Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Dark Side of the Internet

By Cathy Yan, Assistant Editor

 

Nowadays, as technology becomes more and more complex, bullying is no longer confined to real life where punches are thrown by the bike racks and mean comments are accompanied by a shove into a locker. Instead of the victim finding sanctuary at home, the presence of social media sites create another platform where bullies can harass the person with inappropriate posts and threatening messages. Like many others, I have been on both ends of the cyberbullying spectrum. There definitely were days when I was too scared to check my phone for fear of what it would hold, and there are messages I wish I could take back.

An example of the former would be when I was at camp in sixth grade and someone took a very unflattering picture of me without my permission and spread it all over the internet. Looking back now, five years down the road, I am able to laugh as the picture showed me eating a gigantic sandwich mid-bite, my face greasy with acne, and my shirt far too tight since they ran out of my size. However, at the time, it was a shock for me to go on Facebook and find this picture on my virtual wall with the caption, ‘FaTtY’. To add insult to injury, the majority of comments were from my friends, none of which defended me. It was mortifying to see everyone laughing at me in such a public space, where teachers, parents, and counsellors have no power.

On the other hand, a year later, I took a picture with my friend Jane, who was a late bloomer and still had some baby fat left. As a perverse way of getting subconscious peace, I made sure the angle the camera was at flattered only me, making her features look ruddy and blurry. Using the same low tactic I was the victim of, I posted the picture only with a slightly more grammatically correct caption: ‘Before and after models for a weight loss pill.” Needless to say, my rudeness and insensitivity wrecked our friendship, but it provided a valuable lesson for me to learn: bullying, in any shape or form, is not okay.

To be honest, I had it easy. A few body-shaming comments received at twelve years old, when everyone is feeling insecure and ruthless is not excusable, but can be grown out of. Both pictures have been deleted off of my Facebook, and nothing detrimental has happened to or been caused by me since. However, other people, the ones who get death threats on a daily basis because of their beliefs or get shamed relentlessly and cruelly for how they look or act, are not as lucky. As the internet is such a vast and anonymous space where anything can happen, the only thing to do is to be compassionate, report those who make life difficult for others, and stand up for the people who live life in fear of their phones.