Almost one in four people in the UK have experienced online bullying, with a 2019 YouGov poll finding 23% of people reported being targeted online.
This week, this is evidenced in the tragic death of Love Island presenter, Caroline Flack who experienced cyberbullying before taking her own life.
Many celebrities have come forward to speak out on the issue, including musician James Blake who’s girlfriend, Jameela Jamil, has herself been the subject of online and print bullying.
This week Boris Johnson’s deputy official spokesman said “The industry must continue their efforts to go further. We expect them to have robust processes in place removing content breaching their acceptable use policies.”
Although, online abuse really shouldn’t be happening – it’s very much a reality online users have to deal with until the ‘powers that be’ do more to stop it. Here are 5 ways of dealing with online trolling:
- Ignore them – although not easy to do, the now famous mantra “don’t feed the trolls” is probably your best bet for managing unwarranted abuse. Like most bullies, they crave a reaction and get bored when they don’t get one. Starve them! The easiest of steps (and one of the most satisfying) is to block / ban them and report them to the relevant platform. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Talk about it – don’t suffer in silence. Tell your friends and family or look to support groups. You are not alone.
- Make your profiles friends-only – making your accounts private limits your reach and interaction with the outside world – but at least you get to choose who you are interacting with – knowing they are kind and rooting for you. This might be especially worth doing if you are feeling vulnerable.
- Online exodus – the most dramatic of steps, but sometimes a period without social media accounts can give you the space and time to breathe; as well as a little perceptive. Alternatively, turn off push notifications so you log on in your own time; or make a habit of logging on when you’re in a particular environment (such as at home) surrounded with family or friends.
- Call them out – a risky move but potentially very gratifying – stand up to them. Like most bullies, keyboard warriors tend to be cowards and quickly retreat when they are confronted. They don’t tend to be masters of debating so fight back with facts; kill them with kindness or reply with humour and let them make a (public) fool of themselves and crawl back under the bridge from whence they came!