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Bullying — The Pursuit of Empathy Online

Why empowerment and confidence wins, no matter the circumstances.

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“I will never become a victim of bullying.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock (Image has been modified)

Believe it or not, this is the consensus among the masses and oddly enough — I too was part of that mindset, until of course it happened to me. Prior to about 2016, cyber bullying seemed elusive as a concept, outside of more recent headlines making way from social media. Some incidents tragically ended in apparent suicide, which is as dreadful as it sounds. Yet there is hope, given the research being conducted on the typical bully and what drives them.

Yet in short, we are finding there’s much more going on than meets the eye, when it comes to bullying. According to the website Stop Bullying Online, (a government resource geared toward educating the public, education institutions, religious and workplace leaders), stopping a bully in their tracks is key to avoiding a repeat. More over, they’ve taken the initiative to teach children and their parents not only to spot it, yet also how best to avoid it altogether.

The most universal reaction to the frequently observed absence of empathy online, is that cyber bullying simply isn’t the same, when considering the amount of pain and level of torture a victim can potentially experience from bullying — in comparison to the amount and intensity of potential exposure if bullying takes place in person. However, consider the number of people observing the bullying online, especially with the average number of followers one may have in today’s era if influencers — sometimes ranking as high as celebrities in popularity. This amplifies the effect of the bullying, which is why I beg to differ with the perception of in-person bullying having a stronger more hurtful impact than cyber bullying (absent physical violence).

Having experienced a recent episode of cyber bullying from April to October of 2019 online, until my *digital-campus took strong action, I experienced first hand the horrid events that quickly made me realize, that this view of online bullying couldn’t be further from the truth; it hurts just as badly with cyber bullying as others have described by their own accounts, being bullied in person.

The intimidation, embarrassment and shame of being tormented, isolated, and singled out is nothing to laugh at, and is most likely blown off by the would be victim; and should therefore not be blown off by others, if observed.

The person being bullied is simply trying to distance themselves from the bully, and aren’t aware that by not taking action — the bullying may likely worsen in both intensity and frequency — as was the case with me. Bullying in any form should be taken quite seriously.

As we look forward to the future, moving into realms where we may seek a machine or some form of artificial intelligence Including apps to help us relax, or to possibly become our friend, we must first come to terms with how we treat one another on a daily basis – both online and off as humans, before we can successfully venture out into the unknown in pursuit of empathy and mutual respect, online.

Without shedding too much light upon the bully in my case, we’ll just say it was a female who feared I may have been chosen to replace her in a high leadership position, after she saw a few of my credentials. Given the fact that we are both female is what was so shocking to me, in an age where women benefit most from stickIng together to defeat the “glass-ceiling,” for example.

All things considered, I might also add that to see girls and women doing a fair amount of the bullying these days, is definitely a cry for help from our society. Females have traditionally been the voice of reason, softness, and fairness on all fronts, when less than pleasant situations arise, is why I was stunned to learn she’d picked on my working at the courthouse, calling to ensure I actually did what I’m known to under mediation/arbitration. She called my school and made false claims, as well as my law fraternity leadership, the largest law fraternity in our nation. The quieter I kept, the more the bully tormented. That is, until she was eventually kicked out of our groups after one brave professor explained how our laws on students taking part in court activities differed, from state to state.

In the end, when all was said and done — she was made to leave ‘all’ of our groups, yet I remained. And while the bully tried to also bully the professor thereafter they came to my rescue — her attempts at bad professor reviews online were short-lived. This was of course after her train of terror had already caused destruction. And so, there I stood – damaged, embarrassed, all upon a grave misunderstanding of how things worked within our state with regard to allowed law student activity within the legal court systems, under an attorney or otherwise — depending upon competency and the number of cases settled.

The sad part of this situation is that it’ left the newer people I worked with, a tiny tinge of doubt about me as a law abiding and productive citizen of society, because doubt was raised all on jealousy and a weak understanding of the facts by none other than the bully. The good news is that I was nominated for a national award under information technology not too long thereafter. Clearly all of this could have been avoided yet looking ahead, here are five points to consider if you have been or are actively being bullied. Please consider that by removing even one of these elements could potentially stop the bully from successfully bullying you;

  1. The idea of online bullying taking a serious toll seeming impossible to many is part of the problem. Therefore, we should be able to identify it, call attention to it by accessing and utilizing available resources, and ultimately stopping it as well as any potential repeat.
  2. Until we recently began to see a surge online and in the news, where headlines involving teens committing suicide were front and center in the media, while others spoke of those who chose the terrible route of retaliation, usually resulting from bullying, or some form of one having been singled out; showcasing instances including lone gunmen seeking revenge where they were singled out. Such instances as those being kicked out of school turning violent were situations that were rare if not unheard of not too long ago. Today we see it in the news almost monthly.
  3. Now, we the former victims can speak out without fear, that we may move into the next stage of healing. The bully wants to single you out, make you feel alone so that they can continue to attack you. So tell someone, speak out like I do — publicly! Age, race, sex, looks, social economic status… None of these make you immune, since bullies simply do not discriminate!
  4. Consider that unmindful actions of bullies feel like being punched — emotionally.
  5. And last yet surely not least — the fifth tip is that you must engage in self-care. Bullying is a form of abuse and can come in many forms, yet is no less, still abuse.

“Of the many people who watched my heart-felt video, nearly 2,977 people quickly reacted, ending with what I believe to be nearly 4,444 views before taking it down. I’ve since removed the video to focus on empowerment. 96% of the people who watched the video (according to video analytics), did so in full and responded with comments such as; “Stop the Bullying Now” and “Stand Up & Say No To Bullying”.

If you are reading this, consider this a “Call to Action” should you see bullying taking place. Stand up and be the voice for the voiceless victim, who may believe they have no other recourse (safety first).

Stand up to bullies so they can’t stand against you!

* digital-campus – This incident did not take place at Pepperdine University

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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