It’s time for me to take a stand for those who are being bullied or cyberbullied.
It has become too easy for just anyone to join the cyber bully mob and condemn other people, inadvertently becoming cyberbullies themselves.

I say RESPECT.
RESPECT yourself by being respectable. RESPECTABLE is being ABLE to show RESPECT.
RESPECT the person who committed a mistake — because you have committed a mistake some time in your life.
RESPECT the justice system and allow it to take its course.
RESPECT our country by being positive and constructive. Contribute to the common good.
RESPECT our good Lord, acknowledge that ultimately, justice is HIS.

I've wisened up! I choose RESPECT!
I’ve wisened up! I choose RESPECT!

In this article, I share a part of my past that has helped me take a stand on bullying. I share a story (in the form of a diagnostic cyber bullying exam) to help people be more aware of cyberbullying. I also give tips on what to do if you are cyberbullied or if you are a witness to cyberbullying. Lahat ng ito, para sa bayan.

(Reading time for this entire article is at least 15 mins, as much as 30+ mins)

Disclosure 1: I was a bully

I was a bully when I was fourth year high school.
Most of my friends won’t agree. My friends knew me as a kind person.

It was the younger students — those who received my wrath — they are the ones who would agree that I was a bully.
I was territorial and would scare off the younger students from the “seniors” tables in the cafeteria.

I said, wrote or did things that would embarrass the younger kids.
I spat in front of one freshman. It was masked in an audition of a theater group and I claimed to be playing a role.
But people knew better — they felt the energy I was projecting, they felt my vindictiveness.

I never hurt anyone physically. Unfortunately, I hurt people in more cruel ways — my words and actions pierced their hearts and contributed to the bitter experiences of high school.

My siblings and parents were apalled when they learned about this. It was uncharacteristic of me. My motivation was to rally our batch together. “Solid!” is what I wanted for my batch. The problem was that I was doing it at the expense of other people.

I’ve made my peace with my past. I’ve made my peace with those I harmed. If there are any others who harbor bad feelings for what I had done or said to them, I sincerely apologize. I pray that you would forgive — not for my sake, but for your own sake, for your own healing.

This is where I come from as I write about Cyberbullying. These are what I believe in, these are the principles I live by through my social media accounts.

Cyberbullying Diagnostic Test

Instructions: Read the story. On a piece of paper, answer the questions below. (Names are fictional, inspired by real stories.)

Once upon a time… 

1.) Antong was sleepily walking to work. 

2.) Botchok snatches Antong’s wallet. 

3.) Calmanti, a witness, describes Botchok’s modus operandi on her facebook wall for awareness, so that people may be more vigilant. 

4.) Dislor, another witness, takes a clear photo of Botchok’s face and posts it on facebook with a title: “Snatcher! Magnanakaw!” 

5.) EntengTumbling uses his newly acquired photoshop skills to doodle pig snout and devil horns on Botchok’s face. Enteng posts the modified photo on Tumblr with a sign: “Babala: Snatcher devil piglet!!!”

6.) Flapingpang sees the photo and story about Botchok. She adds a comment: “@#$%#& yang snatcher na yan! Dapat mamatay na siya! (He should die!)”

7.) Gorible posts the photo and story about Botchok on her blog. 

8.) Horinda searches for Botchok’s name and home address then posts it on twitter. 

9.) Ignora retweets Horinda, posts Botchok’s home address. 

10.) Justicia contacts Antong and helps him file a complaint with the proper authorities against Botchok. 

Which of the above are acts of cyber-bullying? Reflect upon your answers.
Take some time to answer the questions on paper. It is important that you write your answers.

Before I share some answers, I’d like to share what I believe in.

Of Social Media, Positivity/Negativity, Bullying, Respect and Cyberbullying

a.) I believe that the Internet and social media are magnifiers. These *can* magnify who you are, both good and bad.

b.) I believe in promoting positivity in this world.
There will always be *some* negativity in the world — I mostly don’t *need* it in my life.
I will leave it up to the negatrons to harp about it. It’s all theirs if they want it.

c.) I believe even sinners deserve respect. Condemn the sin, not the sinner.

d.) I choose to create a positive impact in the world I live in.

e.) Any online action that promotes emotional harm on a person IS a form of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying Defined:

Cyberbullying is a form of harassment
where online tools such as social media, photos, videos, blogs etc.
are used to promote emotional harm on a person.

My Answer Key: Cyberbullying Diagnostic Test

1.) Antong was sleepily walking to work. 
NOT CyberBullying (CB). Just plain lack of awareness.

2.) Botchok snatches Antong’s wallet.
NOT CB. Yes, snatching is a crime, but it is NOT Cyberbullying.

3.) Calmanti, a witness, describes Botchok’s modus operandi on her facebook wall so that people may be more vigilant.
NOT CB. As long as Calma describes the *situation* this is *not* cyberbullying. Note the purpose: Awareness, for public vigilance.

4.) Dislor, another witness, takes a clear photo of Botchok’s face and posts it on facebook with a title: “Snatcher! Magnanakaw!”
This IS CyberBullying. It promotes hatred aimed at Botchok, a person clearly identified in a photo. Botchok can potentially become a victim of bodily harm when people recognize him in public.

5.) Enteng Tumbling uses his newly acquired photoshop skills to doodle pig snout and devil horns on Botchok’s face. Enteng posts the modified photo on Tumblr with a sign: “Babala: Snatcher devil piglet!!!”
IS CyberBullying. It promotes hatred aimed at Botchok.

6.) Flapingpang sees the photo and story about Botchok. She adds a comment: “@#$%#& yang snatcher na yan! Dapat mamatay na siya! (He should die!)”
IS CyberBullying. It is a response of hatred aimed at Botchok. Flapingpang is committing public verbal abuse.

7.) Gorible posts the photo and story about Botchok on her blog.
IS CyberBullying. Because it includes Botchok’s photo, it still promotes emotional harm on a person.

8.) Horinda searches for Botchok’s name and home address then posts it on twitter.
IS CyberBullying. This is a terrible act of violence, really. It paves the way for cyber vigilanteism and bodily harm on Botchok.

9.) Ignora retweets Horinda, posts Botchok’s home address. 
IS CyberBullying. Retweeting or sharing an act of cyberbullying IS an act of cyberbullying.

10.) Justicia contacts Antong and helps him file a complaint with the proper authorities against Botchok.
NOT CB. In fact, this is an act of justice and respect.
Respect for Antong, respect for Botchoy, respect for the justice system, respect for the general public.

I’m sure many people will question my answers above. Here’s my bottom-line:

Any action that promotes emotional harm on a person IS a form of cyberbullying.

What’s on your diagnostic test results?
Mine: Not CB: 1, 2, 3, 10. CB: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
Yours: Share it on the comments area.

What to do when YOU witness Cyber Bullying?

1.) Ignore. Do not give energy to the negative emotions of hatred, condemnation, humiliation etc.
Here’s an advertisement that drives home the message to ignore cyberbullying posts (particularly scandal videos):

2.) Take a stand. Express your position to promote respect and justice.
Here is how I promote respect and awareness. You’re free to use the same statement:

“Dear friends. Please be aware of cyber-bullying. ;-)
By sharing an act of violence on your social networks,
YOU add to the violence in the world. God bless us all.”
– edWIN Ka Edong Soriano.

Take A Stand Promote Respect
Take A Stand Promote Respect

3.) Promote Awareness of the RIGHT instead of just condemning the WRONG

Many months ago, there was a Whale Surfing incident: photos circulated on the web of a woman irresponsibly standing on a whale.

Most people just condemned the act, or worse, condemned the person(s) behind the act.

If the real intention is to heighten awareness, tell the people what is the RIGHT way to do things, instead of condemning a person for doing it wrong.

I love what Jayvee Fernandez and his team did: They shared the RIGHT way of Whale Watching — that’s how we promote respect for environment.  That is how we uphold the RIGHT way of doing things.

Do you have other positive ways for witnesses to respond to cyberbullying? Please share in the comments area. 

Other concerns: Cyber-Vigilanteism and another Disclosure

Cyber-Vigilanteism

Allow me to expound on the impact of posting recognizable photos of people (like #4 Dislor), or posting cellphone numbers or addresses (#8 Horinda), places of work of a person.

Utlimately, all these actions are meant to promote hatred for a person.

By exposing a person’s personal information, it leaves the person vulnerable to being physically harmed in real life, not just emotionally.

Disclosure 2: Seems like Cyberbullying

I HAVE shared something on facebook that may appear to be cyberbullying: A photo of a vehicle with QCPD plate, hogging two parking slots at a public parking lot.

I believe I did not bully any *person*. I believe the best result was if the QCPD disciplined the motorist behind this irresponsible parking.

I DO have a photo that includes the motorist, and I chose to NOT share it. I do not know who the motorist is.

What to do if you are cyberbullied? 

1.) PRAY. Pray for your own strength. You will need it. Pray for the strength and safety of your loved ones.

2.) PROTECT YOURSELF.

a.) Set your social media accounts to private, defend yourself and your own online properties from being vandalized with hate messages.

b.) Take a break from social media.

c.) If you need to be updated with what’s happening (e.g. to be aware of the questions/explanations being asked of you), do so through a trusted friend who can tell you only what you need to hear.

3.) STOP READING HATE MESSAGES. Words have power if you give them power. Words can harm if you allow. Everytime you read hate messages attacking you, you are opening yourself up to more hurt and pain. Save yourself, save your soul. Stop reading. Make peace with your creator and with yourself.

4.) RELEASE A STATEMENT … ONCE! If you feel the need to apologize or explain yourself, do so in a timely manner. Do it once. Address the relevant questions. Describe the steps you are taking to make things better moving forward. And then stop responding.  You cannot please everybody. Any other subsequent questions can be referred back to your earlier statement.

5.) TAKE A LEAVE. If you need to take a leave from school or work to avoid physical harm, do so. Hatred can have a lingering effect. Fortunately, people could have short memories. Give a few days or weeks, and most people’s hatred will dissipate, and will be spent one way or another. Be patient. God’s timing is always perfect.

6.) MOVE ON. After apologizing and taking corrective actions, even if you are still being harassed, move on in life without retaliating. When you are ready, forgive your haters and bless them.

Ultimately, it is the SELF that needs to be worked on if you are being cyberbullied. The only person you have complete control of is yourself. For everything else that is out of your control, surrrender these all to the Lord. ;-)

I hope and pray that this article sheds light on the cyberbullying issues. I hope and pray that we learn to RESPECT one another more.

What are your thoughts on managing cyberbullying and promoting respect?

 

RespectFULLY, 

edWIN Ka Edong Soriano

This article was inspired by talks given by Chris Lao and Bianca Gonzales (@iamsuperbianca) at the Social Good Summit, Sept 22. Here’s a round-up by Fritz Valle

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