British Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington is swearing off Twitter during this year's London Olympics because she “doesn't need the stress” of people who post rude, insensitive, or cyberbullying comments.
In her own words, Adlington describes how “most things that I read about myself are not swimming related. They are to do with how I look, which has nothing to do with my performance in the pool.”
She enjoys the supportive messages, but the inevitable odd comments makes the whole Twitter scene not worth it for her when she needs to focus 100% on her swimming in the Olympic games.
Adlington's comments highlight the need for unplugging from the computer (or smartphone, or iPad, or whatever) and taking a break from social networking when you start to feel stressed about cyberbullying. That's a good back-to-school lesson for many of our kids.
Her comments also raise the concern that everyone seems to think that it's all about looks for women. Not just in sports, but everywhere. How many times did I have to hear about the “Sarah Palin look” when she was campaigning for vice presidency with John McCain in 2008? I still have to figure out what her “look” had to do with anything.
Our girls face a world where they are often told that it is all about looks. Cyberbullied girls are routinely called “fat” or “ugly” as if that is the worst insult that someone can hurl at them. Girls desperate for social approval can start down the slippery slope to sexting because of all the comments they receive on their Facebook photos praising them for how “hot” they are.
What girls can learn from Rebecca Adlington's stance on Twitter is three-fold:
Balance their social networking time with real-life activities and friendships
Don't worry about what others say, especially about your looks, and focus on your own accomplishments in life
Taking a time-out from bullying and choosing to flat-out ignore it is usually the healthiest way to deal with cyberbullying
Like Rebecca Adlington, you don't have to forgo social networking altogether – no one can deny that it opens up new possibilities and has obvious benefits. But if it starts to feel like too much pressure, or if cyberbullies are starting to bother you, it's perfectly okay to take a break.
-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans