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Cyber Bullying: The PERSON Behind the Screen

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Today I was happily browsing the vast musical world of YouTube when I was suddenly confronted with the blatant and ignorant power of bullying. I was listening to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” and happened to scroll down to the comments. There a woman was being attacked by two thoughtless creeps. Not, of course, physically attacked, but the effects might be the same. This woman had commented that she liked the song, and that her drill sergeant had let her training group perform drills to it. A young man replied to her comment, criticizing her for several spelling errors and claiming she never could have been in the military because she was so dumb. He called her a liar, and several other names. At first I thought it was a typical troll, and was proud of the woman when she defended herself quite ably. But then another jerk joined the discussion. He said that not only was she a liar, she was obviously so obese that she could never have served our government. He said he knew how fat she was because of her profile picture, in which he estimated she weighed “about 300 lbs”. And then he told her to go kill herself. She replied that she had family and friends and a son who loved her and had no intention of killing herself. And here is when I read the comment that literally made my jaw drop. The first kid returned and told the woman that “while *******’s comment wasn’t very nice” it “obviously hit a nerve, and you must be really concerned about your weight”. Then the second jerk told her if she couldn’t change her lifestyle and lose weight she was worthless. I stopped reading. I want to point out a few things, a few of which are obvious and a few of which are just now dawning on me.

I am not sure which of these two boys was worse. The comment about her being sensitive about her weight just floored me. If I commented on a YouTube video and was in return told to kill myself, I would consider it utterly within my rights to say exactly what I thought to the a**hole who said so. Not only that, but if someone made a personal comment about my weight, height, hair color, number of toes etc. I would not have been able to act with as much poise as this woman did. Without personally insulting either of the immature internet hooligans who had attacked her, she defended herself. Is this at all odd? Because the first boy seemed to think so. For instance, what if someone said something racist to me? I would probably reply that I am proud of my heritage and that no one who knows me has any problem with my race. If someone replied to that with a comment about how I was so concerned with race, I need to just let it go or get plastic surgery, obviously-OBVIOUSLY this would be wrong.

The second boy might still with the prize for insensitivity because he told her to kill herself. Considering that fact that all sorts of people read TeenInk, let me make something CRYSTAL CLEAR: it is NOT okay to tell someone to kill themselves. This is a crime against God and man. No matter whether you know someone or not, this is an evil act. Cyber bullying gives cowardly creeps a shield in the form of a computer screen, from behind which they throw insults and profanity without discrimination for who they hit and hurt. They can no longer see who they are injuring, and they do not care. I know that people face bullies every day in school and elsewhere, but I think this is an important aspect of bullying that in not addressed as often as it should be. Saying unkind things to people online is thoroughly unacceptable behavior. If you ever find yourself about to send an unkind message, comment, or post, please reconsider. The being on the other side of the screen is a person, just like you.



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