This is a continuation of a series called, “The Internet, Social Media & Game Systems Are a Mission Field.”
Now that we have stepped on the soapbox, aired out the complaint, let’s take a look at where do we go from here?
I am the type of person that has learned from experience that it is easy to complain about something but the challenge comes when coming up with a solution to the problem. These days it is very easy to point the finger at someone else, but few step up to the plate to make a difference. Especially when it comes to online activity, someone can post anything they want and remain anonymous.
There are a few reasons besides the cyberbullying aspect of posting and not knowing how to conduct one’s self on the internet. There is always a deeper meaning to just about everything we do and say, even if the person is unaware of what he or she is doing. So I am going to start with the perspective from the cyberbully, the oblivious offender and anyone who simply airs out dirty laundry for the public eye to see.
As this article is the second part to this series of articles, I want to help you understand the perspective of the offending party. I think it is important to see both sides of the problem and I think it will help us lead into the next portion of this article series, which will be practical steps towards posting healthy online living.
The Cyberbully –
Growing up as a kid I never once thought I would have to worry about being bullied on the internet. School itself had enough bullying problems as it was and that includes from elementary school all the way through high school, even college. Regrettably, I have been on both sides of bullying. The end result is never nice and it sucks when it happens. But why does it happen? This is a spot we could camp out on for quite some time. So let’s cut to the chase and define what I mean my bullying and cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying boils down to anyone who posts negative, harsh, belittling content on the internet, gaming venues or simply a text message. Cyberbullying falls under the bullying umbrella and is completely associated with bullying. There is no grey area of what bullying is. If you are not saying the content face-to-face, it is cyberbullying.
Now typically, as stated earlier a bully traditionally has been easy to point out in a crowd. The bully is someone nobody wants to cross or become an enemy of. However, cyberbullies have no face, no name, no identity. They lurk and troll websites, social media, video game rooms, texts, chats, etc. These guys/girls are not as easily defined or found. Sometimes even untraceable. So how can we identify this group of people? While, the person might be hard to identify, the content is not hard to find. Simply head over to a popular YouTube channel/video and you will see many people who post hateful, distasteful, ugly comments. The most cowardly posts will come from those with private profiles or will block their comment from being replied to.
The cyberbully will post anything to get a rise out of someone, to teardown an individual and belittle. The internet is the easiest place for a bully to flourish because the lack of personal face-to-face communication. There are no consequences of seeing how the negative words effect a person. There is no way for the recipient of the bullying to counteract or defend. The comment is left with no regard that the recipient is wounded. Someone if left hurt or least the opportunity for someone to become hurt.
“Hurting people hurt people.”
This quote really sums up the heart behind a bully. As much as it sucks to be bullied, the fact is, bullies are hurting people. Behind all the roughness, crudeness and cold-hearted comments, there lies a person who is screaming for help. There is a new concept I have learned from taking some of my counseling classes but life has been just as much of a teacher than anything when dealing with how to raise a child. Children do not know how to handle emotions, feelings or unknown territory. Therefore, parents have the task to teach their children how to handle this bunch of variables that contribute to how children behave. Depending on how the kids are taught how to handle such situations, depends how they handle themselves even as adults later down the road. Teaching kids how to react to these things will have to be another post for another day, as this subject in itself can be a series. But in a nutshell if kids have not been taught how to react properly to emotions, feelings and unknowns they will have to learn the hard way later in life. Sometimes these people never learn, but it is a factor we must consider when dealing with bullies.
Bullies are hurting people inside and because they do not know how to handle themselves they take it out on others. Unfortunately, there is some sort of satisfaction in seeing others suffer. Bullying is a means of venting. Other things to consider is you might not know the background of which the bully is coming from. They could come from a broken home, physically/emotionally abusive family, may not have received the kind of love needed from parents, was picked on as a kid, was pushed over the edge at some point or is a product of the atmosphere they are in. If mom or dad are bullies, then chances are the kids will become a bully themselves.
There is always more to the bully than what we see on the surface. They have not been taught how to deal with their emotions, feelings and unknowns and because of this we as the recipient or observer of the bullying must keep those things in mind. But how do we move from observing and being run over to making a difference in a bully’s life? Obviously this depends on the individual case but I want to leave you with some general troubleshooting tips of how to handle a cyberbully.
- Do. Not. React. Take a step back and analyze the situation. Does the situation need to have any reply at all? If so, carefully lineup the details, then pray about what to say. The ole cliche’ What Would Jesus Do? actually has a lot of truth and wisdom behind it. Even if you’re not a Christian it is a very safe bet if you react as how Jesus would, you are going to have a higher chance of resolving an issue.
- If you feel upset, again take a step back, pull yourself together and take a deep breath. Bullies want a reaction and most of all want to see the recipient upset. If the bully sees the recipient upset, it fuels their fire for more attacks. Don’t feed the bully.
- Consider there is more than what meets the eye. Ask for wisdom and understanding of why the bully is treating people in such a harsh way. Remember, they might not have been taught how to handle themselves and it is up to you to literally demonstrate how to react.
- Simply ask how their day is going.
- Maintain a positive attitude. If they are returning customers, eventually they will wonder why you are always nice, polite and full of grace. At that point you can take some ground back and start to win them over.
- Pray for brokenness. Ask God to intervene and show you how you can help. While in the state of brokenness we are vulnerable and that is where God can make a huge difference. Think of Saul who became Paul. That dude was the biggest bully in that day and God turned his life around to become one of the most influential followers of Christ in history.
- Consider you could be the small seed in someone’s life that turns them around for the good. You may not see results right away or at all, but you can really be the difference in someone’s life.
- Invest. Breaking the bully might take some time, money and effort to stop the bullying. Chances are the bully has a track record and doesn’t just pick on one person. If you notice a trend you could simply pray about what to say and when to say it.
There really are a number of ways to confront a cyberbully. The key is to remember bullies are hurting people taking out their hurts on others. My prayer, hope and goal is to help talk through some of these struggles and start making a difference online, which is just as much a mission-field as any other physical place in the world. Cyberbullies are not fun to deal with by any means, at times it might seem pointless to intervene, but if nobody tries to reach out to them, who will?
What are some ways you think we can make make a difference in a bully’s life?
Side note – If you would like to talk about anything, struggles, etc. I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me and let’s talk about it.
*Photo Credit: KiwiCommons