In the age of social media, everyone is a slave to his or her mobile phones or tablets. Heck, even my mom can’t get enough of Facebook, and I sure am addicted to Instagram. It connects you to people—friends you haven’t seen in ages, loved ones who have moved away, crushes you’re too shy to approach, and celebrities who don’t even know you exist. It’s just too convenient to turn away. But what if, what if while scrolling you read a bad comment about you, or probably a photo or video that was supposed to remain private? What if you become the victim of cyberbullying?
In the Philippines where I live, this is a common case. Videos of people doing different things are posted each day with a staggering number of likes and shares. Although some of them are admittedly helpful as they make us more aware, some are plain destructive. How do I know? Because I myself was a victim of cyberbullying.
To cut the story short, I was talking to a friend last night about not wanting to participate in an org’s activity because I didn’t want to work with a certain person. Little did I know that that would be the spark that fueled the fire that destroys me. The screenshot was sent to the person involved, which that person posted on twitter with a lot of hateful tweets most of which are not included in the issue. Most of which are just below the belt. Being “twitter famous” that she is, the post became viral and I became subject to judgments and hate messages. I cried myself to sleep that night.
The next morning I decided I couldn’t go to class no matter how much I push myself to. I know people would judge me, not knowing the whole story. That’s what people do, right? Judge. React. Laugh. Heck I couldn’t even go to my favorite tea shop incase anyone there knows me.
I went to the guidance councilor as per my friend’s suggestion and I was diagnosed with temporary depression. In a few weeks, you have to help yourself get over this, she said, or it’ll turn into depression. But how can it not be actual depression when all you want to do is disappear? How can it be temporary when you have no fucking idea how to get over something you have no control over?
I thought cyberbullying was just an excuse for those who cannot take criticism well, until I was the one subjected to it and I can tell you, it’s much much more than that. It gives you sleepless nights and psychological trauma, you can’t eat properly, you wouldn’t want to see people, or contact them. It’s fucking psychological hell and I don’t even know how to go on. I’m not even sure I want to go on.
But if I do go on, it won’t be the same. Wounds heal but scars stay, you see. The damage has been done. Or as Anna Nalick writes in her song:
“And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to.”