With millions of people being bullied every day, cyberbullying is, in fact, a problem that has been going on for more than a decade. It is like a spreading virus that has no cure. People cannot avoid talking about other people’s lives on the internet, whether it is a celebrity, a public figure, or even a nobody.
Everyone can experience bullying and verbal torture online. The effect on every individual varies, and sometimes, when people cannot take it anymore, bullying results in serious mental conditions like severe anxiety and depression and sometimes suicide. How is cyberbullying done? What should we do to cope with it? How to prevent and protect ourselves from cyberbullying?
6 Forms of Cyberbullying
There are many forms to harm someone online, and these are:
Harassment and Threat
Online harassment is really annoying since the words that we are about to read are really disturbing and offensive. One example is the case of a self-published author from Georgia, USA, who sent harassing and threatening messages to a guy who dumped her after dating her twice. She sent screenshots of their private conversation to the guy’s boss and posted it online for cyber-shaming.
Flaming is a form of cyberbullying that usually occurs in an online community like forums, group conversations and gaming chats. This is done by sending rude, angry and insulting messages directly to the person. A simple forum post can lead to flaming, and by that, the victim loses self-confidence and credibility online since his reputation has been damaged by flame posts and comments.
Humiliation and Embarrassment
Social networking websites can be used to initiate humiliation and embarrassment to someone. This could be from an unflattering image of someone posted on social networking sites. Some people also humiliate a person if they speak English with remarkably grammatical errors and spelling.
People who are being followed wherever they go and everything that they do suffer from anxiety and fear. They feel that they are not safe on their own. Online stalking happens when a person shares her personal information publicly through social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare and others. With this information, stalkers can send them personal messages, send mysterious gifts to someone’s home address and more.
This form of cyberbullying is one of the hardest to deal with by an average person. Posing is when a person “poses” as someone. They impersonate their target and post words, images, audio, and videos that will ruin the reputation of the target. Facebook is one of the social networking sites that are filled with “posers”, posting status updates, images and videos that will result to bullying.
Anonymous e-mails, phone calls and private messages are often done to a person who is blackmailed. This happens when the person bears secrets that he may expose to the public whenever he pleases. It is usually done with a motive and asks for a bargain. Usually, they ask for money, material things or a favour in exchange for not exposing the secret of their target to the public.
Mediums of Cyberbullying
- Mobile Phones and Smartphones – Mobile phone users can spread viral texts to bully someone virtually. Smartphone users can participate in internet bullying, such as leaving insulting comments and posting images, videos, and audio.
- E-mail – Cyberbullies send harassing e-mail messages and threats to someone.
- Social Networking Sites – Social networking websites are among the most popular mediums for bullying someone online. People use social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook to degrade someone’s personality in the form of image, audio, video or text.
- Blogs – People create personal web pages called blogs to express feelings and thoughts. This can also be abused by literally posting something that will ruin someone’s reputation. Embarrassing photos and videos can also be posted by these “blogger bullies”.
- Forums – Forums are meant for discussion, and that also includes discussing someone else’s life. They leave offensive feedback and unnecessary arrogant comments to the person being discussed in a forum thread. Cyberbullying can also occur when two people have arguments in a certain thread and throw insults and rude comments to each other.
How to Cope with Cyberbullying
With countless means of bullying online, it is really upsetting to know someone who is continuously harassed even though they are not doing anything. Here are some tips and advice on how to cope with it:
It is normal to express aggression of someone who is being bullied but controlling ourselves will help us divert our negative emotions into something positive. We should think of it as a “trial” that we need to go through to be a stronger person.
Way before the age of the internet, kids have been bullied because of their race, social standing, disabilities, appearance and others. Not all people who suffered from bullying committed suicide, grew up abusive and suffered from different mental conditions. As a matter of fact, most of these people grew normal because they had finally let it go and moved forward. To fight cyberbullying, sometimes, all we have to do is nothing. Ignore the attacks. Don’t let it get through you and affect you.
Spend Quality Time with Self, Family and Friends
Being depressed of the situation doesn’t mean that you have to face it alone. Having a bad day is something that all of us experience. Spending time with yourself, your family, or your friends will help you cope with what you are going through. Your loved ones will understand you in every way possible. They will cheer you up in times when you feel that the world has turned against you.
In the end, your loved ones are all that you got and keeping them on your side will help you get through with your darkest days. Spending time with yourself is important, too. Do something that will make you feel good and occupied. You can spend the day doing what you like until you learn to let go of what has happened to you.
How to Prevent Cyberbullying
Now that we have discussed the different forms and mediums of cyberbullying, how we can prevent it? What should we do to protect ourselves from getting cyberbullied?
Whatever you do online, you have to protect and secure your privacy. If you want the world to know your whereabouts, make sure that it is not going to be used against you to prevent bullying. Facebook values privacy, that’s why they have plenty of options to make sure that your private information, photos, videos, posts will only be shared to people or group of people that you allowed to know.
You can control the way you share it online. Do NOT post your mobile number online if you don’t want to receive texts and calls from anonymous people. Do not post your home address on your personal webpage and social network profiles, even if it is just a street without a house number. People may easily locate you once you share your location online.
Know Who To Trust
It’s fun to share photos and videos with your friends, but you have to make sure that these people can be trusted. Giving our trust to the wrong person might bring us harm. It might affect our lives forever.
Being more cautious with Words and Actions
The nature of gossiping started at the same time with human civilization. Some people take our words and actions seriously; some of them don’t. However, we should be more careful in the way we behave and speak to avoid misunderstandings and cause misinterpretation to others. We should be careful to avoid people spreading nonsense rumors, defile our integrity as a human being or ruin our reputation.
How does this happen in our time? Our generation’s access to information is incredibly fast. We can get the latest news with a few clicks from our computer; the moment we turn on our television and the moment we browse our smartphones to read news is only a few seconds away. This is the same as cyberbullying. Our actions and words can be taken against us if we are not cautious enough. We should think before we post something on the internet. We should make sure that it will not cause us inconvenience.
No matter how honest our status updates on Facebook are, we should think of what people will feel about us. Before sharing pictures on Instagram or Twitter, we should think if this is appropriate for the public to see (teens and kids included). Before posting anything online, we should think if this is going to affect our reputation, our image, that we maintain to have a good social life.