“Cyber bullies are weaklings hiding behind technology to have an identity; bringing others down is what makes them feel powerful and better about themselves. No one will enjoy seeing others broken except he or she is sadistically broken.” – Ibukunwrites.
In this age of social media and technological advancements, cyber bullying has become one of the side effects of existence in a cyber-centric world. It is one of those dangerous, life threatening and mental health affecting acts that have sadly become a trend among people on social media platforms, specifically, Instagram and Twitter.
From an angle unrelated to the act of bullying, it is not wrong to say that, cyber bullying is also a result of humans unfortunately existing in a world that has become overly insensitive in such a short time. Sometimes, thinking about cyber bullying tends to make a person feel like it is such a crazy time to be alive, knowing that social media is not a tool for protecting one another’s mental health, it is rather one of the fastest means towards the loss of sanity and peace of mind.
It suffices to say that, this current decade is characterized by a total loss of privacy, decorum and control; boundary delineations have withered and respect is a phenomenon that existed in the distant past, it would seem. It is not unusual to find that people go online, insult one another, pull another person down and get away with it, in a bid to have the bragging rights to be called a savage.
It is important to note that, as far as Nigeria is concern, words like troll(s), clap backs, savage (ry) and many others emanated from cyber bullying and have sadly gained popularity. People have been seen to embrace it without a thought. Whereas, in other parts of the world, cyber bullying is considered a crime alongside cyber stalking. In Nigeria, we speak of it as a crime and act otherwise. On a daily basis, people lash out, say demeaning words to others on social media and go scot free. What then is a crime, if there are no judicial reactions? Do we really think much of this as an issue, considering the way we laugh over it?
Unfortunately, cyber bullying has evolved over time, taking different forms, ranging from cyber stalking, to mean, spiteful and quite insulting comments on people’s personal and public posts, particularly on popular gossip promoting Instagram pages among Nigerians and Non-Nigerians alike. Those days are long gone when people believed kids alone were victims of cyber bullying; In this decade, everybody is trolled and cyber-bullied, particularly celebrities and their wannabes.
Furthermore, this crazy act has led to harassment, body shaming, opinion shaming, belief shaming, tribal shaming, insult hauling and many other kinds of shaming among Nigerians in the cyber world and that is not only crazy but is increasingly becoming scary. There is increase in people opening fake and private accounts with little or no followers and no identity, just to make life unbearable for others.
It is disheartening to see that cyber bullying has become a form of entertainment in Nigeria. The Nigerian slang that has dominated our internet is one sentence I have considered to be a form of cyber bullying, because, when people are constantly reminded of the fact that, there is an online record where their activities are stored and can be retrieve and used against them, their right and freedom is at stake. This has made it increasingly difficult for some people to live, and feel free to be themselves, act right and enjoy their privacy. There are people who open their social media pages for one purpose alone – to troll and cyber bully others. Let’s take for instance, not long ago something of that nature happened between a popular Nollywood actress and a used-to-be successful music artiste, where the latter dug up a horrible video of the former just to humiliate her. We’ve had cases of people attempting suicide, leaving social media and more, because they couldn’t handle the invasion of their privacy.
Ever wondered why Cyber bullying has grown this far?
There are a whole lot of reasons that could be ascribed to the proliferation of cyber bullying. One of them is easy access to technology and social media. It is easy to create and set up a social media account. Juveniles can easily fake their age just to have a social media account with certain age restrictions. Also, there are social media platforms that have no age restrictions inadvertently creating opportunities for everyone whether mentally stable, emotionally mature and sensitive or not to exist on such platforms. Most times, cyber bullying comes like, this, “I was just being blunt”, and “I was just giving my candid opinion” without minding the emotional effect it might cause to the other person.
I am saying this emphatically, it is sad that this society has made comedy out of an obvious insensitivity. The audacity with which people go to another social media user’s timeline to post insulting comments, give unsolicited advice is on the rise. People no longer see any harm in verbally assaulting other people for pleasure, as long as it makes them laugh then it’s okay. Ridicule is the new comedy and shaming is the new art; even if it has to do with a baby; we no longer have limits. I mean, how can we live in a society that thinks threatening, harassing, tormenting and embarrassing other people that occupy the same cyber space as they is somehow the new cool? Don’t we think about the damaging effects of such acts? A lot of people have sunk into the hole of depression, lost their self worth and esteem, became mentally broken, busy seeking validation from people they know nothing of and have committed suicide because some individuals won’t stop cyber bullying.
Can we just look past the life endangering side effect of globalization and technology and talk about how to cope with it?
Sadly, I think we just can’t; it’s so difficult to look past something like cyber bullying, but then, until the society sees the harm and wrong in this act, there is a need to find a temporary solution for people to survive this dangerous act daily.
Coping Mechanisms for Cyber bullying
First, I think it is expedient that we always use the report button on our different social media platforms when there are cases of cyber bullying. It is okay to report the person and block them afterwards. In other instances, most individuals are very good at ignoring and keeping their positive vibes energy on the rise, but not everyone can do that. Sometimes, when it feels like the energy is running out, you can always use the first coping mechanism.
In conclusion, technology should not be used to hurt people but to help them. It should be used to bring smiles to people’s faces and not break them. Cyber bullying is not something that we should fold our arms and watch, it is something we need to stand against, speak against and not tolerate. Many times, in this part of the world, we don’t kick against anything; we carelessly support it and encourage it, until it hits our home and when we end up as victims or someone close to us becomes the victim, that’s when we see it as an issue to worry about. Cyber bullies are just weaklings hiding behind technology to have an identity; bringing others down is what makes them feel powerful and better. No one enjoys seeing others broken except, such a person is sadistically broken.
Our power should not come from bringing others down but in pulling each other up.
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