The Darkside of Military “Camaraderie”

The article that no one wants to write, but someone needs to say.
Ah, the internet. It’s amazing how it can be such a wonderful place and also the worst place on earth at the same time. It’s a place where we can share information, send cute videos, spread important news, stay connected with friends and family, and fundraise incredible amounts of money that can benefit others. It’s also where we go to help create things we believe in and even save someone’s life. Unfortunately, it can also be the most vile place where darkness lurks in the deep recesses of the worst parts of humanity. “Cyber-bullying” is a term most people are familiar with now; people spewing filth at others for no reason other than sadistic enjoyment. Oftentimes these bullies target complete strangers, operating from the comforts of their own home. Luckily the military family is a disciplined, well-oiled machine, so it doesn’t happen within our tight-knit family. Or does it?
Cyber-bullying itself is pointless and incomprehensible to most, but even more shocking is the depravity we see in our own Military Facebook Groups. These are unofficial Facebook groups founded to provide support to military spouses, veterans, active duty members, etc. and yet many of them are saturated with personal attacks against one another. Instead of building each other up, sharing resources, and teaching each other lessons we’ve learned along the way, people are calling each other names, tearing each other down and humiliating each other. Hurtful slurs are thrown around like candy: ”dependapotamus,” “dependa,” and other insulting and derogatory terms for military spouses, portraying them as lazy, overweight, and just riding the coattails of the military members they married. Instead of supporting each other during times of PCS and deployment, comparisons are made about how each member has “had it worse.” Members are put down for being too “needy” or not taking care of responsibilities at home. Sigh, it’s the dark side of military “camaraderie” that’s for sure.
Tragically, last week reports spread of a young military spouse taking her life as a result of the abrasive and bullying mentality of online Military Spouse communities (Read full article here). THIS IS NOT OK!
This is why communities like PCS Pay-It-Forward are so important. We focus on connection, kinship and encouragement. In this way we put a spotlight on the darkness and negativity in the hopes that it will help lead to the end of it. In January 2020 we launched our #KindnessIsCool campaign as a beacon of hope that the pervasive meanness that has recently torn at the seams of our military community will give way to more kind, emphatic and supportive connectedness. #KindnessIsCool is the embodiment of our beliefs that we are each other’s most valuable resource, and a testament to the kind of special bonds we can have with each other that are completely unique to military families.
So in the face of division, bullying, and name calling we want to remind our military family that there will always be a safe space for support and friendship in our Pay-it-Forward communities. You can find a full list HERE.
As for our fellow veteran and Military Spouse-centric businesses, we want to encourage leaders to stand with us against widespread negativity, unethical behavior, social sabotage, name calling and online bullying by joining our Kindness Coalition. The cannibalistic nature of military-centric businesses has been an unspoken undertow for years. It’s time for us to elevate the level of discourse within our own industry by committing to a new standard. The Kindness Coalition aims to do just this. It is a collective of military-centric businesses and organizations committed to raising the bar for social support and ethics in our communities. We will be featuring participating organizations to our Pay-it-Forward members as we stand in unity for growth and change for our followers.
So let’s keep going and spread the word. Because kindness is, after all, pretty cool.
**If you own or run a military-centric business are interested in joining The Kindness Coalition please message us through our Facebook page for more information.