On October 10th David Molak would’ve turned 17 years old. Unfortunately, he will not be able to see this birthday or any other, having committed suicide in January 2016. What motivated him to take his own life? In a word: Cyberbullying.
This new type of bullying has become more prominent because the internet has become one of society’s main sources of communication. Behind the safety of a keyboard, people feel empowered to stir up contention, to voice their opinion, and to harass others. It also makes it easy to dehumanize their intended target, making their actions seem less inflammatory than they really are.
No one is immune – everyone from the teen next door to the celebrities we see on TV can be victims of this demoralizing and destructive crime.
Music, Movie And Reality Stars Make Cyberbullying Seem Okay
Many people are highly influenced by those in the spotlight. Actors, actresses, singers and reality stars have the ability to manipulate everything from fashion to political views. Sadly, some are using their star power to ruin the reputation of their current frenemy or rival.
Social media platforms are rife with such attacks. According to the New York Times, singer/actress Selena Gomez and ex-beau Justin Bieber have been publicly shaming each other on Twitter ever since their breakup. Taylor Swift has engaged in social media wars with Kanye West, Katy Perry and others. Some of these attacks, or responses to alleged attacks against her, have included public shaming during interviews, speeches, and music videos. And, if she doesn’t respond, her strong fan base has plenty to say in her behalf.
The Kardashian-West-Jenner clan has also been quick to attack. Recently, Rob Kardashian took to Twitter because of his anger at his family’s snub of his fiancé. To get his point across, he publicly tweeted his younger sister’s phone number. And, of course, there is the ongoing cyber-war between Taylor Swift and the Kardashian-West household.
The New York Times article went on to say that some celebrities use these cyber-attacks as free publicity to increase their popularity and exposure. Some stars revel in it, while those in their destructive path experience public shame, humiliation, frustration and anxiety. It is this type of bullying that caused Demi Lovato to announce a hiatus from her singing career starting in 2017.
Even long-time professionals who happen to be in the spotlight have to deal with Cyberbullying. People magazine has quoted Katie Couric as saying that every time she reads negative, angry comments directed at her it is like a stab to her heart.
Cyberbulling On The Rise: What Do Authorities Intend To Do?
According to an article on ZDNet.com, Cyberbullying is up 75 percent amongst Australian children. And those are just those are just the reported complaints. There are likely many who are too intimidated or embarrassed to tell anyone that they’re being bullied. Such increases are a definite cause for alarm. Bullying has lead to violence, severe depression, self-harm and, in the case of David Molak and others, even suicide. What can be done to combat the rise of bullying?
It is possible for a victim to take legal action against the bully, but they need to keep a record of the attacks as proof in court. Lawmakers have been trying to pass stricter laws to dissuade bullying and get the public attacks removed from social media platforms. They are also working hard to create educational programs to help people identify Cyberbullying and empower them to take swift action if they become a victim. Hopefully these actions will lead to a decrease in Cyberbullying in the near future.