Cyberbullying is cruelty formed from cowardice and the easy accessibility to rip someone apart within a millisecond. It only takes an easy target and a social networking account to create an ever-lasting impression on an innocent victim.
Just a year ago, I experienced cyberbullying firsthand. The boys who had lashed out against me on Twitter and through private Facebook messages had never spoken two words to me in person. Unfortunately, they felt the urgency to speak their mind about me on a public social pedestal with hundreds of people to get the chance to hone in on their newest vulnerable flavor of the week.
I had reported one of them through an anonymous letter to one of my classes for previous harassment, and they had found out. When I would normally feel proud of myself for doing the right thing in a scary situation, I almost regretted my choice to be proactive because they had gotten several people in my senior class to turn against me. I felt trapped and more worried about where I stood with my peers rather than my overall wellbeing. I knew that with this type of bully, the harassment would be received virtually rather than physically. To me, their only weapons were the number of likes and retweets they collected over the course of a few hours.
It makes me sad to know that several people contributed to this harassment just by the simple touch on a screen. It is the ignorance of many that contributed to the ego boost of one. While this bully fed off the lack of negative retaliation against them, I still remained in a state of confusion as to why I was at fault for such abuse and why nobody chose to take a stand when it could have halted his actions for even a few more days.
These unfortunate high school memories were buried into my past as I boarded the plane for my university 2,000 miles away. Yet I still get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach that I will return home with feelings of embarrassment and shame from something so long ago. I will feel embarrassment because of the way they portrayed me to many familiar faces who were too quick to judge my side of the story, and shame for letting foolish and immature individuals try to steal my happiness that I so desperately forced myself to keep close to my heart.
I refuse to let bullies who hide behind screens force me to hide behind my desire to do what is right. Sometimes right is not the easy way out, but rather an opportunity to observe how far you will go to protect yourself and to protect others in harm’s way. Silence might be the easier and more convenient route to take in a situation like this, but standing up for yourself and others before circumstances escalate can save a life. Never assume that somebody else will step in because you can be the difference in a matter of a few bold moments.
“You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage.” — Benjamin Mee, We Bought A Zoo
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