Rebecca Marino is just 22, and already has been ranked as the 38th best female player in the world. But the Canadian tennis player announced today that she’s retiring, in part because of the bullying and cruel feedback she’s received through social media.
According to a Yahoo, she cited longtime depression and cyber-bullying as two of the major reasons for her decision:
“My depression came way before the so called cyber-bullying; this has been going on for I would dare say six years,” said Marino.
“I was getting some comments that were really hurtful, as well as some great comments, but the hurtful ones stick with you a bit more.
“I was getting messages that I should die, that I should go burn in hell, that I’m a dumb ass, an idiot, that I lost them money, a wide variety of things and that is just scratching the surface.
“I like to feel I have a thick skin and I can deal with these sort of things so it wasn’t the main factor.
“Social media has taken its toll on me but it is not the main reason … the reason I am stepping back is that I don’t think I’m willing to sacrifice my happiness and other parts of my life to tennis.”
Yahoo’s Shane Bacon sympathizes with her sensitivity to bullying (although he over-exaggerates the role it played in her quitting, waxing poetic about how tough it must be to work hard at your profession only to get threats and name-calling from your Twitter followers:
Anyone in any public position is going to get flak from random people on the Internet (heck, even us writers get hundreds of comments on certain stories calling us out for being “idiots”) and while some people can just brush it off, there is a large group of people that see that stuff and have a hard time looking past it. Imagine if you just lost some big match and the first thing you see is people scolding you and telling you to die?
But in his estimation, this is just the “world we live in”:
It’s almost too easy to get after someone on the Internet these days without any repercussions, and while a lot of people wish there was something that could change this, there simply isn’t.
I don’t think that’s true. There have been several successful anti-bullying campaigns, and while they haven’t eradicated trolls, bigotry, or nasty name-calling on Twitter, I think they’ve served to help remind us all that there actually can be consequences and repercussions to public bullying online.
Just the fact that someone like Marino, who was poised to cimb up the ranks in women’s tennis (and ostensibly earn a lot of money doing so), chose to speak about bullying at all when announcing her resignation is something that could help. The more people admit to the damage that it does in their personal lives–yes, even celebrities and successful athletes–the more chance there is for people to reflect on how their online behavior effects people in real life.
In a press call this morning, Marino explained her tough decision:
After thinking long and hard, I do not have the passion or enjoyment to drive myself to the level I would like to be at in professional tennis.
I have previously been number 38 on the WTA singles rankings so I realise the amount of work and sacrifices that have to be put in and at this point I do not think it is worth sacrificing my happiness.
I feel there is more to life than just tennis.
More power to her, and good on her for admitting to the depression and sensitive reactions to
Photo: Getty Images