Cyberbullies and internet trolls can cause real harm
The tragic death of Caroline Flack has brought the issue of social media trolling and cyberbullying into sharp focus. While we can only speculate what caused her to take her own life, the vicious insults she was subjected to on social media may have played a part.
Most of us don’t have the high public profile of TV presenters, but online bullies and trolls can still affect us. However mentally tough you are, if it happens to you it can be extremely difficult to cope. The strategies below may help you deal with the situation.
- Don’t engage with the trolls. This is what they want you to do and it’s what they thrive on. Challenging them just leads to more abuse so, hard as it is, try to ignore hurtful comments.
- Report the abuse. If they have used unacceptable or violent language the posts can be taken down.
- Remove yourself from social media as much as possible. Staying away from the negative comments will help put them in perspective and stop them feeling overwhelming. Find things to do in real life so you’re not relying on social media.
- Try to separate people who disagree with your opinions but don’t attack you personally and those who just want to cause hurt. Free speech gives us all the right to have our say, but that’s not the same as attacking the person who speaks.
- Confide in someone you trust. Whether it’s family, friends or a colleague, tell them what’s happening and how you feel. It’s not weak to seek support and knowing there’s someone who understands what you’re going through is a massive help.
- All those ‘perfect’ lives you see on Facebook and Instagram aren’t the whole picture. Social media encourages us to project an idealised image of ourselves that doesn’t always reflect real life. Behind the scenes many people may be feeling just as bad as you are.
Always remember that you are not the one at fault; the trolls and cyberbullies are the problem, not you. Don’t let yourself be their victim.