“No one likes you. Do everyone a favour. Just kill yourself.” This posting was directly tweeted to a girl by an anonymous account via Twitter. The girl read the tweet in one of the sessions in a popular United States television programme, Jimmy Kimmel Live known as “Mean Tweets.” Her facial expression completely changed. Her self-esteem is totally destructed. She cannot hide her devastation towards the tweets.
“Mean Tweets” session in Jimmy Kimmel Live involves a group of people such as celebrities, politicians and kids who read “mean tweets” about them. The main purpose of this session is to display how those groups of people react towards the mean tweets that were directed towards them.
Although some celebrities and politicians such as Kim Kardashian, George Clooney, and Barack Obama display a humorous reaction towards those mean tweets and created an amusement atmosphere in the recording studio, some others simply did not. They are clearly emotionally affected, angry and hurt by the malicious comments that were directed towards them.
In reality, posting hate speech online about other people is a form of cyberbully. Bullying happens when a person or a group of people with more power in terms of physical or social hierarchy, intentionally and repeatedly hurt or harm another person or group of people who feel weak to retaliate.
Bullying happens when a person or a group of people in many ways such as (1) doing some harm to the bullied by using physical power such as pushing the victims around, beating them and etc., (2) creating fear inside the victim by using verbal threats, (3) teasing such as name-calling, racist speech and inappropriate gender-based comments, (4) boycotting a specific person and conspire with others to give silent treatment to him or her, and (5) making fun of a person in public so that the bullied feels nervous and cuts off socializing. However, cyberbullying is slightly different from those traditional bullying that were previously mentioned due to the anonymity that the internet provides. People can post what they like, comment anything they like to the extent of being who they want and all behind the screen.
Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else online causing embarrassment or humiliation. Cyberbullying is often outside of the legal reach of schools, institutions, and companies since it often happens outside.
Cyberbullying has some special concerns that make it more serious in comparison to traditional bullying. Firstly, cyberbullying happens persistently as digital devices offer an ability to immediately and continuously communicate day and night. Therefore, it can be difficult for people experiencing cyberbullying to find relief.
Secondly, cyberbullying creates a permanent reputation of the bullied. With the prevalence of social media, things like comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The online content that was shared by an individual including negative, mean, or hurtful content, permanently exists in the online domain.
Consequently, it creates a kind of permanent public record that can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible by all including schools, employers, universities, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputation of everyone involved. It is not limited to the one who is bullied, but also include those doing the bullying or participating in it.
Thirdly, cyberbullying is hard to notice. In the case of children, it is hard to notice if they suffer from cyberbullying because teachers and parents may not overhear or see cyberbullying taking place as it happens online unless they seek help.
Cyberbullying mentally hurt the bullied and leads to a helpless feeling, demotivation, and a series of mental distress. Although some people who suffer from massive cyberbully seek professional and legal help, some cases ended badly during the process. Recently, a few celebrities that suffered from cyberbullying ended up committing suicide due to the overwhelming pressure and mental distress.
In the Islamic perspective, every person who suffers from mental distress is urged to return to religion in order to recover, people who use social media are also urged to control their words and not cause mental harm to other people.
In the Quran, Chapter 49, Verse 11, Allah SWT says: “O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule other people; perhaps they may be better than them, nor let women ridicule other women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by offensive nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after one’s faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”
Let’s stop cyberbullying. Social media should be used in spreading love, not hatred. Islam demands people to be kind and preserve a good relationship with each other. Negative postings and comments that emotionally harm other people must be avoided. If we care about others as much as we care about ourselves, we are on the right track in becoming a better person.