Why do People Cyberbully?


The use of technology has seen an increase in society today. As the availability has increased, people have made it a part of their daily lives. Many individuals upload every detail about their lives online. What they upload may or may not be true. Some people try to portray the best moments of their lives, while others are more vulnerable on social media platforms. Then, there are those people who pull down everyone else. This can be through means of blackmailing, or by leaving unpleasant comments. This article sheds light on what cyberbullying means and what it constitutes. It also focuses on the reasons one turns to cyberbullying, the effects of this action and how to deal with it.

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What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is a form of harassment, which takes place through online platforms. This mainly takes place through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, etc. Cyberbullying has become more common since bullies find it to be safer, hoping to avoid consequences. Many make fake accounts to do so, since it’s harder to trace back to them, although not impossible. Distance maintained from the victim is another contributing factor in increasing the occurrence of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can be done by classmates, friends, colleagues, or even family members.

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Cyberbullying can be of many types. Harassment is one of them. Cyberbullies harass their victims on grounds of religion, sex, disabilities, etc. Cyber-stalking is a way to find information related to a person online. This can be used to further blackmail them. Fraping, a word derived from ‘Facebook’ and ‘raping’, refers to the action of gaining control of a person’s social media account and posting content that will humiliate them. This is no more restricted to just Facebook, but also to other internet platforms. Dissing refers to the act of spreading cruel information about the victim to ruin their reputation, or in order to gain control over their lives. These are just some ways of cyberbullying out of many other. According to Ditch the Label’s Annual Bullying Survey of 2020, 27% people who faced bullying were cyberbullied.

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Why do People Cyberbully?

While it is known that cyberbullying has become common, it is also necessary to reflect on the reasons why some people might choose to do so. In most cases, there is a notable underlying cause for people to bully someone else. This is the main reason they take to the safety of hiding behind the screen while doing so.

  • Mental Health Issues: Bullying or similar aggressive behaviour might be caused by untreated underlying mental health issues or mental illnesses such as substance abuse.
  • Victims of Bullying: When a person is subjected to bullying, they might think that what is happening to them is unfair, and question why it is them, and no one else. In these cases, some victims turn to bullying as a coping mechanism.
  • Boredom: This is more likely to be a reason among teenagers or young adults. When bored and surfing through the internet, an individual might take to cyberbullying as a form of entertainment.
  • Loneliness: When a person is lonely, they might foster negative emotions. As a result, these emotions are taken out in the form of cyberbullying.
  • Dealing with Conflict: When an individual has a conflict with someone they know but is incapable of dealing with it, they might hide behind an online persona with feelings of revenge.

Factors Encouraging Cyberbullying:

While the above reasons show why a person would choose to engage in cyberbullying, there are other factors due to which cyberbullying is the opted mean, and continues to be so.

  • Anonymity: Cyberbullying gives an added advantage of staying hidden, by still instilling harm to the victim.
  • Lack of Supervision: Many social media platforms are not monitored by parents or associated organizations. Aside from that, a lot of people refuse to report cyberbullying as they are scared of being placed under restriction. This provides an ideal platform for cyberbullying.
  • Digital Footprint: When the cyberbully intends to cause harm to their victim, the internet is a place where they can do so. Due to the digital footprint, getting rid of the harmful content gets harder, making the victims suffer more.
  • Social Media Pressure: Looking at people living ideal lives can be depressing for cyberbullies. They turn to cyberbullying to pull the other person down, hoping to raise their own social media status.

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Effects of Cyberbullying:

Cyberbullies often lack enough empathy to realize that their actions have lasting effects on their victims. Their intention often is to feel better themselves, but that is at the cost of someone else’s happiness. A person who is victim, depending on the intensity of cyberbullying, experiences emotional distress. This is often accompanied by heightened levels of anxiety. It might cause embarrassment to the victim, and pull down their image.

As a result, victims might socially isolate themselves to avoid consequences such as being judged or humiliated. This emotional toll can also effect performance is academic or work settings. Victims might lose their concentration and their will to learn or to move further. This has a lasting impact on their lives as they go forward. Further, if these problems are left unaddressed, it could lead to health issues such as insomnia.

Preventing Cyberbullying:

The first step to put a stop to cyber-bullying is being able to identify it. However, that is not where you should stop. Cyberbullying, if not stopped on time, can give the bully more courage. In doing so, they are enabled to take more drastic steps, or chase other victims. Let’s look at some things that can be done to prevent cyberbullying.

  • Digital Literacy: Educating people about responsible online behaviour and the consequences of wrongful doing is important. This lets people be more careful, as well as stops them from engaging in the act.
  • Parental Involvement: Have open conversations with your child and let them know that this is a safe space. Keep track of their online activities, and assure them that they can talk to you in case something ever happens.
  • Responsible Platforms: Platforms with strict policies and guidelines can prevent actions of cyberbullying.
  • Recognizing Impersonation: When you encounter an account that claims to be who they are not, report it before they do something harmful. Don’t wait for something to go wrong before taking any action.
  • Don’t Discard Evidence: Always keep any evidence of cyberbullying with you in case you are required to provide it to prove that you’ve been a victim of cyberbullying. Take a screenshot of comments that are targeting you before deleting them.
Summing Up

In this digital world, cyberbullying has become a growing concern for internet users. It has also been normalized on a small scale. This is because social media promotes a mob-like mentality. It believes in ideas such as bullying the bully. Since cyberbullying removes the face-to-face part of interactions, it is easier to say things that people would not be able to say to each other in person. By promoting digital literacy, people are made aware of ideal online behaviour, the consequences of actions such as cyber-bullying, and also how to deal with such problems. If you are a victim of cyberbullying, know that there’s always something you can do about it. However, if you are the cyberbully yourself, identify the reason you engage in such actions. Now that you have a better understanding of the effects your actions have, try to work towards letting go of this behaviour by engaging in other healthy activities.

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