Cyberbullying: A Personal Experience

Last night, as with all nights, I was tuned to BBC radio. There was a feature on Cyberbullying spurred by the suicide of a 15-year old girl from Canada. It was a tragic story given that only five weeks ago, the girl had “uploaded a video to YouTube describing years of bullying that she said drove her to drugs and alcohol.” Her cry for help was misjudged as a pathetic search for attention. Clearly, no one bothered: The bullying continued and she eventually took her own life.

I pondered on the story while listening to various experts views on why cyberbullying occurs and what can be done to prevent it. While their views were insightful, I found it disconcerting that they seemed to focus on Cyberbullying among children.

Those who have been using social media for quite a while know very well that Cyberbullying is a reality among adults. As the number of social media users in Kenya increases, certain issues arise regarding the use of various sites. Concerns have been raised over Hate Speech, Incitement as well as Ethnic and Religious Targeting. But few of us are talking about Cyberbullying.

Experts say anytime you are harassed, humiliated or threatened online it’s cyberbullying.

As the country’s SM user crowd grows there are those who seek to stand out and make a name for themselves whichever way they can. Some, more so the tech savvy, will result to Cyberbullying.

This was my experience in the last 24hrs:-

It all began with a tweet posted by @TheKimutai

I found it hilarious and took the liberty to retweet it.

Little did I know my actions would give one @IddSalim reason to make false accusations against me and finally insult me.

To Idd, by retweeting that tweet, I was in agreement with something – I do not know what

Translation: Why is @Nittzsah in agreement with Kimutai’s tweet?

To which I responded:-

Translation: Was I to seek your permission before retweeting that tweet?

To which he inisted

To which I responded:-

Translation: What would I be in agreement with? Was the tweet an opinion poll question?

Then came the insult. A demeaning, chauvinistic, sexist reference to menstruation meant to shame me to shut up.

To which, I walked away.

Perhaps my silence gave Idd some sense of satisfaction or.., victory. For what? I cannot tell. Why he felt compelled to bully me, I do not know. Perhaps, someone will offer some insight at the tail end of this post.

Someone once told me, the Internet can be vicious, especially when you make the wrong people mad.

I refuse to differentiate  tweeps as “wrong people” and “right people.” I consider all of us as equals. Whatever your career, your paycheck, your level of education, your political ambitions and corporate affiliations, – we are all the same. No one is boss of the other.

By viewing tweeps as “wrong people” that only means that there are those among us who consider themselves as superior to the rest. When did we get to this point? And for the “right people” who revere the “wrong people” when did you start kissing ass? You never knew many of the people on Twitter before Twitter, why should some have the right to humiliate the rest? Is walking away the solution when all it seems to do is give Cyberbullies the confidence to keep harassing others while entertaining the disengaged onlooker.

Is there any justification for Cyberbullying among social media users in Kenya?

More importantly how can we put an end to this fast spreading menace?

PS: Should you wish to comment on this post, don’t waste your time insulting Idd. Your comment will NOT be moderated. Only offer solutions to the problem of Cyberbullying in this country.

11 thoughts on “Cyberbullying: A Personal Experience

  1. I don’t think that was cyber bullying, or maybe I have the definition wrong. That was just a brief exchange of tweets. Cyber bullying has to be repeated and over a long period of time

      • I see alot of personal vindications in here. Classis Kenyan.

        As MMK said, if you think this was bullying, then this will go down in history as the biggest over-reaction. This is like saying someone is trying to drown you after they poured a drop of water on you.

        But I still apologize. Heartily.

  2. Bullies, whether virtual or real, are tricky. Some will back off if you fight them. Some will increase their bullying once they realize it’s getting to you. Wise men say the best way to defeat your enemy is by being nice to him/her, but it takes a stronger person than me to do that. I generally reason with bullies, just in case they really are the stereotypical ‘wounded on the inside and just needing to be understood’ types. Sometimes I lose my temper and lash out. Most bullies, especially the cyber-type, should really just be ignored, because it’s the attention that spurs them on. Don’t feed the troll and all that. Or you could just find them and punch them, which might not solve the problem, but feels a lot better than ignoring them.

  3. My thoughts on Cyberbullies are the same as my thoughts on real bullies. They are wrong. They know they’re wrong. We know they’re wrong. But if there’s no rule of law to deal with them, we in turn must learn how to socially police them.

    The easy thing to do is to punch back, and like CB said it feels very good, but that’s not the only way to get rid of these people. We must always learn to take the high road and stab downwards. Or find strength in numbers.

    *checks the reader count *

    Yeah, that always makes me feel better.

  4. I didn’t realize how strongly I felt about this till I read this. I had an incident about some time ago and while it made me furious what was worse was hearing what said bully was saying to others. It’s meant to be a discussion if you humiliate me or put me down simply because I questioned the validity or basis of what you said, then why are you there in the first place.I find bullies hate to be called out for untruths and of course bullying. I like you chose to walk away and unfollow.

    I guess what I’ve done or learned to do is walk away even if as it so happens I know the person In Real Life. I keep away and let them continue with their madness though sometimes I do try to check them when they are on someone else’s case.

    I can’t stand them but it sometimes feels like it’s easier to check them when they are on someone else’s case than my own.

  5. Kenny Rodgers sang it best in his classic, ‘The Gambler’:

    “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away…….the secret to survivin’
    Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.”

    Cyber-bullies / Trolls are like worms; you feed them your rage/attention and they’ll only grow in confidence. Best solution: starve them of your attention. And if it just so happens that you know & can access the bugger in real life, well, bitch-slappin’ stupidity out of someone ain’t illegal yet is it? (Let the force of your slap / blow be proportional to the weight of your anger. That way, any after-effects eg. snitching to cops, will be well worth it!)

  6. So by bringing up ‘time of the month’ this person thought he had won some kind of battle of wits and words? Actually, in my opinion, any time someone brings that up it’s obvious it’s a drowning man clutching at straws. Since you have nothing left to say that carries substance, you decide to demean by using a natural bodily function.
    As for bullying… yes… this is deemed cyber bullying. Whether it was done once or repeatedly over a period of time. Clearly some sort of insecurity must have risen in him to resort to such trolling. Pretty disgusting that someone feels powerful by putting others down. Psychological issues seem to be a great part of this person’s life. Get help, troll.

  7. 2 things.

    1st Apologies for the clear misunderstanding we are having here. The last jibe was not meant to inflict as much harm as it, clearly, has. Let me know how I can apologize better. *No hidden meanings*

    2nd – I will ignore all the comments above. They are all based on juvenile conjecture and lack of better information. All is forgiven.

  8. I think you got yourself into it at first until it got dirty… Coz the way you reply to such people also matters. You could have chose to just let it go at the very beginning

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