One of the most disturbing things I’ve seen is the bullying that happens all the time on the internet, from all corners. It’s frustrating and scary: the internet has given me so many opportunities for my writing and at the same time, it has exposed me to horrible and hateful things. In the course of my post-election online activity, I’ve come across this cyber-bullying infecting open discussions of politics. Sometimes it seems like everything is so polarized that I can’t laugh without being accused of having an agenda. And then having my perceived agenda attacked in graphic terms and my actual opinion dismissed out of hand.

Cyber-bullying is bullying and it hurts real people behind the online avatars. It’s easy to attack someone on the internet, to make fun of their deepest beliefs and mock their fears. It’s easy to laugh in triumph while others sob in fear.

But is this who we, all of us, liberals and conservatives alike…is this really who we want to be, a nation of bullies?
The problem, as I see it, is that respect and responsibility were allowed to become partisan issues. Preservation of the environment should not be a party issue. Respect for the dignity of all people should not be a party issue. All of our children will have to live the world we shape right now. They are the ones who will grow up absorbing the sound-bites we throw at each other. I would ask that all of us, Republican and Democrat and everything else between, try to see each other as human beings before we cover faces in masks and replace names with labels.

As a writer, this is both my hardest struggle and my deepest inspiration: who are we behind our masks? What are the names we choose for ourselves beneath the labels we have slapped upon us?

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