We recently received this email and I thought I would respond to it here so that others too can add their thoughts:
Dear CyberBullying.us ~
I recently discovered your website as I was wandering the internet. I read some of the stories on your site and I would just love it if you could publish my words. I am 18 from the UK. I have been using the internet since I was 4 years old. And I have had some experiences with ‘cyber-bullying’, as it is now called. Funny, we used to call it “people being idiots”.
As most people who have been actually bullied in real life will tell you, cyberbullying is really stupid. “Oh no. Some girl said to me in an email “ur fat lulz”. I’m scarred for the rest of my life.” Nowhere NEAR as bad as getting hit, punched, abused, ect.
I myself have had many arguements over the internet, ranging from ones that are deeply personal to stupid things. (Such as who runs the police department on a game.)
However, I feel that people are getting used to a cushy real life, going on the internet and expecting it to be all cuddles and joy. It is NOT. And it isn’t in the ‘real world’, either. I’m not saying that bullying isn’t wrong, but I am just saying that it’s a tad immature to go whinge on and on about some immature kid who called another immature kid names OVER THE DAMN INTERNET. ITS THE INTERNET, SERIOUSLY, COME ON. THEY CAN’T HURT YOU. Just dish out what they say right back to them.
Always letting my opinions be heard.
Thanks for your thoughts. We agree that all forms of bullying are hurtful and that the physical effects of “real life” bullying can be very damaging. I will disagree with you, however, when you assert that the effects of cyberbullying are trivial or inconsequential. To be fair, a lot of things said and done online are relatively minor and should be ignored, but there are a lot of very serious instances of cyberbullying that result in long term harm to those who experience it.
As an 18-year-old adult, it may be hard for you to understand, but as a young teenager developing through adolescence, peer approval is everything and what your peers say to you online and off can have dramatic effects on your daily life. And the fact that a victim can never really remove him or herself from an online bully makes it even more difficult to handle. Some people say that victims can simply turn off their computers or cell phones to remove themselves from the situation. Those who have been to our presentations know that this simply isn’t an adequate response. For one thing, you don’t have to be online to be cyberbullied (e.g., if I create a web site containing rumors about you and then circulate it among others at school). Also, since when has it been appropriate to blame the victim? So I am being cyberbullied, and now I can’t use my computer or cell phone? Pretty ridiculous if you ask me. But, if you don’t believe me, and still feel that cyberbullying really isn’t that bad, feel free to contact John Halligan or Tina Meier, or any of the other parents here in the U.S. who recently lost their children due, at least in part, to the effects of peer harassment carried out online. Cyberbullying was so unbearable for these teens that taking their own life was evidently a better option for them than living with the torment.
Thanks again for the comment and I am hopeful that you will come to understand that even though cyberbullying is not physical in nature, it is still harmful. In the words of a 14-year-old girl who told us about her cyberbullying experience: “They say sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. That quote is a lie and I don’t believe in it. Sticks and stones may cause nasty cuts and scars but those cuts and scars will heal. Insultive words hurt and sometimes take forever to heal.”