– Winifred Ononikpo

Any form of innovation always comes with its pros and cons. Overtime, we have witnessed or read about the evolution of the media from the traditional (newspaper, radio and television) to the more sophisticated means (magazine, billboard, film, fliers and posters) and the most recent of all, the new media popularly known as the internet.

The internet is multimedia. It incorporates attributes of the other means of communication – text, picture, music and video. In as much as the internet has proved to be very useful in pedagogy, its downsides have not gone unnoticed. The internet hosts many sites among which are social networking sites such as YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, and the two most popular, Facebook and Twitter. Social media was developed for keeping up with friends and family as well as share multimedia files with the general public. But nowadays, people get cyber bullied on these platforms.

Cyber bulling is the use of information technology (the internet) to repeatedly harm or harass other people in a deliberate manner. The keyword here is deliberate; the perpetrator’s actions are carefully thought out in advance and meted out through slander, mean words, insults, or they are just plain rude.

It is a more understandable situation is if people with erratic egos lash out at each other. But when people who have this aura of superiority lord it over their counterparts, it becomes a problem; it’s a classic example of cyber bullying. People carelessly throw words such as ugly and fat around. Recently, I witnessed a girl get called out because she said she will not like to get married to a full time engineer. Someone posted a picture of her and captioned it “Just look at the thing that doesn’t want to marry an engineer. Like her body doesn’t need major repairs”. I mean, this is wrong on every level; no one should be made to feel less than who they are.

People who are cyber bullied often end up with low self esteem or become bullies themselves because there is the need to make others feel their torture. In more serious cases, it may even lead to suicide. The more pitiable situations are the ones where relationships go south and one partner goes as far as posting their significant other’s nude pictures on social media while calling them names.

These days, people cannot even be plus sized in peace. They are called names such as GP Tanks, planets and all manner of ridiculous stuff. It beats me because these are people who signed up to have just as much fun on social media as other users turned cyber bullies. I’m particularly appalled by the lot struggling to be tagged “demon” or “devil” because apparently, mean is perceived as the new cool. People discover other people’s weaknesses and strike them where it hurts the most.

Cyber bullying has no positive side. It is clear abuse of the purpose for which the internet or even social media was created. It is bad enough that people get harassed physically for whatever reason but taking it to the web where you mess up a person’s psychology is much more damaging. A person is not within your physical radius but can hurt you just as much or even worse than a person who is.

Cyber bullying in any ramification should be discouraged and those fueling the egos of these cyber bullies are just as guilty and are part contributors to whatever becomes the fate of cyber bully victims. Cyber bullying should be discouraged by either cautioning the perpetrators or better still ignoring them so when they see they are not getting any LOLs or LMAOs or RTs, they stop. By curbing cyber bullying, you may be protecting someone’s life in the process.

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