Adults sometimes forget that a teenager’s world view is much smaller than theirs. For the child, school, family, and friends are their world, with an emphasis on friends. These friends are most likely people they’ve met in school, so their world is even smaller.
When the Cliquesters zero on a target, it’s fast and furious and a group assault. It’s a mob mentality as friends join enemies to pile on. Most know the mean rumors aren’t true, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Everyone acts as if they are true. What makes it worse is when the key instigator is a fake profile that helps to egg on the mob.
For the target, he or she feels isolated, like they are the only ones going through this. Because their world is so closely tied to what people think about them, when the Internet betrays them and they are exposed and vulnerable, they don’t have the wherewithal to handle the abuse. So they internalize it. They can’t stop reading what comes next. They might even retaliate with a mean post of their own, but it just elevates the assault. Friends turn judgmental and people believe the lies. Without the mental capacity to bolster their own self-esteem, the target feels lost and may see only one way out: suicide.
The target is not alone, as the lead character Taylor Hillridge (Emily Osment) discovers when she attends a group session, where she meets other cyberbullying victims. They find strength in knowing they have an ally. They also learn how to take back control of their psyche.
The key tips the movie advises a target of a cyberbully to do are:
- Print the evidence. Have physical proof of each verbal assault that shows names, times, and platform.
- Block them. After gathering the evidence, one by one, go through and block every person who has trolled the feed.
- Tell someone you trust. Whether it’s a parent, adult mentor, or teacher — make sure it is someone who you think will be sympathetic to your predicament and not sit in judgment.
- Report them. There may or may not yet be any laws in your jurisdiction, but the only way it can start is if someone tries to file a statement with law enforcement.
Cyberbullying is not the target’s fault, no matter what they’ve done or were perceived to have done. The four points listed above help a target empower himself or herself against their bullies. It’s a start, and knowing there is a block and delete key is a powerful ally.
Cyberbully the movie is a good portrayal of how easily the online experience can deteriorate for a teenager, or an adult. It was written by Teena Booth and directed by Charles Binamé. Kay Panabaker, Meaghan Rath, Kelly Rowan, Jon McLaren, and Robert Naylor also star in this film.