So today I was supposed to do a follow up to yesterday's post featuring my roommates. But I want to talk about something else instead and I want to start this off cara a cara (face to face).
Before We Begin...
Cyberbullying is a serious thing and it happens to a lot of people. I never, though, thought it could or would happen to me. I'm not saying this because I think I'm special; I'm saying this because I want to put it out there that the fact that it's randomly happening to me means that there is no doubt in my mind that it could happen to anyone. So if you feel like you're being victimized, know that I believe you. If you feel like you're being put down, know that there are others who are feeling the exact same way.
And this speel isn't just for those of us on the "victim" end. It's for people who may be on the "bully" end, too. Maybe you don't realize you're doing it... Maybe you don't know how much it hurts... But it does. And this post isn't going to console you. My hopes are that if you continue to read this, you'll be convicted to change the way you treat others online. Because imagine yourself on the other end. It doesn't feel good, and I hope that by the end of this, you'll see why.
I don't curse and I'm not trying to make anyone feel uncomfortable. So these are the words you'll see mostly in this post: attack, attacker, bullying, bully, and victim. These are strong, serious words, but cyberbullying is a serious offense. So let's get real, okay? And let's help each other be better people who can handle themselves in better ways.
I'm on a website.
Someone doesn't like what I say.
They take offense to it without letting me know they're offended.
They start talking about me on other social networks.
Their friends start hating me.
They feel justified in hating me.
The talking continues.
It's brought back to the original website.
There is a bang.
Without justifying the situation or the actions taken by both parties, I try to stop it.
Others intervene and the situation escalates.
Now, apologies for whatever it is I've done wrong (which I still don't know. STILL.) are in order, and also a firmer hand is needed to end the unnecessary hatred.
The someone "disappears" from the website, but continues to check in.
Every two seconds, I hear that the someone (who I thought was done and satisfied) is continuing to talk about me on other social networking sites.
I am now, not only offended, but hurt. And that's how I know this isn't just sillyness or in my head--- it's cyberbullying, and that, my friend, is serious.
What Crossing the Line Looks Like
Crossing the line from a silly argument or misunderstanding to full blown cyberbullying looks different for every situation, but here are some things I want to highlight because these are the things, in my opinon, that really separates the two:
Have you had repeated issues with the same person or group of people online?
Do you feel like they're attacking you collectively, or if it's a single person, do you feel like they attack you on a regular basis?
Do you feel like you're doing something wrong, even though you're the one being victimized?
Are you starting to feel afraid to check (social) websites because you're afraid "they" will be on or will have said something about you in your absence?
Are you being mentally and emotionally affected by what's being said about you?
Do you feel helpless or like no one cares or can stick up for you?
Look. I'm seventeen years old and have never had a problem like this before. But you know what? I can check off all of the things on that list, and this isn't just because I wrote the list--- it's because I've experienced this first hand. Age is just a number. Whether you're twelve or eighty-two, you can be a victim of cyberbullying or even the bully yourself.
Crossing the line means that a situation has gone from pettiness and human error to intentional attacks on a person to the point where mental and emotional stress is being put on another person.
We're all human. We all have the tendency to read into things the wrong way and feel the need to defend ourselves in any way we feel we can. And online, people do this by:
A. Cursing you out
B. Putting you down
C. Trying to turn the tables by making YOU feel like YOU'RE to blame
D. All of the above and more.
But the person who isn't a bully will see the error in that and apologize or will stop trying to hurt you for something that was silly. However, a bully will continue to attack you personally for reasons that usually have nothing to do with you.
What Makes a Bully and How You Can Stop Them
A bully is made of a person who:
A. Builds up defenses to protect themselves that end up hurting others
B. Likes to hurt others to keep up appearances or because it's in their nature
C. Is insecure and acts out to hide or appease these insecurities
D. Needs to put others down to feel like they're "on top"
E. Doesn't like someone and chooses to attack them physically, emotionally, or verbally
Acts of bullying include:
A. Calling someone out of their name
B. Refusing to stop taunting, teasing, talking about, or taking the time to manipulate others into disliking someone
C. Using your position, power, or privileges to take advantage of others
D. Doing something to intentionally hurt someone else
E. Egging on a situation, or making someone feel badly about themselves.
You can prevent bullying by:
A. Refusing to participate in acts of bullying
B. Engaging in the practice of standing up for people who you see are being bullied
C. Asserting yourself by standing up to bullies early on
D. Conversing civilly with the person you're having a problem with to try and rectify the situation
E. Tell someone--- anyone--- when all else fails so that you have someone to back and support you.
If You Think You're a Victim of Bullying or Cyberbullying...
Get help. Talk things out. Get support. Talk some more.
There's no reason not to. Because if you keep talking, I guarantee you someone will listen. And if you feel like no one else will, come to me, because I will and we'll get you some help.
If You Think You are a Bully but Want to Rectify The Situation...
Get help. Listen to what is being said. Get someone to listen back. Listen even more.
There's no reason not to. Because if you open your ears to hear, I guarantee you'll want to stop. And if you feel like you can't or that there's no forgiveness, come to me because I'll hear you out and we'll get you some help.
Bullying of any kind hurts. And cyberbullying IS bullying.
Believe it. Receive it. Correct it. Reject it.