What do A-list actress Ashley Judd, former White House Intern Monica Lewinsky, pop star Iggy Azalea, and former Boston Red Sox Pitcher Curt Shilling have in common? They’ve all been targets of cyber bullying. They’re all taking steps to combat it.
A few weeks ago, I talked about Iggy Azalea shutting down her social media accounts because of cyber hatred. That hatred started when unflattering pictures were released by the paparazzi. A few weeks later, Curt Schilling’s teen daughter was the target of cyber bullies and vulgar tweets. Shilling sought out the trolls and took legal action against them. Some, including a New York Yankee employee, were fired because of their mean tweets. Last weekend, Ashley Judd tweeted in defense of her favorite basketball team, the Kentucky Wildcats. The tweets she got back were so hateful and vile that some included threats of violence and rape. She has vowed to file charges against her cyber trolls in hopes these charges sent a message. Then there’s Monica Lewinsky, perhaps the first major cyber bullying victim. In the wake of her romp with then President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, she recalls being labeled on the Internet every negative, degrading name a woman can be possibly labeled as. While giving a TED talk, she virtually declared war on cyber bullying, and used her own humiliating ordeal as a catalyst. Lewinsky also used the TED platform to encourage victims to keep surviving and never give in or give up. She said, “Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: you can survive it…”
I don’t know how which method you feel works best: shutting down, confronting the haters, or encouraging the victims. I prefer the second and third methods myself. At least they’re doing something. I encourage us all do whatever we can to fight this social epidemic. It all starts with us. Let’s watch what we say on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, blogs and other social media. Our words can hurt. Basically, if you can’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online. If you are the victim of cyber hate, call them out on it at first, but don’t stoop to their level. Just let them know you don’t appreciate abusive language. If it persists, don’t hesitate contacting local authorities. There are anti-bullying laws in every state in the US. Stay strong; there are many, many, many other victims who have been where you are. For every hater, they’re usually many more true cyber friends who are ready to love, support, encourage and uplift you. Shouldn’t we be more focused on them?