If one has to describe the 21st century in one phrase, it has to be “The Digital Age”. We have seen a massive explosion of technology in our time, making our lives easier and a lot more judicious. With the outcome of this explosion came the birth of social media. Staying connected, documenting our lives, reading our favorite excerpts has never been easier. However, to use a cliche, every coin has two sides. With the pros of social media came also its cons, and more often than not, they often become a huge price to pay for the pleasure that the space offers.
Yes, cyberbullying. Cyberbullying, online bullying, or internet bullying, according to Unicef is “bullying with the use of digital technologies”. The act is carried out with the purpose of triggering anger, shame, or fear in the targeted person.
While we attempt to build our social media spaces to be beautiful and reliable, online harassment in the form of cyberbullying tends to cast a shadow on the benefits that you can derive from that space and can have a scathing impact on you by disrupting your mental, emotional and physical well being. This pattern is becoming increasingly common and is therefore important for us to be more aware of it and prevent cyberbullying.
Different types of cyberbullying
There are different ways in which you can be a victim of online bullying. It is important to be aware of them in order to identify and then take the necessary measures to deal with them. Some of the common types of internet bullying are:
This involves revealing sensitive information (photographs, phone numbers, personal messages, etc) about a person without their consent in order to humiliate them.
It is a form of extensive stalking on social media, keeping a tab on all the activity of a certain person and can also turn into physical stalking
Fraping is a form of cyberbullying that involves using a social media account in someone else’s name in order to ruin their reputation
Trolling is when a person tries to intentionally hurt someone by posting rude and triggering comments on their profile. This is one of the most common forms of online harassment.
How to deal with cyberbullying?
Like any other bullying, cyberbullying has the potential to cause you great displeasure and even affect your mental and physical health. Anyone could be a victim of it and one needs to keep in mind the fact that you as a victim are not responsible for any of it. Once you identify that you are being put through internet bullying, the following ways are some of the things you can do to deal with the situation in a calm and composed manner.
- Seek the help of your friends or close ones if you think you’re being bullied online. If that isn’t comfortable don’t shy away from consulting a professional counsellor (anonymous consultations available on The Wellness Corner app). Look up the helpline numbers in your country that can assist you with this.
- Block the id/account from the social media platform that is being used to heckle you. Contact the police or register a cyberbullying complaint if you think you are in any further danger.
- While it is easier said than done, try to not take the comments/messages personally. It doesn’t reflect who you are but rather the person sending these.
- Do not indulge or respond. This will only worsen the matter and further add to your stress. It is exactly this that the bully wants you to do so therefore keeping your calm at this moment of crisis is one of the best ways to go about it.
- Sometimes, one of the easiest solutions is to get off of social media for a little while. Taking a breathing gap from social media platforms can help you recuperate and pay attention to your surroundings better. It will be a great way to recharge your soul so that you can get back to your social media platforms with a refreshed mind.
- Do not forget to keep records (screenshots) in case you decide to take legal action in the future.
How to prevent cyberbullying?
While one can’t really devise a fool-proof method to protect oneself from cyberbullying, there are certain things that can lower the likelihood of it happening to you.
- Protect your accounts from strong passwords and make sure you don’t share the password or any other detail with people.
- Go through the privacy setting offered by different social media platforms such as the double authentication login option offered by platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
- Immediately report the account to avoid any future disturbances from that particular account.
- If you have personal/private accounts on social media make sure that you do not add absolute strangers to your list.
The digital world is increasingly becoming a space of danger and risk. It is, however, not a lost cause. Helping each other and creating awareness can go a long way in making digital platforms clean and safe spaces again.