It's Not A Myth: The Harmful Power Of Anonymous Cyberbullying

It's Not A Myth: The Harmful Power Of Anonymous Cyberbullying

Making yourself anonymous doesn't mean your words are powerless.
A significant result of the digitization of society has been the increase in cyberbullying, a 21st century form of bullying among teenagers.” –Paul Miller

Some people may not have heard the term "cyberbullying" before. Some may have heard about it and argued that cyberbullying doesn’t exist. Still, others don’t believe that people can be cyberbullied, that the anonymity of one’s words has no bearing on others. A large majority of people agree that it’s merely teenagers joking with each other.


Cyberbullying by definition is: The use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.

How does cyberbullying occur?

Unlike bullies, cyberbullies engage in anonymously berating people as it makes them less mindful in their cruel, online endeavors. Cyberbullies are often found taunting people in Internet polls, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter posts, Tumblr blogs and in online gaming lobbies and matches.

Why do people cyberbully?

People cyberbully one another to obtain a position of power. They are driven by rage, a sense of revenge and frustration. Some people do it because they have a lot of time on their hands. Other people do it to invalidate others’ circumstances in an attempt to be funny. Cyberbullies also feel like they have more leeway to shame and denounce others who express themselves over the Internet for entertainment. People likely become cyberbullies because at some point in their lives, they were cyberbully victims.

This occurrence can be lessened by reminding the victim that productive activities such as hiking, deep breathing, going for walks, writing, drawing, exercising, yoga, and meditating are a few healthier, positive ways to empower themselves. Rarely, will people cyberbully others out of blind stupidity, unless they’re with their friends. By stupidity, it means ridiculing people impulsively. Some people cyberbully others because they feel weak. They might’ve felt as if they had no say in anything; because they felt they weren’t able to defend themselves or voice out their opinions in person, derogating people online gave them a sense of feeling invincible.

In what forms does cyberbullying manifest itself?

Cyberbullying is exhibited through racist, misogynistic, homophobic, ableist, transphobic or xenophobic cyber threats or insults, exclusion, impersonation, cyber stalking, harassment, flaming, gaslighting and gossip. Cyberbully-gaslighting occurs when cyberbullies attempt to intimidate others psychologically. Cyberbullies more so gaslight people they know (e.g. a friend, someone they're dating, spouse, domestic partner or blood-family-member). Flaming, defined as a written form of emotional, psychological and sexual abuse used over social media or online forums, is when cyberbullies intimidate and insult people with the confidence that they don’t have to show themselves. While many cyberbully-flamers will instigate disputes on almost anything, some are found attacking others when they are, for example, making conversation with one another. Foul comments, emails or messages that signify blind fury and absurdity are examples of flaming. A way of recognizing if someone you know is being flamed, is to recognize their emotional reaction to the messages they've been sent.

Cyberbullying victims are two to nine times likely to commit suicide than those who are not victims of the aforementioned tactics. Moreover, about 58 percent of people who are cyberbullied admit to their peers that they have been cyberbullied, while one in four students have said it has happened more than once. Though cyberbullying is commonly associated with Caucasian women and men, statistics, which factor race and gender, show that cyberbullying is more common among black women than black men. Sixty percent of females reported being a victim of cyberbullying, which was 10 percent higher than males.

In my junior year of high school, I was friends with two of my peers. They’d often smoke weed. Whenever I'd hang out with them, they'd ask me when I'd be up smoking with them. At the time, I wanted to try it because I felt like it was going to cure my depression and post-traumatic stress. I was still unsure. I was reluctantly thinking maybe, but, at the same time, I kind of didn't want to say no to them. I did smoke with them a few times. After hanging out with them for about two weeks, I started rethinking why I continued smoking with these guys.

I thought to myself: If I continue to smoke, would I be doing it because I thought my mental illnesses and my issues at home would immediately go away? Would I be doing it in hope that these so-called “friends” would continue faking their respect to me? Would I be doing it to be “cool?”

I stopped talking to them afterwards. In that same week, I was on Facebook and posted a status along the lines of: “Smoking weed just isn't my thing.”

I didn’t censure people for smoking. I didn't think anyone was any less a person for smoking. I just chose not to smoke anymore.

I was entitled to my decision to just say no. I was still friends with them on Facebook, unfortunately. Once in awhile, these guys would hurl barrages of insults at me. They made fun of me for not smoking with them anymore. One evening, one of them posted a comment on my Facebook wall snarkily saying: “You need to take a 30-rack of beer to your face and get laid.”

As if their vilification of me wasn't stereotypical and demeaning enough, I stood up for myself. Several days later, these guys continued to comment on my Facebook wall, saying I “sounded like an old man”; a nerd, a loser, who suggested I should just kill myself.

I’m my own person. Again, I have the choice to say no. I can make my own decisions. They don't include lowering my moral standards to benefit anyone else’s.

Don’t belittle my self-esteem because I told you, “No.”
Don’t invalidate my decision because I’ve refused to reconcile myself to your stereotypical idealizations of me.

Again, words can hurt, in person and online.

Cyberbullying is a major issue. We can’t expect anyone in this society to open themselves up to anyone, trust anyone and receive treatment, if we are unwilling to acknowledge what cyberbullying is, that it exists and how harmful it can be to us. We need to make ourselves more aware of cyberbullying by educating ourselves, being more mindful of what we say to each other and disconnecting ourselves from the Internet.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Social Control

According to Merriam Webster, social control is "the rules and standards of society that circumscribe individual action through the inculcation of conventional sanctions and the imposition of formalized mechanisms." Social norms, rules, laws, and structures within a society are just a few of the methods that keep our society "in-line".


Informal vs Formal

There are two types of social control. There is informal social control which is enforced by family, peers, teachers, etc. and is often referred to as "socialization". Informal social control refers to values, norms, and belief systems of a society. Then there is formal social control which is enforced by the government through police and military. Formal social control refers to laws of society and topics such as terrorism.

For more information regarding informal and formal social control, check out: Definition of Social Control

Positive Social Control

Positive social control is related to the idea of getting rewarded for good work, rather than be hurt for doing something wrong.

For example, you will be given a raise at work if you prove you deserve it, but you will not be tortured if you don't take that extra step. Socialization is the primary way that social order is kept, and is a perfect example of positive social control. There is also a physical organization to society that keeps everything in harmony. Traffic signals, paved roads, and crosswalks are just a few examples of how physical additions to our everyday lives work together to avoid conflict.

There are many benefits that come along with positive social control as well. Raises, bonuses, and praise are all rewards that come along with following rules and norms.

Negative Social Control

Negative social control is related to the idea of discrimination and/or shame. It uses harsh punishment, torture, pressure, and/or threats to keep the peace and order rather than rewarding good behavior.

For example, Hitler used violence and discrimination to keep the Jews "under control" during the Holocaust.

For more information regarding positive and negative social control, check out: Types of Social Control Formal & Informal, Positive & Negative

Examples of Social Control

Religious Social Control

People who follow a religion tend to develop morals and behavior patterns based on what their religion preaches. These people will avoid committing crimes, hate-speech, or anything else their religion deems as "sinful" in order to avoid punishment during or after their death. Many people tend to believe that religion was created with the sole purpose to control people and keep the social order, while dedicated followers beg to differ.

Economic Social Control

Economic social control is attainable by controlling production or controlling an entire society through their economics (cutting off food supplies, stealing from the poor, etc.) Richer people and industrialists tend to control the lower class and their consumers through status and money.

Wealth = Power

Political Social Control

Political social control is the most influential type of social control. The government regulates money, sources and supplies, the laws, police forces, and many more which when put all together becomes social control. The government balances every aspect of what creates harmony and peace within a society, protecting the people from anarchy.

For more information regarding examples of social control, check out:: Social Control: Meaning, Types and Unfavourable Effect

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