The content and conversations that we share across social media shape the experiences and influence that we influence. Facebook and Twitter prove monumental in connecting the world in real-time, allowing anyone with a smartphone to break the news and social movements to grow with the use of a #hashtag. It can also be rife with cyberbullying.
According to the CDC, young people who bully are at a higher risk for substance abuse, academic problems, and violence-related problems later into adolescence and adulthood. The connection between such actions and domestic violence only deepen when we recognize that they may indicate that a child is witnessing or has experienced domestic violence at home.
Cyberbullying, the act of bullying through digital means, most recently touched our community when a woman shared messages between an adolescent with special needs & 11 other students. They called him names, they threatened violence, and they demanded that he send inappropriate photographs.
Bullying is often a very public experience, adding to an individuals insecurities and humiliation. As we have found in recent news, nobody is immune to it.
Celebrities & Cyberbullying
Rise to Fame: Disney Star, Wizards of Waverly Place
Standout Quote: “Imagine all the insecurities that you already feel about yourself and having someone write a paragraph pointing out every little thing, even if it’s just physical.”
It isn’t that Gomez experiences a special type of cyberbullying, but being one of the most followed individuals on Instagram (well over 155 million+) comes with a wave of negativity. Gomez actively speaks out against cyberbullying and utilizes her experiences to emphasize the dangers and selfishness that can lurk online.
Rise to Fame: Musician
Standout Quote: “I go on it and there’s nothing but people saying mean things. One comment ruins your day. But that’s why I’ve come off it.”
Sheeran, traditionally known for his singing and songwriting, saw a rise in bullying and backlash after his cameo in Game of Thrones. While his account still exists, his bio states that the account is no longer utilized & the star only shares automatic pushes from his Instagram account.
Rise to Fame: Saturday Night Live & Ghostbusters
Standout Quote: “I feel like I’m in a personal hell. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. It’s just too much,” she shared. “I leave Twitter tonight with tears and a very sad heart.
The extent of Jones’ experience is so vast, timelines have been created outlining the prolonged bullying she endured. The SNL comedian turned Ghostbusters star was inundated with racist, sexist, and hateful comments. She has long endured experiences of cyberbullying, including a time when her website was hacked and littered with what appeared to be nude photographs of her, an image of her passport, and a picture of Harambe the Gorilla. In the aftermath of Ghostbusters (successful) opening night, the bullying of Jones intensified until Jones could take no more and announced her departure from the site.
Rise to Fame: Disney Star, Camp Rock
Standout Quote: “Sitting behind a computer gives people a sense of anonymity, but everyone needs to realize that words- even the ones they write online- have a strong power to hurt people.”
The rise to childhood stardom shined a bright light on many of Lovato’s personal struggles, including bipolar disorder, bulimia, and cutting. Lovato has not allowed these experiences to diminish her voice and has become active in standing against bullying and making clear the effects it can carry. In 2018, Lovato disappeared for 12 days after overdosing at her Hollywood Hills home and checking herself into rehab. She later exercised transparency and addressed her fans, letting them know that she continues to struggle with sobriety and is looking forward to the day where she can say she came out on the other side.
Millie Bobby Brown
Rise to Fame: Stranger Things
Standout Quote: “I have dealt with situations both in real life and online that are soul-breaking and it genuinely hurts reading some of the things people have said.”
At 15 years old, Brown is beloved by the fans of Stranger Things for her portrayal of Eleven. She also demonstrates the definition of resilience, standing against bullying after having experienced it personally. In 2018, Brown announced her departure from Twitter, citing the circulation of memes depicting her as a violent homophobe. Brown’s secondary account, @milliestopshate, is still active but not frequently updated.
At the age of 14, Brown received the honor of becoming UNICEF’s youngest-ever Goodwill Ambassador.
Upstanders Not Bystanders
Bystanders are individuals who witness a form of bullying in action and do nothing. They may walk away and claim it isn’t their business or not know what to do, stand and watch, or even videotape and make the bullying go viral. As a bystander, you may support an individual in private or reach out in friendship, but these actions are hidden and allow a bully to perceive what they are doing as acceptable.
Upstanders are individuals who actively stand against bullying. To be an upstander takes courage, action, assertiveness, compassion, and leadership. Albion’s Primary Prevention program is dedicated to creating upstanders in our community with education within our schools and community.
Take a stand and become an upstander today:
- Take action by telling the bully to stop.
- Take action by getting others to stand up against the bully.
- Take action to help the individual being bullied.
- Take action by shifting the focus and redirecting the bully away from the individual.
- Take action by telling an adult who can help.
Albion is a non-profit sexual and domestic violence advocacy group serving 11 counties in Southern Indiana. Pledge your support today and help us end the generational cycle of abuse.