The Chatter: Cyberbullying

Achazia Adams and Nylah Richburg

Cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Not only can cyberbullying affect a student’s social behavior (ex: avoiding social events, being withdrawn, losing interest in activities that they have once enjoyed), but a person’s confidence and self-esteem take a blow as well. Some online users may believe that trolling, or deliberately antagonizing someone online by posting inflammatory, offensive, or disruptive content, is simply a joke. But is it just a joke when the person who is being targeted is suffering? Oftentimes trolls do not understand the full impact of their actions.

As teens, we often internalize offensive comments and try to make sense of why a person may be saying something so hurtful about us. We then begin to question why so many users are encouraging the hurtful content and laughing along. Eventually we make conclusions and wonder “maybe it’s true, it’s me” and because of this, our mental health begins to take a turn for the worse. Any form of bullying is never okay and it leaves a person feeling dejected even after the situation has been resolved. Unfortunately, the solution to cyberbullying is not simple; but the editors of Voices of South came together to give Comets advice on how to combat cyberbullying and regain self-love.

We understand how hard it can be to open up to adults about the things that bother us, but the best way to deal with problems is by speaking to someone who can help. Alerting a trusted adult and letting them know what you are experiencing is the first step to putting an end to this behavior. If you are afraid to talk to your parents, consider reaching out to your favorite teacher or your school counselor. There are Georgia laws and GCPS policies that have rules against cyberbullying, a trusted adult would be able to outline them to you. They would also be able to offer you some support when you begin to feel troubled about something you may have seen online.

The second thing we can advise you, is to block and report the accounts that are posting these things. Keep a record of what was said online either in a diary or a screenshot in a folder. This record would help you verify any posts if the matter becomes a legal issue. Once you have compiled documentation, block the bully and do not continue to open or respond to their messages. Use this time to focus on practicing self-love. When a cyberbully brings your self-esteem down, you should depend on your true friends and family members to build you back up. Take a hiatus from social media and spend time hanging out with good friends, participating in activities that bring you joy, and reciting positive affirmations to yourself.

Last but certainly not least, fake it until you make it. It might seem impossible to carry a smile on your face when it seems like the internet is against you, but when bullies see their actions aren’t affecting you, they move on. Bullies are people who do not have high self-esteem themselves, they can only thrive when they are creating harm and tearing another person down. They use their words and actions to create harm and belittle others for laughs and attention, but with the lack of, their actions are irrelevant.