How Anonymity Propagates Cyberbullying
About 37% of people aged between 12 and 17 have been bullied online. 30% of them have been bullied more than once. Some people have even been forced to sue for harassment on social media in the quest for justice and financial support. So that raises the question, what could be the driving force behind such high numbers?
If you think about it, many bullies ride on the anonymity that social media platforms afford them. Anonymity is what distinguishes cyberbullying from traditional bullying. When bullies know their identity is disguised, they can be crueler and harsher. Cyberbullies also have the tools to be more relentless than traditional bullies. They can access social media platforms 24 hours a day, so they can torment their victims relentlessly. The victim might have nowhere to hide.
Besides, since the bully’s identity is unknown, they can share abusive posts across multiple social media platforms. Keeping in mind that the internet never forgets, a victim’s reputation might be ruined forever without repercussions on the bully.
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The Psychology of Cyberbullying
Social media is still very young, and so are issues surrounding it, like cyberbullying. Besides cyberbullying being a relatively vague subject, there has been much emphasis on the victim. But it would be a good idea to explore what goes on in the mind of a cyberbully. Here are some of the explanations for why people engage in cyberbullying:
Projecting Their Mental Health Issues
Cyberbullies may be living with mental health issues like aggression and substance abuse, which only worsen their bullying. Others might have personality disorders, such as psychopathy and narcissism. As a result, they lack empathy for people. Bullying others might also be a source of validation for them.
Some people resort to bullying after they have been victims of cyberbullying themselves. When they can’t get ahold of their original bully, they can victimize other people.
Others harass people they were previously close to. It is especially common after the fall of a romantic relationship, although it also happens in platonic settings.
Loneliness and Boredom
Human beings have an intrinsic need for connection. But times have changed – the sense of community is lost. Consequently, more people feel isolated and lonely. They feel ignored by others. This rage builds up, and cyberbullying becomes an outlet. Others want to try another persona on the internet. So they lash out at people from the comfort of their homes.
Bullies on the Internet, Kind Souls in Real Life
You might assume that cyberbullies are also bullies in real life. While that might be true for some people, others have two different personalities. They are mean on the internet but would never bully anyone in real life. Again, that’s because of the anonymous nature of the internet. They can also bully people in a non-confrontational way – leave nasty comments, then log out immediately.
Besides, cyberbullying does not require any form of physical dominance or social status, unlike traditional bullying. That means anyone can be a bully, regardless of their standing in real life. Not to mention that there is no barrier to entry on social media platforms.
Dealing With Cyber Bullying
As you’ve seen, cyberbullies seem to have much leverage over their victims. The best thing to do is ignore the bully as much as possible. For instance, you can block their accounts. It would also be wise to keep records of cyberbullying. They would come in handy, especially if you choose to take legal action. You can also find ways to address the issue if you know the bully. For example, if it’s your colleague, you can take up the issue with someone in HR.