We need to talk about bullying online…
If someone was to sit me down and ask me to list all the kind things that people have said about me, my social media and my blog, a few would come to mind. If you were to sit me down and ask me about all the rude, nasty and upsetting things people have said about me, my social media and my blog, it’s likely I could name them all. But, I don’t have a problem, this isn’t actually about me, it’s about the impact of bullying influencers and other people online and why, it needs to stop.
The problem is this, you’re sitting online behind a phone or screen and it’s easier than ever to be anonymous. Let’s say that someone has a very different opinion or lifestyle to you and you grow to dislike them, for whatever reason it might be. For most normal people, a simple mute or unfollow does the trick, but for others, this manifests so much deeper.
Bloggers have become like celebrities, having a massive impact on millions of people, but the difference is that they feel so much more accessible.
Let’s say that Blogger A has become a massive success, due to excellent marketing skills, an outstanding personality and years of work. Suddenly, they are being gifted holidays, designer clothing and invites to fabulous events, to most people this wouldn’t be an issue, and life goes on. Yet, there’s a darker flipside, people become obsessive about those they follow, desperate to locate more information and discover behind the scenes. They start looking for flaws, or reasons to dislike this person, which leans towards an invasion of privacy and unhealthy behavior.
The next step can go in a few different directions, they unfollow, read a gossip forum (which is something that should be banned) and get over it. Or, they become obsessed with that person, creating rumors, trolling and invasion of privacy to the point of locating home addresses of the person in question and even family members. Causing the person being trolled serious issues with mental health, security, and general well-being.
Alternatively, let’s say that Blogger B has been selected for a campaign and starts getting more paid work. It might start with a few snarky “Not mentioning names” tweets about bloggers being paid for “nothing” and the odd sarcastic Instagram direct message. But the impact that be just as hurtful, when did we decide it was okay to question people for doing a job? For being selected for a big campaign? Anyone who knows about the “Asics Frontrunners” will know that actually, the social media campaign of the year has caused several people to be bullied in many different forms.
It might not matter to you; it could be that you’re happy to just tweet and direct message without a care in the world. However, until the tables are turned and you’re on the receiving end of trolling, in its many different forms, you won’t really understand. Another issue I have it’s that it would appear that women are the primary targets…
Did you know? 15% of teen girls have been the target of at least four different kinds of abusive online behaviours, compared with 6% of boys. I can’t imagine that the percentages are hugely different for older women.
After all, my objective with this blog is to make people feel better and create a better mind-set for myself and others, so it feels natural to share some ways to handle “Bullies Online”…
*Firstly, consider “Is this someone trolling or bullying or are they simply expressing an opinion?” – For example, are they trying to validate something you’ve said or a rumor they’ve heard? Do they have a different viewpoint? Is it constructive criticism or simply a difference of opinion? If so, the best objective is to hear them out and move forward.
*Secondly, ignore it. I know this is hard and trust me, someone who really wants to make an impact on you will keep on trying. But eventually, if you’re not reacting, they should give up, so amour yourself up and rant in private, not online.
*Thirdly, try humor and weave in the facts or offer a friendly correction about the statement being made. This makes it considerably tougher for someone to make a negative impact, it’ll reflect better on you and might even resolve the issue with one reply.
*Finally, block that person and move on. Simple.
I can only hope that in the future, stricter rules will be in place and we can create a more healthy and kind online space.