As Zimbabweans, we have a tendency of normalizing the absurdities, and as such, scammers, bullies, trolls, and all sorts of vagabonds are celebrated on social media as celebrities and talk show hosts despite their vulgar filled rants and bullying tendencies.
Some time ago, an image of a bully was associated with a big guy offending classmates in the schoolyard. But the advent of Internet gave rise to new forms of bullying. Modern hooligans do not need to leave their rooms and can make just several mouse clicks to spoil peers’ lives.
Since young people almost live in the digital space, virtual threat brings no less harm than real one, can hinder victims’ well-being and psychological state. If facing a bully in a real life, a person may suffer several minutes of pain and shame, run away when torture ends and have a break until the next attack. But cyber criminals do not allow their victims to hide and rest. There is no calm even at home. Constant messages, likes, comments, sharing may drive a person mad. This process never lets up, leads to nervous wrecks, turns teenagers into stressed and intimidated persons.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. 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 causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.
With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online – both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content – creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved – not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it.