Category: Life Skills
Published on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 00:00
Recently there was a conflagration online over what seemed to be a simple matter. No, I'm not talking about the Messiah hacking government linked websites. Although the hacking incidents have largely overshadowed this matter that alluding to and thus helped obscure the public's attention over it.
I'm talking about bullying or rather cyberbullying that happened on facebook last week.
The gist of what happened was that a local undergrad blogger had written a blog post of which some of her other cohorts within civil society had taken umbrage with.
Her detractors felt that the blogger had written something trite and posted it on their facebook, repeatedly and very publicly mocking her and denigrated her by calling her a bimbo.
Her tormentor's friends not only did nothing to make him stop the public humiliation that he had heaped upon the blogger, they came out and defended his actions, by explaining that the tormentor was a nice person and would never bully anyone.
One of them even came out and gave a long speech about how they were had a right to be obnoxious because they were exercising their right to freedom of speech.
The entire affair was disgusting to watch. But the saddest part of the matter was that this bloggger, her tormentor and the people involved all belonged to the same civil society group that had protested the G's move to require that news websites be licensed.
The tormentor and his friends were so filled with cognitive dissonance that they failed to realize that their actions were proving the G right. That the Singaporean netscape was full of ugly people who bully others without remorse. The tormentor and his friends stood by the rationalization that the blogger was a public figure and therefore was fair game for public mocking.
They were wrong. They failed to realize that their actions could have led the blogger to feel hurt, angry, helpless, and isolated. It never occurred to them that their name calling was designed to torment and denigrate another human being.
Some of them even claimed she was asking to be bullied because she had made self deprecating jokes in the past. Will they ever see the error of their ways? Probably not because their massive egos wouldn't let them.
There is no proper closure to this anecdote because it is rare to get definitive closure in real life, and the matter is still ongoing. But here are some tips on what you can do to cope if you are a victim of cyberbullying yourself:
If you are targeted by cyberbullies, it's important not to respond to any messages or posts written about you, no matter how hurtful or untrue. Responding will only make the situation worse and provoking a reaction from you is exactly what the cyberbullies want, so don't give them the satisfaction. Don't feed the troll is the wisest advice you can ever heed.
It's also very important that you don't seek revenge on a cyberbully by becoming a cyberbully yourself. Again, it will only make the problem worse and could result in serious legal consequences for you. If you wouldn't say it in person, don't say it online. Otherwise you end up perpetuating a vicious cycle. Don't let your bully's hatred consume you and turn you into the very thing that was victimizing you.
Instead, respond to cyberbullying by:
- Save the evidence of the cyberbullying: keep abusive text messages or a screenshot of a webpage, for example, and then report them to a trusted adult or authority figure, such as a family member, teacher, or school counselor. If you don't report incidents, the cyberbully will often become more aggressive because he thinks he can get away with his behavior.
- Reporting threats of harm and inappropriate sexual messages to the police. In many cases, the cyberbully's actions can be prosecuted by law. Criminal intimidation is a crime.
- Being relentless: Cyberbullying is rarely limited to one or two incidents. It's far more likely to be a sustained attack on you over a period of time. So, like the cyberbully, you may have to be relentless and keep reporting each and every bullying incident until it stops. There is no reason for you to ever put up with cyberbullying. Never ever get the idea in your mind that you deserve to be bullied.
- Preventing communication from the cyberbully, by blocking their email address, cell phone number, and deleting them from social media contacts. Report their activities to their internet service provider (ISP) or to any web sites they use to target you. If you're being bullied on Facebook, report them to Facebook admin. Facebook takes a 0 tolerance approach to bullying and will take steps to help you.
If you are being cyberbullied, remember:
- Don't blame yourself. It is not your fault. No matter what a cyberbully says or does, you should not be ashamed of who you are or what you feel. The cyberbully is the person with the deep seated psychological problem, not you.
- Try to look at the cyberbullying from a different perspective. The cyberbully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. They often are the ones with low self esteem and are deeply unsatisfied with their own lives and so feel that they have a right to make others as miserable as they are. Don't give them the satisfaction. Stay positive no matter what.
- Don't beat yourself up. Don't make a cyberbullying incident worse by dwelling on it or reading the message over and over. Instead, delete any cyberbullying messages and focus on positive experiences. Be proud of your own milestones and achievements, no one can take them away from you.
- Get help. Talk to a parent, teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult. Seeing a counselor does not mean there is something wrong with you. Talk to your friends and family and lean on them for support. Remember it does get better. Find support from people who do not engage in antisocial behavior.
- Learn to deal with stress. Finding ways to relieve stress can make you more resilient so you won't feel overwhelmed by cyberbullying. Exercise, meditation, positive self-talk, muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises are all good ways to manage the stress from cyberbullying.
- Spend time doing things you enjoy. The more time you spend with activities that bring you pleasure—sports, hobbies, hanging out with friends who don't participate in cyberbullying, for example—the less significance cyberbullying will have on your life. Never let the bully in your life stop you from living your life.