I have put off talking about this subject for sometime, but it is important to me to use the audience that I have to speak out against cyberbullying. It is a huge problem that is growing larger and larger by the second. As the world becomes more dependent on mobile phones and social media taking up a big chunk of our day, cyberbullying has become a serious issue. Serious enough that some teens have committed suicide and that more people with a large platform should speak out about this issue.
Personally, I have been dealing with this for years and it was tough at the beginning to wrap my mind around strangers being verbally cruel to someone they do not even know. It affected me so much that I shut down two different Instagram accounts and disabled my Twitter and Facebook many times. However, the cheap shots and low blows still found their ways to me. Friends would send me links of articles on gossip sites written about me without thinking how much they might upset me. It was a pretty low time in my life because the person that I was being portrayed as on these trash sites, such as thedirty.com, was in no way a reflection on who I am as a person. It affected me, my family and even my friends and it was then that I realized that by hiding away from the world, I was actually letting the bullies win. That is when I realized the best thing I could do is to live my life and to be the person whom my friends and family know and love and not pay attention to the garbage thrown my way.
But I realize that not everyone’s experience with this topic is similar and maybe some do not have the willpower or support systems I have had to rise above it all. That is why I wanted to write this article and let others know that they are not alone and to the bullies that it is not okay. Maybe this article will fall on deaf ears but if I can reach one person, then it is worth taking the time to write it.
I have spoken to many people in my life about their thoughts and experiences with cyberbullying and the response I received was in most ways unanimous. It is a huge problem that is not getting enough focus.
One reason that there has been such a rise in Internet bullying is social media. It gives every angry person out there an outlet to take out their frustration on someone else without much repercussion. But what they don’t understand is that the repercussions exist. They are not there to see someone’s smile turn upside down when they read a rude comment on a picture or watch someone’s heart sink when they read a negative article written about them. The negative effects are there and I think the psychological scars that are left from cyberbullying are worse then getting a broken arm or a black eye in a fight. Those comments stay with you sometimes and creep out at your lowest moments.
I know some people may think I am giving the bullies so much power writing these opinions, but I want people to understand that words are more hurtful at times than most physical pain. The world have become more and more vain by the year, with the Kardashians’ youngest members getting plastic surgery on a whim and picture “likes” deciding popularity status in schools. Most of the people who have been successful and influential figures in our world today were not cool in school, and many of them were picked on. That only led them later in life not to back down when the odds were against them or when they got rejection thrown their way. But what happens now when kids get cell phones at an increasingly younger age? They don’t have the mental maturity level to digest rationally a rude comment and to come out on the other side unaffected. That is part of the reason that we see such an increase in suicide rates, especially among teens. It is such a shame! No parent should have to bury a child and all over hurtful words. It’s truly unbelievable. We have to teach kids the power of words and acceptance for one another. We should learn from those that are different from us, not mock them.
Bullies often reveal their insecurities via hurtful words. I have never met a happy, content individual who would say negative remarks about a complete stranger. What would they have to gain from that behavior? It would only lower their spirits because unless you are a sadistic individual, you will feel remorse when hurting others. Everyone has their moments when they are upset with the world and they want to bring someone else down to their level so they can stew in misery together but we need to push through that human fallibility or go take a nap. IT IS NOT OK! Most of the cyberbullying I have seen is so off-base and often wrongly placed insecurities. People make assumptions without knowing the full story and 95% of the time they are dead wrong.
I now find humor in the comments left on my social media posts because it is hilarious how wrong people can be but I am constantly surpassed at the meanness level. It just needs to stop! If someone’s posts or personality makes you angry, don’t follow them. I know I only follow accounts that creative positive vibes in my daily life. There are so many negative things in the world, why add one more intentionally. Follow people that inspire you and push you to be a better person in one way or another and if that doesn’t work then follow the golden rule, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”
Recently, celebrities have been speaking out against cyberbullies and I hope more people bring attention to this ever growing problem. Gigi Hadid recently spoke out about the negativity she was getting on social media. “So many people are so quick to comment negative opinions this month. Yes, judgment on social media comes from people who, 99% of the time, have no idea what they’re talking about, but I’m human, and I’m not going to lie, I did let the negativity get to me a little…I came to a realization that when one gets to this point, it’s important to rethink why you’re doing what you do. What your message is. What you have to say.”
There are even programs out there such as STOMP Out Bullying, a national anti-bullying and cyberbullying program for kids and teens, is a signature program of Love Our Children USA, the national nonprofit leader in fighting violence against children since 1999. Created in 2005, STOMP Out Bullying focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country.
I have no doubt, as phones and social media intrude into our daily lives more and more, people will focus on cyberbullying but until then, people with large audiences should speak out every chance they get.