Cyberbullying: The Stab Wound Of Words

Cyberbullying is on the increase as we enter into the new era of social media. The year 2020 hasn’t been so great for all of us due to COVID-19 pandemic. Being quarantined and stuck at home has everyone escape to the World Wide Web (the Web) and social media. People start to have more time doing more things like, binging on Netflix shows, unleashing their artistic skills or learning to cook. Whilst these are usually shared on their Instagram stories or Facebook posts, there are also things which they overlooked. The dark side of social media causes people to cyberbully others without them even realising it.

Cyberbullying: A photo of a teenager behind a phone showing how the dark side of social media and the internet.
Cyberbullying is becoming a growing concern in this social media era. Cyberbullies feed on your insecurities and spread insults just to make your life miserable.
Image by Linus Schütz from Pixabay

How I Became More Conscious Of Cyberbullying

It’s three in the afternoon and I am spending my Saturday binging on a Japanese drama about cyberbullying called Class 3A – All Of You Are Hostages From Now On. Staying at home during this pandemic had turned me into an Asian drama addict where I spend more time learning life lessons from over-exaggerated scenarios. I came across this Japanese drama a few times but never had the pull to watch it until I came across one of its scene. The scene was from the first episode, where a bomb was set off at a secondary school that traps a class of students in with the main protagonist, their art teacher. The art teacher claimed that he deliberately set it off and threatens to kill them if they don’t cooperate with his mission. But why? To teach them a valuable lesson that all youth needed to hear.

A photo of a woman browsing through her phone.
The Web and social media are the easiest and quickest means for ill-intentioned people to spread rumours and disinformation to harass others.
Image by Firmbee from Pixabay

“By relying on unreliable information, how many cruel statements you have made to insult others on the internet?! Don’t attack strangers with the words you can never say directly to your parents and friends.”

Ibuki hiiragi, Class 3A — All of You Are Hostages From Now On (japanese drama)

My heart skipped a beat and I felt goosebumps on my arms during this scene. The intensity of different emotions conveyed in the scene hit me like a brick. How can these harsh but truthful words from a fictional character give such a profound meaning to the world we are living in now?

The Power Of Cyber Harassment

I must admit that I have a bad addiction to social media. I wake up every morning, grab my phone and start scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. Whilst working from home recently, I downloaded this social media platform called Tik Tok. A platform where people upload videos ranging from a few seconds to a minute filled with humour, art, beauty, horror and more. The contents are beyond creative and basically anyone can be whoever they want on it. But sadly, there is always someone who doesn’t accept who they are and leave nasty comments.

A photo of social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & Tik Tok) where cyberbullying feeds from.
Social media is the hotbed for cyberbullying. Did you know that Malaysia ranks second in Asia for cyberbullying among youth?
Image by Thomas Ulrich from Pixabay

There was a particular post which I came across that made me question people’s empathy. In the post, an 18-year-old girl is performing one of the trending dances on Tik Tok. And I have to be honest that my first reaction to the video was me shaking my head and silently thinking, “Her clothes are too revealing. She shouldn’t have posted this.” When I clicked over the comments button, I was appalled to see the number of insults and nasty comments hurled at this girl. I brushed it off since it had nothing to do with me but a few days later, the same girl posted another video. In the post, she was in tears, begging people to stop criticising on her earlier post.

It broke my heart to see this young girl crying from the nasty words that strangers had spewed at her. See how much power words can have on someone?

Empathy Wins Over Bad Thoughts

I recollected the words of the art teacher in the Japanese drama and felt a knot on my stomach. What would have happen if I typed out my thoughts? I kept silent as a bystander and watched the whole ‘drama’ unfold. I began to feel bad for her and dispel all judgmental thoughts of her. Moreover, I wanted to tell her that “it’s okay“. At the same time, I wanted to scream at those commenters, “Why are you trying to hurt innocent people who are trying to be themselves, trying to grow in this already scary society, with your malicious forged knife?!”

Never Take Cyberbullying Lightly

“You guys are not at the age where you can make mistakes based on your emotions anymore. Think! Think! Be more responsible for your own words and actions!”

IBUKI HIIRAGI, CLASS 3A — ALL OF YOU ARE HOSTAGES FROM NOW ON (JAPANESE DRAMA)

Cyberbullying does affect the well-being of the victims – their emotional and mental health. Whether it affects you or not, cyberbullying is an issue that needs more awareness. It shouldn’t be something you turn a blind eye to and just walk away as though nothing happened. You might have felt annoyed, jealous or hatred towards them, but why dump your negative feelings on them?

Cyberbullying: A photo of harsh and negative words surrounding a person and them dealing with it by going through mental health problems.
Words, if used in the wrong way, can be scary because they can bring people who are weak minded to places that they should not be. Depression, anxiety and panic attacks are just some disorders that can inflict them when thrown into the endless pit of insults.
Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Be Kind, Think Before You Type

I may have been one of them. The ones who commented without giving a second thought. At some point, I may have thought, “Everyone is saying the same thing, so it wouldn’t be a problem if I do the same right?” No, it is a problem. It’s a problem that everyone think is okay to do. Take this scenario for example – a daughter of an actress is involved in a scandal with a boy, something that the nation can’t accept. So you aggressively type out insults about the mother, the daughter and the boy, thinking that you know everything about them. But yet you failed to think that your words, collectively with others, are turning their life upside down. What gives you the right to think that you have a say about their life?

“Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can only be forgiven, not forgotten.”

Carl sandburg, Swedish-american poet, biographer, journalist, and editor. Three-time pulitzer Prize WINNER
A photo of a girl sitting behind the computer and a brain in a lightbulb on the right where it gives a message to think before you type.
Being behind the screen gives you the power to do whatever you want without anyone being able to stop you. Don’t take it for granted and think before you hit that enter button.
Image by chenspec from Pixabay

Take a second to think how your words behind the screen can impact the one who reads it. Why go to the extend of making them feel sad, angry or scared? Do you feel satisfied that you have the power to play with their feelings behind the screen? Always bear in mind that hurtful words go into the mind of someone and slowly hurt them until they can’t take it anymore. Treat people the way you want others to treat you.

Are You A Victim Of Cyberbullying?

Keyboard warriors aren’t the only ones that can harm you. On the Web, connecting with the rest of the world, one is always open to danger with that single click. Find out how to protect yourself on the Web.

But if you already are a victim of cyberbullying, don’t hesitate to call for help. Whether it be your parents, friends, teachers or any one whom you trust. Don’t ever think that you are weak by calling out for help. You are merely letting the bullies know that they won’t get away with what they have done. But if you or anyone you know are alone and in need of emotional support, reach out to any suicidal helpline such as Befrienders Kuala Lumpur or Women’s Centre for Change. They will take your hand, give you the listening ears that you might need.


This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.

Atiqah GHAZALI

About Atiqah GHAZALI

Grew up overseas in a melting pot of global culture to expat parents, Atiqah is well read, and expresses herself best through writing, art and photography. Architect by qualification, but makes a living as an interior designer.

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