What An Unkind Email Can Do

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 A blog by FOX 4 reporter Katie Ferrell

I’ll never forget that first nasty e-mail. It was my first job in TV news. I was young, excited, energized and passionate about being a reporter and anchor for a small Nebraska television station. I was over-the-moon to have a job in television- I was living my dream! And, then I got the e-mail.

It had been sent to our station news account. My producer at the time- young and possibly a little naive, never considered that it might hurt my feelings. She announced it to the newsroom and forwarded it to my inbox. It was horrible, angry, condescending and mean. It said I was terrible, unprofessional. The viewer said they couldn’t watch me, that I didn’t belong on TV. I was embarassed and what haunts me today is that at the time I believed that person. I considered leaving the business. And, I spiraled into one of the deepest depressions I’ve ever known. For three weeks I could barely get out of bed and then I decided I had a choice- I chose to believe in myself. And, to concentrate on getting better instead of believing the hateful words of one.

What bothers me is that so many people young and old get hateful comments at school, at work, online and they too often believe the hurtful things being said about them. Sadly, I think in some cases this shapes their beliefs about themselves for the rest of their lives. And to me, that is wrong.

I chose this topic to write about after watching that viral video making its rounds online from a television anchor in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She too got a nasty e-mail that changed her world, but she talked back. She was called fat and a bad role model because of her weight. To me, she has become an inspiration.

Watching her video I became emotional. She had the courage to do what I couldn’t do then. She called that viewer a bully. I never thought about it like that. I don’t know if I go as far as to call the man who wrote an e-mail a bully, but I do think it’s a reminder that words hurt- no matter what form they come in. I think if we all stopped to remember that a human being is on the receiving end- a person with feelings, friends, family and personal problems of their own, we may all be a little more sensitive. We all deserve to feel good about ourselves. It starts with maybe not pressing the ‘send’ button and ends with us all having a little more courage to stand up for ourselves when someone does.

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