Technology exacerbates teases, taunts and rumors
Bullying. Most people hear this word and imagine some kid getting shoved into the lockers.
But I hear this word and picture a text, a screenshot and the rapid spread of rumors through the interwebs.
What initiated this change in perspective? Experience. I know how it goes. Based on how I was treated five years ago, I could not understand that three years later, I was the bully.
But if I don’t physically touch someone or verbally abuse them, it’s not bullying, right? Wrong. Bullying can start with a simple screenshot on a group chat, but can escalate quickly. It’s something I was guilty of but didn’t understand at first.
“Did you see her latest Instagram post? God, she’s such a … .”
Speculation over what happened in that photo, or how someone appears in a photo leads to gossip — or worse.
With the internet, no one will ever tell you things to your face, and what they say to others is uncensored. It becomes an enormous tangle of “he said, she said,” and gossip becomes twisted because of a single text or share.
Soon the individual being targeted gains a reputation. And they don’t even know why.
It’s not like you can report your entire school for bullying if you are eating alone at lunch because no one wants to sit with you, or if you’re the odd one out in group projects because they believe some rumor posted online about you.
Today, it’s nearly impossible to blame one source, and that’s why, contrary to what we are taught, it’s not as easy as ignoring someone, blocking a number or hitting “unfollow.”
Thus, the depression that can often result from this kind of bullying can be attributed to something else — it becomes just another “millennial problem.”
This is the real effect of bullying today. Social media makes people feel lonelier because we seek validation from “likes” and comments to validate who we are. Even when you’re surrounded by people or have hundreds of “likes” on that photo, you can still feel alone or sense that something is off or be completely unaware of what people really say about you.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and we are constantly told to put a stop to harmful comments or tell a responsible adult if we witness bullying.
But how can you tell someone when you don’t even know from where or whom it’s coming?
Bullying can start with a simple screenshot on a group chat, but can escalate quickly.