When I first made the hesitant decision to turn my life upside down and enter the world of The Bachelor, I knew there would always be some nasty people sharing their thoughts on social media, but never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted the disgraceful level it reached.
I went into that show promising to be true to myself, treat people the way I wish to be treated, stand up for myself, stand up for others, have some fun, and hopefully meet a nice guy. Unfortunately the meeting of the nice guy didn’t happen for me, but the rest of it did. I was true to myself, I was never nasty to anyone, I stood up for myself, I stood up for my friends, and yep, I even had some fun in there! However I was very naive in a lot of ways… It’s not feasible to go into a situation like that, with 19 other women, sharing 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and get along with every single person. There will always be at least one that rubs you up the wrong way, that hurts your feelings, or that annoys the living hell out of you. I would watch most episodes in absolute shock. In some episodes I would be inconsolable afterwards… And that is just based on what I had watched! Then of course I would go online… You know you shouldn’t read it, we were all advised not to read any of it. Did we listen? Of course not… because it is human nature, you want to know what people are saying about you.
Once I started reading the disgusting comments On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I felt sick. How could people view me in such a disgusting light, based on a Reality TV show? I kept asking myself that over and over. I know I am a kind person, I know I never did anything wrong by anyone else in that house. To read such nasty things about myself, absolutely shook me to my core. I started receiving emails from these trolls, telling me that I deserve a man who cheats on me. I don’t deserve any happiness. I am an ugly bitch. One girl even said she hoped I never had children, and if I did she would feel very sorry for them, having an evil person like myself as their mother. I just couldn’t, (and still can’t) comprehend what goes through someone’s head to possess them to type something like that to a perfect stranger, and then actually press send! During the early stages of The Bachelor airing in 2015, I spent 2 weeks at home, where I never left the house. I was actually too scared to go out in public, for fear of someone being cruel to me. Then I realised, online trolls, just like bullies in the school yard, are weak, they are gutless. The thing that differentiates between an online troll and a schoolyard (or workplace) bully, is that the online trolls will never say anything to your face. I have received some comments on my Instagram, where people have called me a bully. There isn’t an ounce of footage where I am bullying anyone, simply because I never did and I never would. The bullies are the people who have sought me out on Instagram, purely to attack me and try to hurt me. The thing that was probably making me the most angry was myself… I was so angry with myself for even caring. For giving the trolls what they wanted. Why did I care what the ignorant opinion was of a total stranger? Of a nasty cyber troll? I knew what they were saying wasn’t true, my family and friends knew it wasn’t true, so why did I care? Because I am human. A very sensitive, emotional human.
I was tormented relentlessly at high school, and some in primary school. I had a girl knock me unconscious, because she wanted to “punch my pretty face in”. I had a girl in year 9, a week into starting at a new school, run up behind me and slap me across the face, because her boyfriend said I had “nice eyes”. That was my fault apparently. I have been bullied by older women in multiple workplaces. I know all too well what a bully is, and I am the farthest thing from one. I actually feel so angry just writing this post… Thinking about what I have gone through, all because of other people’s insecurities. People need to stop and think before they speak. You can think whatever you like about someone, judge them if you must, but never post in a public forum.
People have said to me on my Instagram, that I have to expect to receive these comments and emails, because I put myself in that position. Actually, I put myself in the position to potentially meet a guy, go on some fun dates, meet some nice girls and have a once in a lifetime experience. At least that’s what I thought I was signing up for… People refer to some of us girls as “celebrities” now, and that apparently trolling is part and parcel of that… but why is it? Why do people feel that anyone who is even slightly in the limelight, deserves to be trolled? Deserve to have the general public pick them apart? It is never ok to do that to anyone, regardless of their celebrity status. We all have feelings too… We are not immune from it. Thankfully for myself, I have finally learnt (for the most part), to laugh at the trolls. They don’t know me, they are probably very unhappy within their own lives, which is why they feel the need to attack people they don’t even know. Frighteningly so, I’ve noticed that a lot of them are children, young teenagers, which makes me wonder how many of their peer’s lives are they making unbearable? I’ve been knocked down so many times during my life, that no matter how hard it is, I know I will always bounce back… might take some time, but I get there eventually. But what about the people that aren’t that strong? The people who eventually crumble under the pressure? Look at Charlotte Dawson. She came across as such a strong woman, but sadly she wasn’t coping and decided to end her life. This bullying needs to stop.
I became an ambassador for Bully Zero Australia, after the online abuse I received in 2015. After the pain I went through in high school and some workplaces, at the hands of bullies, I feel I can help the youth of today who are currently going through what I went through, as well as hopefully making the bullies understand that their behaviour can cause irreversible damage.
Trolling is a criminal act. It is harassment. It puts people’s lives at risk. People need to really stop and think before typing and pressing send.
- Emily Simms