Anti-Bullying Week: Internet Trolls And Cyberbullying
They're everywhere, like an internet plague.
OK so if you’ve watched Harry Potter, you may know what a troll is.
But what is an internet troll? No, it’s not a grisly grunting monster who has a built-in internet connection (though we feel like the concept of the Teletubbies was almost formed along the same lines as this).
No, it’s a real-life person who hides behind a screen, writing mega-b**chy messages to or about others online, for no real reason. It's called cyberbullying - using digital technology to humiliate, threaten, tease or upset someone else - and it’s absolutely everywhere.
We can guarantee that you’ve either been a victim of cyberbullying, or have seen celebs being cyberbullied in the news.
Unfortunately there are now a million ways to bully others online without having a face-to-face confrontation. It means internet trolls can say whatever they want without any repercussions. It's also easier for them to forget that the person they are victimising is an actual, physical human being with feelings to hurt.
A good examples of the horrors of cyberbullying was earlier this year when Leslie Jones was viciously attacked online after the new all-female version of Ghostbusters came out in July. She got a huge flood of hate messages that were both racist and sexist, and you had to see it to believe it. It was SO nasty.
She publically addressed the abuse on Twitter, leaving the site temporarily as a result of being so hurt. She tweeted, “I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart… All this cause I did a movie.”
Thank god for her resilience, because she was back online within a few days, and the Olympics wouldn’t have been the same without her brilliantly hilarious tweets.
Internet trolls work through online intimidation, but what can they actually do? They feel powerful because they can hide behind anonymous user names and fake profiles, BUT being behind a screen can make them powerless too: they can be ignored. They can’t shout in your face, they can’t run after you, they can’t even get to you if you turn off your WiFi.
And reacting to them only validates their abuse. Abuse that is uncalled for, unfair, and wrong.
Cyberbullying doesn’t always occur in the form of unknown internet trolls, however. It can come from people you know who are targeting you online. Cyberbullying can be extremely nasty, and can occur on social media apps that you use every single day like Facebook, Instagram, messaging apps and chat rooms. It can appear in lots of different forms, from direct harassment online, to spreading rumours, to being specifically excluded from group messages.
While it's often impossible to identify internet trolls, being able to identify your cyberbully/cyberbullies has one advantage - it's much easier to report them and put an end to it!
If you are being cyberbullied, there are loads of places you can get information from about what you can do and how to get support. Bullying UK is a great site to start, or equally NSPCC and Childline are great too.