Cy-ber-bul-ly-ing: The use of information and communication technology to cause harm to another person.
In Monica Lewinsky’s Ted Talk about her experience in 1998 with the President of the United States, she says:
“It was easy to forget that, that woman was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken”.
She was a victim of cyberbullying and online harassment and she was not aware of it because it was before a time that cyberbullying and online harassment were prevalent. The people who spread her story and shared her personal information without even knowing her did not treat her as a human, but rather an inanimate object that was there for their entertainment. Cyberbullies and internet trolls seem to be unaware of the damage they are causing to living, breathing, human souls- this seemed to be the case in Amanda Todd’s situation with the humiliation and horror that an anonymous troll caused her.
Listening to Monica Lewinsky’s story I immediately made connections to what happened to Amanda Todd. They both were victims of online harassment that made life unbearable. Things that they thought were private were made public without compassion or consent.
As Monica pointed out in her speech, “every day online, people, especially young people who are not developmentally equipt to handle this, are so abused and humiliated that they can’t imagine living to the next day- and some tragically don’t- and there is nothing virtual about that.” A lot of people online do not understand that their harassment online translates to real life. It does not just go away when the computer is shut off and their phones are put away. Online harassment and cyberbullying have the power to publicly humiliate someone and it can all be done anonymously which puts the power in the hands of the person at the other end of the computer. Cyberbullies and internet trolls have the power of being anonymous and thinking that they are invincible or untouchable, “keyboard warriors”.
I found this visual about cyberbullying in Canada, and I thought it was a powerful way to represent not only the victims of cyberbullying but also the people that do the bullying. Retrieved from here.
As an educator, I want no one’s parents, families, friends, and other loved ones to have to hear the words “suicide”, “online harassment”, or “cyberbullying” again. By being an advocate for teaching students to be responsible digital citizens and compassionate online users, we can create a ripple that turns into a wave.
My heart goes out to anyone who has been a victim of online harassment. or has lost someone due to online harassment. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to Kids Help Phone online or call them at 1-800-668-6868.
You are never alone, there is always someone there- do not be afraid to reach out.
– Julia ❤