Although bullying has been around for centuries, the technological advances in communication have changed the old adage of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
In the past, bullying was confined to school hallways, public places and the occasional run-in while bicycling on the sidewalk. However, pathways of communication have grown with all the technological advances like the internet, social networking and mobile electronics.
Now, bullying has changed from the occasional taunting to nonstop harassment that can reach a person no matter where he is and even be viewed by thousands of people all over the world via the internet.
One of the most notorious cases of online bullying was the incident involving 18-year-old Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi. Two other students broadcast a hidden webcam of a video of Tyler engaged in homosexual activity, on the internet. This resulted in Tyler committing suicide and brought on national attention to the crisis of emotional bullying online.
The It Gets Better Project was formed out of this and many other incidents of bullying and it calls attention to bullying as a social crisis and dilemma. Not only does the project give support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals but it also gives support to all who are dealing with bullying, harassment and emotional distress.
With all the instances of emotional bullying online, it’s important to understand that there are a multitude of different ways to deal with the abuse.
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to suffer in silence or bear the brunt of the emotional bullying online all by yourself. Regardless of whether it’s informing school officials, parents, counselors or friends, it’s important to let others know about what the situation is. Although this may not completely abolish the harassment, it can decrease the instances, cause negative repercussions on the bullies and give an outlet to express the feelings of embarrassment and sadness that emotional bullying online can inflict.
The internet is a breeding ground for emotional bullying because many people feel they have anonymity on the web. Whether it’s chat rooms, social networking sites or other online forums there are certain steps that can be taken in order to deal with the emotional bullying online.
Many sites have ways to block correspondences and report content. Blocking certain screen names and web addresses is a great way to eliminate back and forth comments being spread online. This is great for instant messaging, emails, chat rooms and social networking sites.
Also, it’s important to pay close attention to the privacy account settings on the different sites where you divulge personal information via comments and pictures. Restrict the privacy settings so that outsiders and bullies won’t be able to view, comment or tag any of your personal sites.
Dealing with emotional bullying online can be difficult for people of any age. During the harassment it can feel as though the situation is hopeless and will never end. However, it’s important to remember that things will get better in time. The: It Gets Better Project” is most known for the celebrity Public Service Announcements giving personal stories of encouragement but there are thousands of videos from people all around the world sharing their own personal stories. It can be motivating to hear from real people going through the same struggles with online bullying. Another way to deal with the situation is by easily submitting your own video through the website. Strength in numbers is a great way to offset the loneliness and alienation that can be felt when being the target of bullies.