Schools were meant to be safe havens, a sort of sanctuary for children and teenagers to explore their potential and parents trust these institutions with the duty of protecting and nurturing them but instead, the reality is much more different. For many students like myself, school was not a fun or safe place to be and it wasn’t because we hated studying or the early timings, it was due to the fact that we were bullied and ostracized, and I was only 8 years old when this started. It is hard to imagine bullying occurring at such a young age but for many children, this was our reality and bullying, the use of superior force to intimidate and introducing fear, has taken a much scarier form with the advent of technology, the internet and social media.
Imagine bullying, add the social media aspect of it, plus some steroids and you have what we know now as Cyberbullying, its traditional bullying but it is no longer fixed to a physical location, such as school. This should be a concerning because if you think my bullying at 8 was bad, cyberbullying enables children from as young as 3 or 4 to be exposed to this, and this is due to the fact that children are given devices with internet access at a very early age. On top of that, their familiarity with the device means that they are more comfortable with social media, the platform of cyberbullying occurs because of the interconnectivity it provides and the scary part? It allows you and me to be anonymous, no strings attached, and this means that bullies, unlike the traditional form where the bully is known and can be dealt with, can now hide his or her identity and would not be held accountable for his actions. If this isn’t complex enough, it gets worse.
In our minds, we would think that bullying often just involves the bully and the victim but in cyberbullying cases, there’s a third party: all of us. We, as bystanders, are actively part of a bullying process but we just don’t see, feel or realize it, and it is our lack of actions that actually empowers bullies and harm the victims because we are subtlety sending messages to the bully that we aren’t doing anything and to the victims that we cannot help you (Barlinska, et al., 2013). This allows them to carry out the bullying with our help and the more we are exposed to it, the more it becomes a normalizing behavior. Thus, it gives the bullies room to carry out these bullying without much repercussions (Chen, et al., 2017).
This Photographer Documented Reactions To Her Weight
“Quit looking like a slob. No one cares that you’re a fat slob. Just the fact that you’re a slob.” said Haley Morris-Cafiero
Ms. Morris-Cafiero, a fine art photographer who had been working on a series of self-portraits in public spaces. She set up these self-portraits specifically to collect the reactions to her presence called ‘Wait Watchers’. She decided to photograph herself eating, bending, sitting in public in order to the notice the way they appear to be looking at her. As a result it went viral in 2013 with those judging, mocking and scorning from the internet.
“The day after the Lenscratch article was published, I was contacted by Huffington Post and then the Daily Mail and after that it just went crazy,” said Morris-Cafiero, recalling how rapidly the pictures went viral. The experience for her was shocking as she found herself lying in the position after emailing constantly, talking on the phone with four international news outlets and being scheduled for travel to do talk shows.
Her photographs have been widely exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad and have been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines and online. It became a full-time job for a long run. This shows the impact of the internet. It is undeniable that bullying not only occur in our present world but also in another platform such as internet.
It was an attempt to bully victim for years. To clarify, people have been hiding behind their computer screens to bully others to the point where writing criticizing comments is common. People sitting in front of computer use the internet to bully those they find weaker than themselves. The parody of the bullies attempted by creating images and publishing them on the internet. It is the only tool they used for their attacks others and the images would be seen by millions, and would live again and again.
Hackers Publish Nude Pictures on Leslie Jones’s Website
Leslie Jones, the Ghostbusters actress, has had her official website JustLeslie.com hacked and private photos of her leaked. She was a victim for her appearance and race, and it was getting worse when her personal website appeared to have been hacked. The anonymous hacker who got into her accounts completely sabotaged the website and put a video of Harambe The Gorilla on the top of the website. The leak of pictures of Leslie includes posing with celebrities (Rihanna, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and 50 Cent), two passport documents of her and nudes.
Although there was no way to independently confirm that the photos were of Ms. Jones and whether the identification documents were real or not, the address on the driver’s license appeared to correspond with information about Ms. Jones that is available through public records.
Unfortunately, the Internet got hold of them before Leslie’s camp has taken down the photos.
There was hashtag #standwithLeslie posted by 22 celebrities and millions of people. This happened after Leslie Jones asking people to do something on Twittter “Twitter I understand you got free speech I get it. But there has to be some guidelines when you let spread like that. You can see on the … Profiles that some of these people are crazy sick. It’s not enough to freeze Acct. They should be reported.” posted by Leslie Jones. Many people were sending love along with the fans, those celebs were standing up for Leslie Jones with a range of tweets that prove just how beautiful and inspiring she truly is.
Not surprisingly, photos of her were posted on Twitter. It is obvious that this type of abusive behavior is not permitted on Twitter, and we’ve taken action on many of the accounts reported to us by both Leslie and others. We need to stop and report this type of behavior but Twitter were in improving tools and enforcement systems to prevent this kind of abuse and Twitter were not be able to delete all of nude pictures. We realize we still have a lot of work in front of us before Twitter is where it should be on how we handle these issues. Not just on Twitter, cyberbullying is widespread and in every single social media.
So, we’ve identified the problem and how bullying (note that when I say bullying, it’s a broad term to cover cyberbullying as well since the only difference is the platform) is normalized, you might be asking “how can we stop this?” or “why isn’t anything done to stop it?”
The problem isn’t as straightforward though. To deal with cyberbullying means that we have to look at the social problems that affect these bullies and victims (Economist, 2017). Exploring theories is needed and also dealing with how we use social media, which is tricky since it has evolved faster than our current laws can keep up with. It is a multidirectional approach with a lot of legal jargon and limbos but there have been efforts to stop, or at least, to curb the issue and spread of cyberbullying but the anti-virus to this virus has largely been ineffective though some may argue that it has been relatively effective, shown through statistics in which bullying has dropped, but as I have previously mentioned, it fails to reflect bullying that has become normalize, meaning we don’t see or feel it enough to report it (Tanrikulu, 2014).
All in all, we face a pressing problem that impacts all of us, whether we like it or not we have to deal with it. The main problem now is the effectiveness in measures taken to deal with the problem and how the actions, or the lack of, will run the risk of normalization of behaviors that will later be problematic is dealing with in society. This does not mean we do not have the policies in place to deal with it but rather these policies actually solve the root problem of bullying in the first place (Bhat, et al., 2010) and there is also an implicit need to understand how we are all, in one way or another, have a part to play in tackling this problem even if we do not necessarily engage in it or are actively involved in this act itself. Let us stop discrimination and violence now when we have the chance or we will never be able to ensure that the victims such as Haley Morris-Cafiero and Leslie Jones will have an easier future.
Barlinska, J., Szuster, A., Winiewki, M, (2013) ‘Cyberbullying among Adolescent Bystanders
Role of the communication Medium, Form of Violence, and Empathy. Journal of
Community and Applied Social Psychology
Bhat, C. S., Chang, S.H, Linscott, J.A. (2010). ‘Addressing Cyberbullyin Literacy Issue’ .
New Horizons in Education Vol 58, No.3
Chen, L., Ho, S. S., Lwin, M.O, ( December, 2017). ‘A meta- analysis of factors predicting
cyberbullying perpetration and victimization: From the social cognitive and media effects approach’. New media and society, vol.19(8)
Economist, (April 12, 2017) ‘Why bullying in Japanese schools is especially traumatic’
Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/asia/2017/04/12/
Katie Rogers and Jonah Engel Bromwich. (2017, December 21). Hackers Publish Nude
Pictures on Leslie Jones’s Website. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/movies/leslie-jones-website-hacked.html?
Nieves, E. (2018, September 20). They Body-Shamed Her Online. Then This Photographer
Struck Back. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/lens/
Tanrikulu, T., (August 18, 2014). Cyberbullying from the perspective of choice theory
Department of psychological Counseling and Guidance, Fatih University, Istanbul, Turkey. Vol.9(18), 660-665. Doi: 10.5897/err2014.1761