It’s a lot easier to bully someone online than it is in the real world. The trouble is, very few people consider themselves to be a cyberbully.
When we make fun of someone else, or embarrass them in public, it can often feel like it’s all in good fun. Just a joke. After all, we all want to be the hero in our own story, right?
Well here are some indicators that you might be the bad guy here. (For the purposes of this article, we’re assuming you consider yourself to be a decent person who doesn’t want to destroy someone’s life.)
Do you go out of your way to make fun of people?
This isn’t the same as teasing mates when they’re in on the joke. We’re talking about serious, mean and repeated mockery. Maybe you don’t even realise that this is a different situation to the one in the first sentence, or maybe you do but think it’s a harmless game. Stop and consider your motives. Even if something’s really, really funny, it might not be worth saying.
Do you act out online because of things happening in the real world?
In a lot of cases, cyberbullies are either bullies in real life, or getting revenge for things that have happened to them offline. Think about your reasons for behaving in an aggressive or insulting way when you’re messaging or talking about people. And while you’re at it, think about what result you’re hoping to achieve with this behaviour.
Are you always getting into fights online?
A lot of cyberbullies say their victim started it, and maybe that’s true. But it’s also not the point, when it comes to finding yourself in constant battles against other people every time you log in. Think about why these fights are happening, and what you can do to avoid them – whether that’s ignoring attempts to get you fired up or walking away when it’s too much.
Have you ever hacked into someone else’s account?
Pretending to be someone else online – whether that’s by hacking into their account or making a fake one in their name – is something most people don’t do. It’s a horrible invasion of privacy that makes the victim feel violated and humiliated. If you’re nodding along enthusiastically, like that’s the point, try telling someone neutral why you think your victim deserves that. Then give that neutral person your passwords.
Do you get too angry or involved with what people are doing on social media?
In this scenario, you find yourself getting all worked up about people’s pictures and status updates, even when they have nothing to do with you. If you feel like you’re more negative than positive when you’re online, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break from social media for a while. If you see a photo or post that gets your blood boiling, shut the app down and do something else for a while.