‘We focus so much on our differences, and that is creating, I think, a lot of chaos and negativity and bullying in the world. And I think if everybody focused on what we all have in common – which is – we all want to be happy’ – Ellen DeGeneres
I think bullying is something that’s become a little too ingrained into our daily lives over the years, even if we don’t really realise it. Think about it, all comedy, more often than not is to laugh at someone else’s expense. We exclude people, talk about them behind their backs and victimise on a daily basis and pass it off as banter.
I was picked on a lot at school, because I was chubby, or spoke with a funny accent or wore trainers from C&A rather than the latest British Knights (as were the style at the time) and even throughout my 20s I experienced bullying in terms of exclusion and cliquey or jealous behaviour. One thing I am thankful for however though is that we never had social media when we were at school. People fond ways to insult me or tease me enough as it was without having to worry about who just unfollowed me on Instagram.
I met Maxine just over a year ago on my cousin Liz’s hen do in Newquay and we got on instantly, we chatted for ages walking to the beach about jobs, husbands, music, working in Disney (her, not me!) and our impending surfing lesson. So when I found out about what happened when he garden fence was graffitied I knew I had to have a chat with her about it and ask if I could share her story.
Maxine was shocked when she found out that someone had written ‘XX is a slag’ on the back of her fence. She removed it straight away but it upset her that her and Adam’s home was being used as a canvas to bully someone. So she decided to take matters into her own hands.
If people wanted to graffiti their fence, they were quite welcome to, but only with words of love, positivity and encouragement. Over the days that followed, as as word got around the area, the fence began to fill up with happy, lovely words; most of them appearing to have been written by children, which makes the story even more touching. After all, i think it’s safe to assume whoever wrote the original message probably wasn’t an adult.
Max told me:
I’d really love to see the fence grow into fully fledged community art. The best part of this whole thing has been the girl and her parents getting in touch to say thank you and they are so chuffed something positive has come out of it. We must have about 30 messages now. I just hope the ink is permanent enough to stand the rain!
I said earlier that I am so pleased that social media wasn’t around when I was at school and I stand by that. As much as it can be used for bullying however, so can it be used for good and as word get around abut the fence, I hope it continues to grow and flourish.
With cyber bullying rates and teenage suicides at an all time high, I really hope the people who wrote that nasty hateful comment have learnt their lesson from this and will think twice about how damaging words can be. And if more people encouraged the spread of hope and kindness the world would be a much nicer place.
Follow the No Offence Fence on Instagram here