Every week, it seems like, we hear about another case of a teenager who was tortured via social media by his or her classmates. In some of these cases, these bullied teens end up killing themselves. They can’t handle the cruelty anymore and death seems to be a better alternative to living with such hatred. The most recent case is 15-year-old Amanda Todd, who committed suicide after being bullied via the Internet for quite some time.
While you may be thinking this is just a high school or middle school problem, the truth is, college students engage in online bullying, too. We’d all like to think that we become wiser as we age, but the truth is that we aren’t much better than these cruel teenagers who spill vitriol onto social media accounts. And the sad part is that we should all know better at this point in our lives.
There are many websites out there – which will remain unnamed so I do not draw further attention to them – that purely focus on writing mean things about people on your campus. There are message boards where people post cruel and hurtful things about groups on campus or even specific individuals. This type of behavior is vile. Why on Earth would you write something so nasty about someone that you would never say to their face? What kind of a coward sits behind these horrible posts? Although most of these websites get shut down after a period of time, new ones keep popping up every single day. The best thing you can do is to avoid them and not give them any attention. Every page you click on is another dollar in ad revenue to keep that website running. Don’t be the one to help fund these terrible websites.
Even though these websites bear the brunt of the ugliness, what you post on your personal accounts can be hurtful as well. Even if you don’t identify who you’re writing about in your Facebook or Twitter post, chances are, the person you are writing about knows it’s about them. And it hurts like hell to see something nasty written about you online. As much as you think it won’t hurt you or that you can rise above it, the pain is still there. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of a former roommate who took to blogging mean things about me – and it sucked. I would never want anyone else to go through that.
Think before you act. Why are you treating this person this way? What are the ramifications? How else could you resolve this situation? Would you want to be treated this way? Even if you’re mad, it’s not worth it to post your seething rage online. Slow down, take a breath and vent to someone offline if you need to.
Every time you avoid posting something nasty online, know that you’re helping to fix the online bullying problem our world is facing. Be part of the solution, not the problem.