and, as one of the few ‘Leavers’ (yes, please don’t let’s get sidetracked by that!) I gave my point of view and reasons and had interesting conversations with people with different opinions. So I thought. Until the day after the vote when I had several anonymous messages, one of which said that they wanted to punch me in the face! Well, if anybody said that to one’s face then it would be an entirely different kind of confrontation wouldn’t it, but using Fbook and several hundred miles of distance means one can say anything they want. A friend’s daughter goes on a site where teenagers can ask other anonymous teenagers things … and of course if your face doesn’t fit or you don’t like the same pop music then the virtual community can gang up on you and make life hell. Suggesting that she doesn’t frequent this site hasn’t worked, it’s essential for her generation to be on line and she’s taking it really badly. Guess it’s the old thing about being brave enough to shout it from a safe distance but not to one’s face …


Can you contact others anonymously on Facebook?

No you can’t @Aquitaine why do you ask?