As I was browsing through my Facebook, I noticed a status that was disturbing- but not shocking in anyway. Someone posted: “If a girl is over 160 pounds, then she needs to be slapped if she is seen eating anything other than a salad.” One of my friends posted a status about how upsetting the post was. Reading that status tempted my friend to regress into old habits of bulimia.
This happens on social media every day. People sit behind their monitors in a state of anonymity and say hurtful things without thinking about the effect it can have on another person.
Cyberbullying is a huge problem.
The anonymous nature emboldens the negative behavior and dehumanizes the target. Think about it. It is easier to say something hateful if no one knows who you are. It is even easier to do it if you don’t have to see who you’re hurting. This phenomenon is seen in kids and adults.
High social media use makes a person feel worse about their self. The “look at how awesome my life is” approach to social media cultivates a fear of missing out or fear that you are not good enough. In addition, social media itself gives a false sense of connection. There’s no actual support system. Social media lulls one into feeling connected and then stabs them in the back with anonymous jabs to self-esteem.
Any kind of cyberbullying is bad, but sending out a message for all the world widens the harmful effects.
Saying a blanket statement like “you need to be slapped if you don’t meet my ideals” is harmful to not only the intended target, but also to other people struggling with body image issues. In this specific case, this one comment made someone who has been in recovery for bulimia for many years struggle.
It is important to know that what you say online can affect people all over the world. Sometimes those effects can be life threatening. Any kind of bullying is bad, but the widespread use of social media on bullying can have catastrophic effects to people’s mental and physical health.