If you’ve ever watched a YouTube or Instagram video by some popular social media influencer, you’ve probably witnessed cyberbullying. All you have to do is scroll through their comment sections to get an idea of how prevalent it is.
Famous Celebrities And Cyberbullying
Tiffany Haddish, a famous American comedian, actress, and author, shared her experience of cyberbullying. Tiffany has made it known that she had an extremely difficult upbringing.
In a recent interview on Fox Soul, she shared how being bullied in her family home prepared her for social media.
According to Tiffany, nothing that the cyberbullies subject her to now comes close to what she experienced from her own mother. Her mother, after a critical head-injury, became so verbally abusive and dysfunctional that Tiffany ended up in foster care.
This, she says, makes rude and abusive comments from cyberbullies about her looks or her lack of talent, feel like nothing.
But what if you don’t have that mettle? How would you deal with being verbally abused and attacked by strangers on a daily basis?
Taking A Suicide Poll
In May 2019, a 16-year-old Malaysian girl committed suicide after she polled her followers. She asked them whether she should choose life or death and 69% responded that she should choose death. She followed through.
Clearly, this is an extremely tragic outcome and the fact that she polled such a shocking question, points to the fragile state of her mental health at the time.
Yet, regardless of her mental state, these ‘followers’ chose to deliberately respond to her poll, in a destructive and cavalier manner.
It’s not just those with a large following who have to deal with cyberbullying:
Many micro-influencers on YouTube and Instagram speak about having to take a break from social media for their mental health.Tweet
The endless comparisons with other more popular influencers, stark criticisms of their appearance and harsh opinions, wear them down.
Lipstick Alley is a site that provides a platform for people to take aim at celebrities and influencers alike. It describes itself as an adult community that discusses a broad range of topics with little or no censorship. Their tagline appears to be “We don’t do any hand-holding here.”
It is this laissez-faire attitude to cruel commenting and deliberate attacks going uncensored, that means social media influencers have little recourse.Tweet
Even more so, when their attackers get to remain cloaked under fake profile pictures and monikers.
Responsibility of Social Media Influencers
Then there is the other side of the coin, where influencers who share posts irresponsibly have a negative impact on their audience. The Danish influencer, Fie Laursen, posted a suicide note on Instagram, where she has more than 336,000 followers.
This led to a debate in Denmark on how to monitor online content from influencers. The Danish Minister of Children and Education Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil stated that influencers needed to accept editorial responsibility for posts that may cause harm.
Thankfully, in this case, Laursen got help in time and was taken to hospital to recover, but we cannot know who else might have been influenced by a suicide note that stayed online for two days before finally being taken down.
Bullying Culture Normalised
According to Broadband Search dot net, 34% of people feel they have been cyberbullied in their lifetime and 17% of those polled said it had happened to them within the last 30 days.
Many people who complain of being cyberbullied say they are told that it comes with the territory. The premise is that there is an upside and a downside, to social media and people just need to get over it.
They are told to use the block or delete button or to just not read their comments. As well-meaning as this advice might be, it isn’t particularly effective.
An abusive comment once seen, is not easily forgotten. If you’re already feeling vulnerable, blocking an abusive cyber-bully won’t necessarily ease the pain of their words.
Even those with robust mental states get worn down with constant criticisms and comparisons. We only have to look at the downside of fame generally, to know that this is true.
What can you do about cyberbullying?
For young people who are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, BullyingUK has lots of good suggestions. One of the things they suggest is to not respond to cyber bullies, and keep a record of all communication.
The evidence can then be forwarded to Internet Service Providers who can track who sent the message. It’s good to keep a record of bullying activity generally, especially in the most serious cases, as this will allow investigators to build a case against those causing harm.
With more and more people having access to social media the rate of cyberbullying can only increase.Tweet
It’s not just children and teenagers who experience cyber bullying, anyone of any age, with access to a phone or the internet, can experience it.
Adults may be better equipped to deal with the issue than children, but the effects of being bullied whatever your age, are not to be underestimated.
Whether you’re an innocent child or a social media influencer deliberately courting a response from your followers, the effects of being constantly bullied are real and tangible.
If cyberbullying is allowed to continue unchecked, then we will definitely be facing a global mental health epidemic before too long.
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