The effects of cyberbullying, which can occur anytime and anywhere via email, social media pages, messenger, tweets etc can be devastating. Cyberbullyers also comprise people who are in top positions of companies.
Social media can be a blessing or curse; it can elevate one’s self-esteem or shatter one’s image. Cyberbullies spare no one, be it celebrities or common people who have been harassed and trolled by netizens. They chance upon grammar mistakes or looks of a person. In a recent event, a journalist, Richa Barua was subjected to cyberbullying by a senior director of a cloud marketing company who body shamed her.
The journalist shared a Times of India's article titled 'Dear society, please stop asking married people when they will have children'. Within a few hours, a Facebook user by the name of Ravindra Pai, a senior director of the company commented, "For ugly people like you, overweight and fraught with diabetes, please don’t have broods." (SIC)
Many of the journo’s friends, came out in defence of her, not before she was already distraught by the comment.
Though one is expected to show strength and resolve in the face of such comments and bullying, it is easier said than done.
A few years ago, an MBBS student committed suicide by jumping from her college building. After scanning her Facebook account, police found out that she took the drastic step due to online harassment in the form of comments made by a classmate on her posts.
In another incident in Kerala, Ooshmal Ullas, a 23-year old student of KMCT College committed suicide, after sharing a screenshot of the bitter comments posted in a college confessions page named KMCT Xposed – MBBS Confessions.
A 20-year-old student, Gurmehar Kaur from Lady Shri Ram (DU), was threatened with rape and murder for raising her voice and for launching a campaign against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Kaur had to deactivate her FB account amid threats. She rushed to the police station and file complaints of online harassment.
Social media experts believe that it is easier for netizens to resort to bullying as they hide behind computer screens and do not have to directly face the intended target.
Multiple people targeting a single person can cause the victim to become overwhelmed with negativity leading him or her to resort to drastic measures.
According to reports published in MyAdvo.com, victims of cyberbullying are 2 to 9 times more prone to committing suicide. 70% of cases and such bullying activities happen over Facebook as its usage is widespread.
While some say hurtful words out of habit, some do it intentionally to target people on social media.
Arpita Kala, a feature editor in a reputed media house, shared her ordeal, saying, "People stoop to strange levels. Recently I wrote an opinion piece about a certain actor who has a history of public tiffs with another actor. His incensed fans launched the pettiest troll attack on Twitter, posting personally degrading and sexist comments about me. It really angered me, but I ignored them. After all, ek pal ka jeena, fir toh jaana right? Later, a colleague told me that his team had called her up asking her to take it down, when she said no, this drama ensued.”
Ananya (name changed), a 23-year-old graphic designer received vulgar messages on Facebook messenger when she shared her opinion about the controversy surrounding the Bollywood movie Padmavat. She spoke in support of Deepika Padukone and Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
"A few people abused Deepika and Bhansali. I just shared my opinion saying it's not good to talk ill about a woman. Within a few minutes, I started receiving hurtful and vulgar comments, that I can't muster the courage to utter. Some also started abusing my mother and family. Not just men, there was a woman user who also abused me. That was a real shocker. It was really sad and disheartening, I immediately deleted that post and unfriended all of them on Facebook."
DCP of Bengaluru (Crime), S Girish, said, “Such cases which include bullying, trolling, don't come under cybercrime, however. These incidents have to be reported at the local police station. According to the Supreme Court of India, such incidents concern one’s freedom of expression and speech.”
He added, "Cybercrime officials will get involved when there are obscene pictures, morphed pictures or account hacking. Cyberbullies are common among politicians, actors, and sportspersons, but we send them back instructing them to block the users. There are no clear laws or regulatory guidelines to handle this complex issue."
So, what does one do, but return to Facebook in the search of help.
Last Updated 8:17 PM IST