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How To Shield Yourself From Online Torment: What It Is And How To Identify It
I stick to posts about how to make transformations to improve your life and more productive. Today, I want to talk about how to protect yourself from cyberbullying. An issue so prevalent, yet often ignored.
Bullying and cyberbullying are two things I hate with a passion. It is not only outrageous and disgusting, it is in many places considered a crime. I absolutely, unequivocally cannot and will never make excuses for any form of cyberbullying. No matter how flat you make a pancake it has two sides right? No matter how you view bullying, it is always wrong.
There are lots of articles about kids and teens being bullied at school or suffer through cyberbullying online.
Let’s talk about adults bullying and cyberbullying each other, how to identify it, and protect yourself from cyberbullying.
This is not just an adolescent issue. Trust me.
I want to take time to give the adults who are being victimized some tips, advice and suggestions.
Cyber bullies can hide behind a mask of anonymity online and do not need direct physical access to their victims to do unimaginable harm.
Did you know 81% of young people think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person?
I am not surprised. It is so easy to hide behind a computer.
Bullies have been around forever. Technology and social media has given them a new platform to conduct their bullying behaviour. Name-calling, spreading rumours, online attacks, and threats.
Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that takes place over digital devices. Cyberbullies conduct their activity through social media, forums, threads, and SMS.
Bullies will send and share privately or publicly mean, harmful, false or negative content about a person.
This includes profanity, hate speech, and sexual remarks.
The content shared will cause the victim shame, embarrassment, and humiliation. It is repeated behavior intending to harm. It is often motivated by anger, revenge or frustration.
The worst type of cyberbullying is when it is done for entertainment at the expense of the target. Bullies often surf the Internet under pseudonyms, therefore the victim rarely knows who is doing the bullying.
“No one heals himself by wounding another.”Click To Tweet
Examples Of Bullying VS. Cyberbullying
Common forms of bullying:
- Hurting people physically
- Picking on someone
- Spreading rumors
- Excluding people
- Making fun of a person’s physical attributes
- Making someone a target
- Sending mean messages with use of email, text messages, and the internet
- Creating fake accounts to harass someone
- Using social media to embarrass and hurt
- Posting nasty pictures or messages about others
- Getting another person to do the “dirty work” online
- Public Shaming
- Hacking into a person’s account to cause them pain by using their profile for negative activity (impersonation)
Adult bullying exist everywhere. Their main goal is to assert power over another person and make themselves look untouchable by demeaning their victims. They take pleasure in making life difficult and uncomfortable for others.
Many bullies like to do their dirty work by hiding behind screen names. Others are bolder and use their personal accounts to hurt others.
The worst part is that many of these people do not see their behaviour as being harmful.
They feel a sense of power and do it for their own pleasure and entertainment.
Not only children engage in these behaviour. It is very common among adults. They attack each other with harsh words, threats, pictures, and information. Any of us can fall victim to cyberbullies. You may have high self-esteem but words can still hurt.
Threats that may seem harmless to you might hurt another person deeply.
“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.”Click To Tweet
Stories On Cyberbullying And Public Shaming
I have read too many stories about people who have committed suicide due to bullying. Both on and offline.
You never know what a person is going through and how your words can cut deep.
You may have heard the story of Tyler Clementi. He was an 18-year-old American student at in University, who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge.
Three days prior to his suicide, his roommate, Dharun Ravi, used a webcam on his dorm-room computer to view, Tyler kissing another man. Of course, Tyler did not have any knowledge of this.
Tyler found out after his roommate posted about the webcam incident on Twitter.
The Twitter message said “wrote: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly’s room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”
As if that was not enough, his roommate urged friends and Twitter followers the next day to watch via his webcam a second video between Tyler and his male friend.
When I read this on the news, I was shocked and the level of public shaming and callousness.
He was taking joy in shaming someone for having a private sexual encounter with another man.
Sadly, on the evening of September 22, 2010, Tyler left his dorm room, bought food from the campus food court, and around 18:30 headed toward the George Washington Bridge.
At 20:42 p.m. he posted from his cell phone to Facebook: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”
Can you imagine the shame, pain, hurt and embarrassment he was feeling?
I can only try to imagine what was going through his mind. Having your private life thrown into the public in that manner. So sad and what a tragedy.
Tyler’s story gained a lot of local and international publicity.
A lot of adults and children commit suicide due to bullying. Many stories go untold.
Stories that don’t make it to the media. Not sharing because the family wants to grieve privately.
Teasing And Bullying
The ability to remain anonymous on the internet gives the upper-hand to cyberbullies.
Do you know that some adults even pose as children in order to bully kids?
One horrible woman did this to a 14- year old girl, which resulted in the girl hanging herself.
Here is the sad and tragic story of Megan Taylor Meier.
Sorry. This post is getting dark and sad. I digress. *Sigh*
I read these stories and they often leave me thinking for hours on end because it is yet another unnecessary tragedy. Let’s prevent future tragedies and talk about what you can do in order to protect yourself.
Immediate Steps To Take To Protect Yourself From Cyberbullying
First things first. You should never ever tolerate any form of bullying. Don’t encourage it. Don’t participate in it.
No matter how minimal and harmless it may seem, you just don’t know how it will affect the person you are attacking.
Protect yourself from cyberbullying and never bully anyone else. In any form at all.
Here is what to do if you are being cyberbullied:
Ignore the Bully
Never respond. When you do, it only encourages the person to continue and do more. It feeds their need, so just ignore them. Social media, email and your phone will let you block messages, texts, and phone calls.
Save All Evidence
Take screenshots, save messages, emails, phone records. Keep all form of contact and communication as evidence which will help you prove your case. Record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when cyberbullying has occurred.
Let at least two to three people know what is going on. It is important that people are aware of what is happening to you.
Another way to protect yourself from cyberbullying is to report it. Report a bully to the website administrator or safely center. This is a way to uncover anonymous bullies if you do not know their real names. Site owners can take down posts on your behalf and kick bullies of a site. Most websites prohibit harassment.
Cyberbullying often violates the terms of service established by social media sites and internet service providers.
Can I Report Cyberbullying to Law Enforcement?
The answer is YES! You might feel like it won’t be taken seriously, however it is another way of documenting what is happening to you. Does law enforcement explain ways to protect yourself from cyberbullying? Yes and no. Some departments will give you detailed information on what you can do, while others will provide you with general information.
Do not be discouraged if law enforcement doesn’t jump to help you solve online harassment cases.
Depending on where you live, it can be difficult as not all authorities are fully trained in cyber crimes or cyberbullying specifically. Regardless, have your case documented.
In order to protect yourself from cyberbullying, you should immediately report activities which are considered a crime.
Crimes such as:
Threats of violence
- Child pornography or sending sexually explicit messages or photos
- Taking a photo or video of someone in a private place e.g. bathroom
- Hate crimes
You should never have to live in fear for your safety. No one should be able to control your life but you.
“People who love themselves, don’t hurt other people. The more we hate ourselves, the more we want others to suffer.” Click To Tweet
Other Great Ways To Protect Yourself From Cyberbullying
- Think about what you post.
- Think about who sees what you post online.
- Never share your passwords.
- Cease communication when it escalates or gets ugly.
- Know that your feelings are valid.
Adult bullying and cyberbullying is so common, but not talked about too much.
Have you ever felt shame or fear of retaliation or revenge so you didn’t report report bullying?
I have. Both as an adult and as a child. As a child I could stand up to bullies and looked out for everyone who was being bullied.
In adulthood? I was ashamed that it was happening to me. Where had my voice gone?
Long-term bullying can lead to depression and feelings that you are worthless. Which you aren’t. It is so hard to talk about sometimes. Especially when you feel misunderstood.
Bullying makes it hard to trust others, make or keep friends. Those that experience bullying know how it takes toll on your self-esteem and self-worth.
Taking Action And Protecting Yourself
If there is anyone online causing you emotional distress, makes you feel sad, upset, nervous, or any other form of emotional anxiety, then you are probably a victim of cyberbullying.
It is important to stand up for yourself, but always remember to do so in a safe way. People are unpredictable these days, and you never know what lengths people can go to. Bullies are often lacking something crucial in their lives so they seek pain in others.
Do not fill this void for them by giving them a reaction. Your reaction is exactly what they are seeking.
I hope you have learned the different ways to protect yourself from cyberbulling and bullies in general.
Please share your thoughts, concerns, ideas, and stories with me in the comments section below.
Let’s talk more the issue of adult bullying and how to protect yourself from cyberullying.
Share and raise awareness. Do not support or tolerate bullying. Not ever.