Six Instagram Influencers come together in this post to talk about the negative effects of social media, where online bullying and trolling can be an everyday occurrence for creatives.
'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can really hurt me' is a modern twist on a childhood rhyme from our school playgrounds that holds relevance in our digital world. With the internet right at our fingertips we’re all at risk of being targets of online bullying & trolling, where words are sadly used as weapons. While social media is widely used by the majority of us as a platform to connect with others, inspire, and build businesses from creative talent, for a minority group of people these platforms are used in a more harmful manner. With the intention to slander businesses and hurt social media users, this minority of internet trolls hope to destroy the success of others.
“Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones, But Words Can Really Hurt Me."
From an outside perspective it is hard to truly understand the harmful effects online bullying can take on someone without having experienced it yourself. This is why Pleasure Spot decided to interview different types of women who are prevalent in the Health & Wellness Industry today. By interviewing multiple women from different areas of social media, Pleasure Spot hopes to give you a better insight into the experience of others, and try to navigate you through the dangers of social media, if you find yourself on the receiving end of this behaviour.
Kellie Maree, a Photographer, Mum and Business Owner highlights the progressive change in her perspective when experiencing this behaviour from adolescence to adult years, as well as the evolution of digital media posing a risk of this behaviour to young children.
Kellie Maree: Mother, Photographer and Business Owner highlights the dangers of living in the 'digital age'.
“In this day and age it’s far too accessible for bullies to reach out to their victims. In this 'digital age' everything is 98% through social media and as we all know, the age of girls having access to these avenues is getting younger and younger. To put this in perspective for you, I am an almost 30 year old woman and still to this day I can tell you exactly what was said to me back when I was 15 years old and in high school, being bullied by a group of girls, and what’s worse is I can still feel the exact same pain as I felt back then. “Worthless”, “waste of air”, “nobody wants you around”, these are among some of the hurtful things I would hear.
Now imagine if we had all the resources back then that the teenagers have now… I would be BROKEN.
The nights spent crying, the days spent with anxiety, and all that through school and the occasional MSN chat or MySpace post. Now add in the use of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Facebook etc. The bullies don’t just go home and call it a day anymore, as a matter of fact they choose to do all their dirty work through the resources of social media, which children as young as 7 have access too. When a bully has a target set in their sight they very rarely will ease up until they’ve gotten what they wanted which in their eyes is “success”, knowing that they’ve hurt the intended person. I am still (as an almost 30 year old woman) dealing with the occasional online “troll”.
Now, these “trolls” are just the same as the 15 year old bullies but they just didn’t grow up and they are still seeking validation through the form of making others feel bad. Since a young age I have struggled with anxiety and this has not been made any easier by falling victim to these online trolls. It’s caused me many sleepless nights, many meltdowns, I’ve lost friendships over the years due to this and it’s because of these reasons that I am TERRIFIED of the day that my own daughter discovers social media and comes across someone who feels so low about themselves that they must break down her self-esteem and her self-worth to bring themselves back up.
Now as I sit here as a grown adult I can honestly tell you that 15 year old me would be proud of how I handle the trolls because I’m not just doing it for myself or for my daughters generation but also for my younger self, to give a voice to that young girl that nobody cared to protect.”
“Our words are so powerful and hurt more than sticks and stones, so choose them wisely and empower each other. It might take a moment to make a comment but this can rein over someone for a lifetime. As the saying goes, ‘hurt people, hurt people’.”
If you’re active on social media right now you will either know someone or know of someone who is competing or has competed in body building or fitness modelling, with annual shows debuting this time of the year. A sport that requires extreme self-discipline, grit, confidence and patience to achieve is quickly undermined by superficial comments that serve no purpose other than criticizing one’s physique and passion. Steph Collins, a paramedic who has also achieved an NBA Sport & Fitness Pro 21 & MFA Fitness Pro 21 title speaks on the comments that women in this industry - her industry - receive.
“As a bodybuilder I put a lot of effort into maintaining a fit healthy figure, following strict calories and training programs to bring a good package to the stage. I post my progress as I am proud of what I have achieved and know it inspires and motivates others, as I too like being inspired by other professional bodybuilders on my socials.
Steph Collins: Pro Bodybuilder's accomplishments tarnished with comments on social media, calling her 'manly'.
I personally don’t take offence to any comments or give them a second thought as it’s not worth the time and energy when I know I’m happy with who I am.
Cowardly comments to bring people down on the internet behind the safety of the computer screen can cause significant emotional damage and impact a person’s self esteem. Sometimes it only takes one person to talk someone down from a cliff or cause them to jump. Our words are so powerful and hurt more than sticks and stones so choose them wisely and empower each other. It might take a moment to make a comment but this can rein over someone for a lifetime. As the saying goes; ‘hurt people, hurt people’.”
Not a lot of people are lucky enough to be held accountable for all their past bullshit in front of the entire world. I’m mortified and sad at who I used to be. I was an insecure, attention seeking troll. I am ashamed and completely embarrassed at my behavior but that...— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) May 12, 2021
The saying ‘hurt people, hurt people’ is a belief also held by mum, business owner and wellness mentor Dayelene Robinson, which she explained at a deeper level, suggesting we’re not consciously aware of the pain we inflict.
Dayelene Robinson: Wellness mentor, Mother and Business Owner, highlights that unhealed trauma is the cause of most online bullying.
Seem cliché right? But let me just explain it a little deeper.
“Subconsciously we project our inner thoughts and feelings into the world, sometimes without even being aware we are doing it. This happens when we have been living in our pain body for so long it becomes a part of our identity. What stems from this is a false sense of self: more commonly known as the ego.
The ego isn’t all bad and plays its roll in seasons of our life; when we are in survival mode it will act as a protection almost like a warrior shield as your inner world is at its emotional threshold. When we hold onto such a deep level of unhealed trauma low vibrational emotions such as fear, guilt, jealousy, resentment etc., we are literally robbing ourselves of being able to fully embody love, joy and enlightenment. If you find yourself in the firing line of someone who is bullying, manipulating or gaslighting you, know this is a deep reflection of their unhealed trauma.
It is NOT your responsibility or duty to take the front end of it, in fact my suggestion would be if they are close to you to, bring it to their awareness on how they are making you feel. If they don't see a problem with how they have been treating you, distance yourself. As for online bullying from acquaintances, fake accounts and people you don’t know, block them and wish them healing, DO NOT RESPOND to their messages or comments. Yes, it's easier said than done, but you are your biggest priority and bullies do not deserve a place in your world. Know your worth and that you are so worthy of ONLY loving, encouraging and supportive people in your life, do not ever settle for anything less!
"You are your biggest priority and bullies do not deserve a place in your world. Know your worth and that you are so worthy of ONLY loving, encouraging and supportive people in your life, do not ever settle for anything less!"
Jessica Beale: Instagram Influencer and queen of living large, won't apologise for presenting her true self to social media, she says 'if you don't like it, simply unfollow'.
“I have experienced online bullying on several occasions where people have written nasty comments on my photos. I really don't understand why people especially strangers feel the need to comment and message people such nasty things. I don’t get why they don’t simply unfollow my Instagram if they don’t like the content I post. I’ve had fake accounts write horrible messages to me but i don't pay much attention to it; i delete the inbox and block the account. Kindness is free and the world needs more of it, so be the change you wish to see in the world!"
“Online bullying is something I have experienced a lot, as I’m totally a “live my life out loud” sort of babe and I bring people on my everyday journey through posting stories on my Instagram so my following can see the real and raw me. Most people vibe with it, others not so much but, I’m cool with that as I choose to live my life the way it is. I know I am a good person with a huge heart and I would never say the hurtful things people say to me.
Casie Caldwell: Sydney socialite has fallen victim to bullying and trolling on social media.
The approach to quickly dismiss the hurtful comments doesn’t come as easy to some, the frequency and severity of bullying can have an emotional impact in different measures from one person to the next.
For myself and anyone that has access to the internet (everyone) is going to be exposed to being the potential target of online bullies & trolling. The more someone peaks in their success and creative light, is at the same degree to which some people are triggered to express jealousy, anger and hate. I have experienced this from two different mindsets over a few years of awareness and self-growth. The comparison for me holds a lot more wisdom than taking the general advice from others like “don’t listen to them”, “it’s just words” or “they’re just jealous”, because let’s face it for those who have never experienced it, words have the capacity to wound us deeper and longer than a physical altercation.
We can battle the online bullies by challenging their words but we’re serving their purpose more than our intention to stand up for ourselves. It's a hard reality but we can’t control anyone’s behaviour and it’s going to be impossible to completely prevent it in this digital world, which leads me to believe the fight isn’t against the bullies, the fight is always to remain true to you.
"Words have the capacity to wound us deeper & longer than a physical altercation."
I discovered at certain periods of my life or just the off day here and there when I felt a little self-doubt or I wasn't believing in myself or my work, is when I noticed I was weakened by these comments and I couldn’t help but feel the devastating emotional effects from it all. Stepping into my personal power with more confidence and belief in who I am and my purpose was powerful, with this mentality I built a resilience to the negative behaviour of others and the nasty comments weren’t penetrating my emotions as deeply as they had been in the past. My advice to anyone experiencing this today is; you’re not alone in this, your shining light is going to disturb those who can’t see the light within themselves and most importantly to use that emotional disturbance directed at you as fuel to the fire that keeps your passion thriving towards success.
From what the ladies and I have shared in this article collectively shows how the negative influence online bullying and trolling can be channelled in different ways from one person to the next, as well as the challenge experienced for each individual.The personal experience of being on the receiving end of bullying and trolling is saddening, but also inspiring; In this adversity, an empowered state of mind can be found.
The dark reality of this type of behaviour is that the negative impact can leave people feeling defeated in the emotional fight, especially when your experience -over long periods of time - can weigh heavily on one’s ability to overcome the battle. The seriousness of this behaviour is testament to those who have been driven to tragic endings because of it.
Glenda Wilds: Writer and Business Woman who does not diminish the toll social media trolling can take. She reminds us, that we're never in it alone.
When looking at supporting bodies for cyberbullying, there appeared to be a vast selection of help sites for teenagers, which is wonderful for our younger demographic, however the support groups and information for adults is quite sparse. One group called the Cybermsile Foundation contains a wealth of information and guidance on online bullying & trolling from Social Media to Workplace Cyberbullying which you can access here - Adults – Cybersmile.
Further to the support group above, If you find yourself actively experiencing online bullying & trolling, ensure to speak to those around you and to contact social media platform administrators such as instagram.com/community/anti-bullying for assistance in reporting the behaviour.
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