How to deal with cyberbullying in quarantine
Quarantine has allowed for a significant increase in time spent on social media—with less outdoor exposure, we often resort to scrolling through Instagram or TikTok as an enjoyable activity.
However, being online more also means that cyberbullying may increase, whether demonstrated through negative comments, threatening DMs, or taunting posts. "Recently, a girl duetted one of my dance videos and said I was 'cringey' and that she wanted to 'slaughter' me," reveals TikTok star Katie Feeney, who has over 2.3M followers on the app. "It's like I'm being punished for putting out a positive message on social media."
Singer and actress Merdix Antwinette, who plays Tonya on Brat TV's Chicken Girls , has gone through a similar experience: "On Instagram Live and Snapchat, people have said, 'You can't sing,' 'You're not a real artist,' or 'You're trying so hard.' Their words really hurt." Without the usual resources to help you cope with the bullying (i.e., your school counselor or friends to rely on), you may be left in the dark on how to deal. See below for simple solutions recommended by Erik Stangvik—Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development for non-profit organization No Bully—that will expel the hate and boost your confidence in no time.
Don't blame yourself.
The first step in moving past the negativity is recognizing that it's not your fault. Don't allow the bully's words to make you feel ashamed of who you are and what you believe.
Revenge is never the answer.
The bully's actions are driven out of insecurity; they intend to have full control over your feelings so that you feel as badly as they do. Don't give them the satisfaction by sending negative messages in return.
Save the evidence.
Screenshot any posts or comments demonstrative of the cyberbullying and report them to an adult. If you continue to keep quiet, the cyberbully may feel like he/she is permitted to continue.
Delete and block.
Reading cyberbullying messages repeatedly will only make you feel worse; instead, trash them and block the account that they're coming from. Instagram even has an automated "offensive comment" filtering that uses AI to remove hurtful phrases.
Report negative activity to the platform the cyberbully used to target you.
Send any information about the cyberbully to the app or website that they used. Chances are their actions violated terms of service, and they may be removed from the platform.
Learn to manage anxiety.
Finding healthy ways to calm stress from being bullied will make the experience less overwhelming. Practicing positive self-talk, muscle relaxation, and deep breathing is a great start.
Take time each day to unplug.
Break from your phone, computer or tablet for a couple of hours each day to engage with the world around you. Read a book, go on a run or help your family declutter the house—staying in tune with your surroundings will help clear your mind.
Share your feelings with others.
Just because you may not be getting as much face-to-face time with peers, teachers and counselors doesn't mean they aren't still at your disposal. Reach out to a person you trust via email or text message to lift your spirits or talk to family members within your household for advice. Social distancing may leave you feeling more isolated than usual—but you're never alone in your battle against bullies.
For more information on No Bully, visit nobully.org.