The word “bully” has become common due to the prevalence of negative interactions within online communities. People may think that bullying is confined to cyberspace. The truth is that bullying also occurs in the real world—in educational institutions and in the workplace—where it has been an issue for many years.
Bullying refers to any form of aggression, mocking or prejudicial behavior, either physical or emotional. When it occurs in the real world it often takes the form of teasing about someone’s appearance or social standing, but it may also involve physical harm. Online bullying, on the other hand, tends to take the form of social media attacks. Bullying frequently results in deep emotional trauma that can ultimately become difficult to treat. Some situations deteriorate into physical altercations that can lead to serious injury.
Threatening behavior and bullying are not easily distinguished from one another. Bullying usually occurs when one party wishes to exert their power and influence over another party whom they deem to be in some way inferior. It might be as simple as a stronger person picking on a weaker one. The first time this behavior happens, the victim may be quick to offer forgiveness. But when bullying is repeated over an extended period of time, it can result in the victim feeling stressed to the point of seeking revenge. Moreover, the transgressor – or bully – often has clear objectives in mind, such as wanting the other party to feel ashamed, hurt, embarrassed or inferior.
Several types of people engage in bullying behavior: those wanting to have a bit of fun, those having momentary feelings of anger, and those suffering a lapse in decision making. While these moments may be fleeting for the bully, they can result in lengthy periods of emotional distress for the victim. Being aware of techniques for responding to a bully can help a victim escape the emotional, physical and social injuries caused by such behavior. Effective methods for dealing with a bully include:
In our world of technology, bullying is no longer restricted to the physical world. Anyone can become a victim of bullying via social media at the hands of someone they have never met, or carried out by a group of online bullies. It is even possible that these attackers may never have explicitly intended to bully another person.
Therefore, it is crucial that we are all aware of online behaviors that can potentially cause others to feel terrible, inferior, ashamed, and embarrassed. Take a deep breath and think carefully before you share, like, write a message or say something on social media that could cause such harm. No matter how many times we apologize or how quickly we delete a post, the emotional harm is likely to remain in the mind of the victim for a long time.
On the other hand, should you be unfortunate enough to fall victim to cyber bullying, it is crucial that you are aware of how to respond. Stay calm, remain patient and respond in an appropriate manner. Don’t retaliate, and avoid becoming stressed or feeling overly anxious. Try to lead a positive lifestyle in a suitable environment, and stay away from potentially toxic social media interactions. Most importantly, should you find yourself feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, be sure to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist who can offer treatment appropriate to your individual situation.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Mahidol University