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Bullying Isn't Cool, Especially Not Online

Teens are online now more than ever. In this ‘new media age’ the screen has replaced one-on-one talks as the dominant medium of communication. This dramatic change has made our virtual identity the center of attention rather than focusing on how a person is in real life. What people fail to understand is that one’s virtual image can be altered, trashed and condemned in many different ways, in front of innumerable people. Cyber bullying has become so common between teenagers that we tend to let it pass by; If you keep getting exposed to something which is wrong, the constant exposure can make it seem more normative, which may challenge your values.

What’s tough here is that you’re getting exposure to these posts, stories and various other instances, but you are unable to see the consequences. You’re seeing an individual posting something mean or demeaning regarding some person, but not seeing the the victim, who may be facing anxiety issues or negative thoughts in their daily life when they feel terrible. Instead, you’re witnessing the crime but are unable to see that it goes against the morality and it’s causing harm to an individual.

Social media has been both the catalyst and the medium for bullying. Cyber bullies use digital technology to harass, berate or humiliate you. Unlike regular bullying, cyber bullying doesn’t require face-to-fave contact and isn’t limited to just a handful of witnesses and because Cyber harassment is so easy to perpetrate; A child or teen can easily switch roles, going from being the cyber bully at one point to being a victim the next, and back again. Kids today don’t grasp the permanence of online statements, that even deleted comments and posts will live on in the forms of memories and screenshots. We need to think about how to teach kids media literacy, how to question what they see, and how a photo or any information posted is real and whether or not you want to buy into whatever message it’s sending.

Most of us need to be taught about basic norms of media literacy on ‘how to use social media platforms properly’ without causing any harm to another individual just to rise in the eyes of other people who would do the same, as this would create a group of people who would encourage this kind of vicious behavior to be in the spotlight and not realize that instead of being ”cool”, but just another social media illiterate. Why is it that have we made social media a platform where we don’t even blink once while uploading something cruel about a person but think ten times before actually taking a stand against it?

Why do we make human suffering as the no.1 trending post on social media and then express dissatisfaction about people not being kind, whereas when you yourself are a bystander, you could’ve called that cruel behavior out and supported the victim. Cyber bullying does not only include the culprit and the victim, it also includes the audience which lets it happen consciously. The next time you see a classmate or even an acquaintance getting harassed on social media just say a simple two letter word ”NO, I do not approve of this”, instead of ignoring the post. People give and receive strength to/from people who are seen getting bullied on social media platforms because it would not only make them feel good but, you would also experience a sense of moral goodness within yourself. Using a different perspective to see your bully can help the victim figure out that she/he isn’t the problem and they are also suffering from their own kind of hassles but this does not justify the bully’s actions actions.

These are some reasons mentioned below explaining why an individual feels the need to bully someone:

  1. To make themselves popular or to seek attention because they lack attention in their usual lives at home or at their social circle.

  2. Because they’re jealous of you so they will try to put you down in order to make themselves rise.

  3. To look tough or feel powerful because they feel inferior within themselves and lack empathy.

  4. Because they’re being bullied themselves.

  5. To escape their own problems in their household or in their social life as many bullies face abusive behaviour at home so they reflect that on others.

Extensive research shows Bullies of any kind face these hassles in their lives and by examining their personal traits and behaviors, bullies lash out onto others because they are unable to deal with the inconvenience happening around them so they tend to create drama and become a nuisance for an individual or a society at large. If you’re a person who is friends with the bully, then you can assertively tell them to not continue this behavior and stand up for your beliefs by making them understand that you are not going against them but only stating what’s wrong because it is beneath your morals. Ask him how he/she would feel in the same situation. Also, remind him/her that if he/she bullies other people while you are together, then she /he is putting their relationship with you at risk as well. In fact, if your friend frequently bullies others, at some point he/she may begin bullying you as well if your friendship with him/her goes south.

Since the cases of Cyberbullying are rising, teens are forming other subtle methods such as subtweeting or vague booking information as:

  1. Posting tweets, captions, photos or comments that never mentions the victims name yet the victim, the bully and a larger audience know who the posts,comments,tweets or caption is referred to

  2. Using subtle posts, comments, tweets and stories to fuel the rumor mill while avoiding detection by teachers and parents.

The cyberbullies always have a choice of simply texting you or calling you and sorting out the problem or expressing their feelings before posting something against you. They make a conscious decision to demean you in public, so please do not normalize this low behavior just because someone couldn’t understand the simple ways of communicating with you personally. This reflects on the bully’s character and the victim needs to rise above it and not commit the same ill moral behaviour as their bully.

You as a victim do not deserve this and neither does he/she as a bully. Whatever the reason for you being targeted, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Many of us have been bullied at some point in our lives; About one out of every five students experience this and none of them deserves to put up with it. There are plenty of people who can help you overcome the problem, restrain your dignity and preserve your sense of self without walking in the same path because you are way above it.