Why do people cyberbully others?
What is cyberbullying?
Cyber bullying is when someone sends you hurtful messages or harasses you online via social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and more. What makes this different to face-to-face bullying is that sometimes you won't know who's sending the messages because people can make themselves anonymous online, but it is still just as harmful, Choma.
Reasons people cyberbully others:
Some people fall into the cyberbullying trap if they are trying to defend themselves or their friends when they are being criticised by other people, aka they are being "called out". It's common for a bully to feel attacked if they are being criticised for saying something that is harmful to others. This might cause them to say even more nasty and harmful things to others in defence.
Cyberbullies want to show people that they have power and can get away with doing hurtful things. A lot of the time this might be because they have been abused by someone they know and feel that this is the way to boost their ego, get their confidence back or to express themselves.
To cyberbullies, hurting other people can seem funny and they find it to be entertaining. If they have an audience or others laughing along, this can encourage them to carry on.
As hard as it can be to believe, sometimes the reason someone bullies others is because they just don't know it's wrong, or they don’t understand the level of pain that they are causing to someone else. To them, cyberbullying isn't "real" bullying and so they don't see it as harmful, this shows that they aren't aware of other people's feelings.
When someone doesn't know how to deal with negative emotions, like frustration and anger, they can decide to take it out on whoever they see as an easy target. This is why it's so important to always talk to a friend, family or a healthcare provider when things are bothering you.
Having an online personality that's completely different to who you really are makes it easy to say things you know are wrong, and this can usually happen when you're not happy or comfortable with your authentic self, Choma. Cyberbullies use this fake online persona to hide behind and remain anonymous, that way they think they can't get into trouble for being harmful online.
What can you do?
The great thing is that a lot of social media platforms have extra security settings to avoid this kind of thing happening to you. Here are 5 steps to blocking someone on Facebook:
1. Click at the top right of any Facebook page.
2. Click Privacy Shortcuts.
3. Click “How do I stop someone from bothering me?”
4. Enter the name of the person you want to block and click Block.
5. Select the specific person you want to block from the list that appears and click Block again.
On your public profiles, you can also change your security settings to make sure your personal information is invisible to people you don't know so they can't stalk you or contact you unless you have them as a friend.
Here's an article for more on what to do if you're being cyberbullied.
If you or a friend are being bullied online and need advice or help, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)
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