Bullying is no doubt a global problem which needs to be addressed at all cost. However, the way people go about bullying has changed. What was once reserved for the schoolyard now occurs at home or at work via social media or basically the internet. We now have an advanced form of bullying- Cyberbullying.
Cleverly hidden in form of a ‘bant’ or ‘savage’, cyberbullying is gradually dominating our internet space. Twitter- the home of cyberbullies. The fear of twitter, they say, is the beginning of wisdom. One cannot share a thought or a picture without fear of being attacked by the faceless warriors of the internet. Nah, I’m sick and tired of this. If you’ve ever made a mean or nasty remark about someone’s feature or picture or mocked anyone because of the way they cannot construct a simple sentence, you are a cyberbully. I don’t care if you do it for fun or for clout or ‘to be savage’, you are pathetic.
Few weeks back, a Nigerian lady on twitter posted a picture of herself with a caption that claims she rejected about 150,000 naira offer from a man to take her on a date because she is not cheap and guess what? The FBIs of twitter examined and analyzed the lady’s picture and singled out her shoes. They dragged her for wearing low quality shoes and told her she would have better use of the money if she had accepted. Nah, they said so many mean stuff about her shoes and mocked her. Oh God! Same human beings that would come out and preach about a woman’s self-worth.
What You Should Understand
You should understand that the Internet makes bullying easy. Way easier than it could ever be. In fact, cyberbullying allows good kids to be mean because, well, it’s faceless. Ah, the power of the screen that separates us from reality.
Cyberbullying has serious consequences and has led thousands of kids to take their life. I don’t even want to start giving examples of the poor kids who have been told to go kill themselves. Sadly, cyberbullying doesn’t affect kids alone. It affects even adults. Some people are more likely to be targeted. That includes those who appear introverted, are perceived as different, or suffer from low self-esteem. These are the set of people cyberbullies prey on.
Being cyberbullied has serious effects. It can foster loneliness and depression, and it has even led some victims to commit suicide. If you are a victim of cyberbullying, you can beat cyberbullies at their own game without reducing your selfworth. First, you want to be certain if you are actually being bullied. Ask yourself ‘Is it really bullying?’ Sometimes people say hurtful things that they don’t truly mean.
If you are certain that you are being cyberbullied, remember this: How you respond can make things get better or worse. Try one or more of the following suggestions.
Ignore the bully.
The primary goal of bullies is to get their targets to lose their cool. When targets lose their cool, they essentially hand over power to the bully. The bottom line: Sometimes the best response is no response. So do not respond to their nasty comments or insults. The popular saying that silence is the best answer for a fool plays a really great role here. Imagine being face to face with someone and you keep talking, trying to get words out of him but he remains mute, you probably would feel ashamed or embarrassed and you would eventually just go away.
The same thing applies to the cyberbullies, do not feed them with what they can use against you. Pretend like you did not see the comments or nasty remarks about you and of course, do not take down the post or picture or whatever it is that sparked the cyberbullies interest.
Resist the urge to retaliate.
Do not pay back injury for injury or insult for insult, says the holy book. This advice works because anger shows weakness, which will encourage more bullying. Retaliation could also make it appear that you are as much a part of the problem as the bully. Don’t add fuel to the fire.
I understand that at that moment, your emotions may want to get the best of you especially when what they’re saying is really hurtful and untrue. Here’s a strategy that can work. Put down your phone for a while till you’re calmer or in a better state of mind. During this time, you can take a walk, get some sleep, watch your favorite tv show, play with your pet, observe nature, anything to take your mind off what is happening.
If you must take action, there are things you can do to stop the bullying—without making the situation worse. First, you can block the person who is sending the messages. What you don’t read can’t hurt you.
Next, save all evidence, even if you do not read it. That includes aggressive text messages, instant messages, e-mails, posts on blogs or social media, voice messages, or any other communication. You can do this easily by screenshotting them.
If they persist, tell the cyberbully to stop. Or you can send a firm but non-emotional message, such as:
“Do not send any more messages.”
“Remove what you have posted.”
“If this does not stop, I will take further steps to ensure that it does.”
That should get them to stop bullying you.
Don’t keep it a secret
It is very important to inform someone about what you are going through. You need to tell someone who will help you. Do not be afraid if they call you a baby or a kid, the truth is that it takes courage to speak up! This could be a parent, a trusted friend, a teacher, or a guidance counsellor.
If you worry if the information you give someone is going to spread to the rest of the world, don’t worry. Your parents will be trustworthy with the info, and so will your teachers- be careful of the teacher you approach though. We know some Nigerian teachers can be so sly. If your friend is really a friend, they won’t spread it around. Guidance counsellors are not legally allowed to give away information, and will keep it confidential. So you are in safe hands and more, you have support from people who care about you.
The point of it all
As long as the internet continues to exist which will be a long time from now, cyberbullies will keep existing. It is up to you to learn how to protect yourself from these meanies out there.
If you are a bully and you are reading this, I sure hope that you find peace and love because what you say about people is a reflection of who you are. How do you sleep at night knowing you’re the cause of someone’s pain?
Any thoughts on how to be protected from cyberbullies?