Alaysia is back this month to talk about social media, cyber bullying, and how to keep yourself safe. Please give her a warm MB welcome!
One night while scrolling through Instagram, I began to notice several messages from a friend. These messages weren’t for me, but I began to notice a pattern. Some were hard to read because I just couldn’t believe I was actually witnessing my own friend aggressively cyber bully a girl for her choice of religion. There were many back-and-forth comments as my friend continued to nag on this girl, claiming her choice of religion was all wrong and there was only one religion to follow without being sent to a horrible afterlife.
Later on, a boy I didn’t know began sticking up for the girl along with others, including myself. However, the boy began using profanity and threatening my friend for bullying the girl. Right before my eyes, I watched this situation grow and grow into a battle, both my friend and this boy were publicly humiliating one another.
I finally decided to step in and stop it. I privately sent a message to my friend saying he was better than that and that we all have a free choice of religion. I urged him to understand there are differences out there and that everyone has a right to believe in whatever they want to believe in.
I also private messaged another boy who’d gotten involved and told him I didn’t know him but understood that he felt he needed to stick up for the girl. I pointed out that he was definitely bullying and it needed to stop. The boy said, “You know what, I hate bullying and I can’t believe I degraded myself to that level of scum!” He apologized to me. I told him, “No, problem but I’m not the one you bullied so please apologize to my friend.” After that I never heard from him again, but I know I did the right thing by stepping in to defuse the situation.
This situation is completely minor compared to others. Some stories of cyber bullying have been outright sad and depressing. My peers have taken their own lives because of cyber bullying, and it needs to stop. When it comes to having access to a variety of social media, I believe there are a few steps that can be taken to make sure you keep yourself safe—both mentally and physically.
Since I’m only allowed to use Instagram and Snapchat, I’m going to focus on those two platforms.
1. Work WITH Your Parents, Not Against Them
First, my parents have access to both my accounts at all times. Sometimes, yes, I think my privacy is being invaded, but deep down I know it’s to protect me and even my friends.
2. Keep Your Accounts Private
My mother will periodically check my accounts to assure I stay in a private setting, which I suggest for anyone out there. We don’t need strangers accessing our personal information. It can be tempting to make our accounts public, but when we do, we open ourselves up to those who may not have our best interests at heart.
3. Only Accept Requests From Trusted Friends and Family
I only accept friend requests and followers from friends and family. My mother will periodically check to make sure it stays that way. People can pretend to be anyone they want out there in cyber world, so we can’t believe everything we read.
4. Think Before You Type
This might be my biggest and most important piece of advice. I encourage you to think before you type. If someone has upset you through social media, just walk away from the device. Go outside, watch TV, or hang with friends. You could also talk to a friend, a teacher, a parent, or anyone you trust about the situation. They may be able to help diffuse whatever is going on or simply give you some peace of mind. You’re stronger than any bully, and it’s really not worth the time to invest your emotions.
Please share any other tips or strategies you’ve learned in dealing with cyber bullies in the comments!