Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Cyberbullying is At an All-time High Right Now

Cyberbullying, according to Wikipedia, is the use of Information Technology to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner. In layman terms, Cyberbullying is when you hide under being Anonymous on a blog site, or a forum and spew hate and abuses at people. Celebrities get hit the hardest because they put themselves out there more, but normal people too get cyber-bullied. There has been cases of normal people who committed suicide because they were bullied on the Internet. Bullying is nothing knew in the world, but it just got worse with the introduction of the Internet, and the frequent use of social media by people of all ages. The world being a global village, makes it easier for people to reach more people than they could have ever reached before now. And it also makes it easier for people to reach people that they could never have met in their lives, if there was no social media.

A friend of mine from University days wanted to fit into the social class by all means, and so did a lot of silly and laughable things. People started making jokes about him, and bullying him with words. I tried my best to always defend him, but there was little I could do cos he kept doing those things that made people make jokes about him. And around the time we were to graduate (he had an extra year), all the bullying of the past years took a toll on him, and he became mentally unstable. I feel guilty anytime I think of this, but to be honest, i barely saved myself from some of my own self esteem issues too, so there really was little I could have done for him.

I say that to say this, it is not everyone that has a tough skin and can take abuses, and look-downs from people. The easy accessibility of the Internet in recent times, and the huge amount of people that access it daily, makes the case of cyberbullying a very serious one to consider. Just the other day, Nigerian actress turned singer, Tonto Dikeh broke down on twitter, speaking on how depressed she had gotten reading all the negative comments about her on social media sites. And she confessed that she had contemplated suicide many times. A lot of people don't know how powerful words are, they just open their mouths and spew dirt at people they have not even met, just because they feel they can. I think maybe it makes them feel better about their own lives. And the irony of it all might be that their lives might be worse off than the people they are bullying, but they do what they do to make themselves feel better about their sorry ass lives.

You have people on (the most visited forum in Nigeria) and (the most visited blog in Nigeria), tearing down people with their comments at every chance they get. 90% of their comments are always negative. As for Nairaland, it is worse on can't even enquire about a solution to a problem without people making fun of you. The people that comment on there always find the worst in every news, and they don't waste time in wishing the worst on people. That is what the power of being 'Anonymous' can cause...if this people were in the same room with the people they are talking bad about, they would never utter the words they spew out freely (without weighing the consequences) on the Internet.

I remember an interview of Tiwa Savage from back in 2012 where she said she would be sad for days from reading negative comments about her on blogs/websites. She said she would then go for shows, and see tens of thousands of people cheering her on stage. And she wondered where those cyberbullies were. Then her Mom advised her to stop reading comment sections of blogs and websites. The thing people forget is that Celebrities are human beings like me and you. And to add to that, they can be affected worse from cyber-bullying than we can, because they put themselves out there more than the normal citizen. Like when Drake's mom was undergoing surgery, and he came on twitter and wished she made it through, and someone replied his tweet with- 'I wish your mom would die.' He said this was one of the situations that made him reduce his use of social media to barest minimum.

 I just remembered the story of one of the regular followers of Linda Ikeji's bog who goes by the user-name, ONYX. In the past, he wouldn't think twice before tearing down a celebrity. Then, in December of 2013, Linda decided to reward some of her users with N100k cash and N20k cash for Christmas, depending on some criteria. The Onyx guy was picked as one of the winners of N100k cash prize cos he has been a regular user/contributor on the blog. So, Linda met with most of them, and a picture of the meeting was taken. The next day, Linda put the picture up on the blog, and now, Mr. Onyx was on the other side of the divide. That whole day, other users of the blog rained abuses on him, calling him a beggar, and also making funny jokes about his looks. I noticed he was quiet for some days. And on the day he finally came around, he pleaded with some users to go easy on a celebrity they were bashing, confessing that he had suicidal thoughts when He was being  Cyber-bullied the other day. Now, that's a lesson for everyone.

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