Rebecca Marino took a break from her World Tennis Association career not because of the usual injuries that tennis imposes on a pro athlete.
But because of bulling from fans.
Marino was a rising star in tennis with an overpowering serve and a wicked forehand. She climbed from a 192 ranking a year earlier to 38 seed by July of 2011.
But her quick ascent to stardom hit a bump in the road when Marino became the butt of cruel online and social media criticism from so-called fans.
Marino herself became addicted — not to drugs or alcohol — but to checking social media to see what harsh things these bullying fans were saying about her. Finally, last February she took 7 months off from the sport she was so good at to deal with the insecurities she acquired from people she didn’t even know.
Bullying is nothing new but because of social media and the ability of anyone anywhere to hurl hurtful comments at others, it is now an epidemic. What’s worse, the bullying that used to be confined to the schoolyard or to a relationship is now open for the whole world to see.
Rebecca Marino is now back on the tennis tour but still sensitive about what is said about her. She’s got all she can do to keep away from the criticism that is still out there on social media. She has even returned to Twitter cautiously since giving it up during her time off.
Bullying stops when we say “no more”.
The push back doesn’t have to be physical, but it has to be forceful. Take control of your life and don’t let anyone record hurtful messages in your psyche.
I just picture a digital chip implanted in my forehead as a visual reminder to not let anyone record negative messages in my brain.
Marino’s advice on bullying:
“Don’t be afraid of the stigma of it, and talk about it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. If you’re bullied or cyberbullied, or someone’s harassing you, it’s better to be open about it and talk to someone about it than to hold it inside.”
“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sandpaper. They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless.” — Chris Colfer