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Have you been bullied online, or are you in the process of being picked on or otherwise harassed on the Internet? For most people, being called names, having embarrassing photos posted or having someone post very private and personal information on the Internet feels almost like a death sentence. It’s like the end of the world. After all, what gets posted on the Internet is “forever”, right?
Well, that’s what a lot of cyberbully “gurus” tell kids about making online posts – that what you post online you can never take back. The thing is, that’s not entirely true. Other than very rare, high-profile cases where the situation brings in national attention and the story gets spread far and wide throughout the Internet, the odds are actually pretty good that whatever someone posted about you actually has a very small, insignificant audience when you look at the bigger picture.
That’s where the problem comes from – it’s easy when you take part in an online community like a forum or a social network to start thinking that this online community you’re a part of makes up the larger world out there. I’m here to give you a small dose of reality – the world is a heck of a lot bigger than that, and whatever some moron posts about you isn’t really as bad as you may think.
Why Cyberbullies Are Actually Kind of Pathetic
A cyberbully isn’t much unlike a bully at school. They act tough, they appear big and scary, but underneath it all they’re just a scared, little, whiny brat with a very fragile ego that happens to be the size of Jupiter.
Nothing Lasts Forever
When such a person posts something about you on their blog or on a forum, it’s important to keep in mind that those bits and bytes are not forever. Yes, those posts hang around for years – but try finding many of those heated debates and arguments that were published in the old Internet message boards of the 1990s. Most are gone into the ether.
Do you know why you can’t find most of them? Because people die, that’s why. Internet hosting isn’t free, and published pages are only published so long as there’s someone alive who cares enough to pay the yearly hosting fee. So, if you are patient enough, all things will eventually fall off the Internet.
Obviously, if someone has published something that defames you or is clearly libellous, seeking a lawyer’s advice isn’t out of the question. However, for the typical cyberbully fare – insulting observations or snide remarks – it just isn’t around long enough to really have any impact on your life, so don’t let it.
Information Gets Buried Online
Secondly, on the Internet, information tends to get buried, especially on social networks. Yes, something posted that’s especially juicy might get briefly shared from friend to friend – but those rumors are fleeting and when the moment passes, there’s something different to occupy the restless minds of the masses. The bottom line is that social networks are like one big junk pile of words.
Eventually, whatever nasty thing someone said about you will end up at the bottom of that pile, buried by all of the nasty things people have said about other people. Again – it’s not as bad as it seems, and it will go away in time.
Better Content Gets Better Visibility
A third interesting aspect of nastiness and rumors on the Internet is that ultimately the more well-written and carefully crafted content on a certain topic will get more visibility. What I mean is, if someone has posted a quick jab at you or maybe they’ve even written some nasty blog entry about you, all you have to do is out-perform them in search engine rankings for your name, and what will people see when they look for you online? They’ll see what you’ve said – not what some idiot cyber-bully said.
Trust me, I’ve got into my fair share of fights and debates online, and have had plenty of nasty things said about me. The thing is, if you produce enough content online about yourself, and mention your name enough in a positive light on those pages, you will get the right information about yourself out there.
Too many people worry about having anything about themselves on the Internet, but if you think about it, the less you have about yourself online, the more visibility the words of a cyberbully will get.
Your goal is to drown out the words of the bully with so much content and noise about yourself that those nasty statements will never see the light of day.
Tell Your Side of the Story
And more importantly, the fourth thing that you should do is actually something you shouldn’t do – don’t ignore the bully. Don’t slink away in embarrassment and shame. Go after them with everything you’ve got. Whatever they say about you – give your side of the story. Better yet, a carefully crafted response can make the bully himself or herself look like a complete moron for how they handled themselves.
Embarrass them and shame them for how poorly they handled themselves in public. If you can’t write well – then find someone who can and tell them what was wrong about what the person did. Have your friend craft a scathing response and then post it yourself. There is no reason you need to cower or run away when attacked online – a single response is all it takes to turn embarrassment for you into embarrassment for them.
People Care About You
Finally, the most important thing to keep in mind when you’re being bullied badly online is that anyone actually reading the mean and nasty things a bully is saying about you are more likely to take your side than theirs. While many of the people reading online bullying might remain silent – out of fear of being bullied themselves – they sympathize with you, they feel for you, and they hate the bully.
Trust me – everyone hates a bully. You may feel two inches tall, but you’ve got most people feeling bad for you, and most people looking at the cyberbully like she or he is an idiot.
The world is on your side, not theirs. Everything else aside, that’s the one most important takeaway from all of this. Everyone is on your side, and you’re not alone. Cyberbullying can be some of the most hurtful, hateful things that a person – most often a teen – has to suffer through. But, in all honesty, while it may feel like the end of the world now – in just a few years you’ll look back and wonder how and why you ever let that moron even bother you.
Stay strong, stand tall, and charge your way past the naysayers. In the end, you’ll be better off than them. And, in the famous words of comedian Chris Farley of SNL fame, that bully will most likely “…end up eating a steady diet of government cheese, and living in a van down by the river!”
Have you ever been cyberbullied? How did you respond? What advice would you offer to teens suffering through different types of cyberbullying? Share your insight and experience in the comments sections below.
Cyber Bullying Via Shutterstock,Different views of people Via Shutterstock, Paper Bag over Head Via Shutterstock,Isolated Loudspeakers Via Shutterstock, Pile of Metallic Waste Via Shutterstock, Young Couple in Depression Via Shutterstock