This Valentine’s Day I did something unusual. I went on a blind date, but that was not the unusual part, what was unusual was that my date was a book!
Thankfully, the public library near my residence is run by some very clever people. They wrapped up books in brown paper with a few lines of introduction of what our “date” is like and whatever we choose is going to our date. Clever, eh? The idea behind this is to encourage readers to try something we would never usually try.
It so happened that I ended up picking this light yet interesting novel for young adults, titled “Backlash” by Sarah Darer Littleman. It is about two teenage girls, Lara and Bree who used to be best friends in middle school. When Lara is going through bullying, self-image issues, depression, etc, Bree tries to help her cope up, but after repeated failed efforts, she gives up and distances herself from Lara. As they enter High School, roles reverse and Lara, who was struggling and simultaneously working on herself in High School becomes what she aspire to be and Bree on the other hand is suffering this time. Unable to contain her emotions mixed with jealousy, Bree makes some very poor choices. Knowing Lara inside out she decides to take revenge (or vent out her jealousy) by creating a fake Facebook profile, but unfortunately Bree ends up digging her own grave.
It was a dramatic read, and also some cute teenage romance and of course Cyberbullying! It was in fact reminiscent of my own teenage, because like most people I also saw cyberbullies in my school, hiding under the mask of their fake virtual identity. Back then, I was just an ignorant teen, like most people my age and I could not make sense of anything happening around me. But I somehow survived that too and now I am a Lawyer and can not only protect myself and people around me, but can also help you protect yourself.
Do’s and Don’ts of your cyber activity
- Know your rights. Like it is a crime to assault someone, cyberbullying is also a a crime. Cyberbullying is most probably a punishable offence in your country which could include jail time and/or other serious consequences against the perpetrator. Even if it not a punishable offence in your country, it is certainly against the terms and conditions of most social media sites; which means the offender is in serious trouble. So don’t be afraid of such bullies, they are the ones who should be afraid instead.
- Don’t be afraid to share such incidents with your close friends and family as they can help you.
- If you feel someone engages in similar activities like cyberbullying, spreading fake news or hateful content, stay away from them as much as possible- virtually as well as physically. Most importantly, inform your peer and above about it immediately.
- Avoid realtime update of your (or other people’s) personal activity as it can lead to cyber assisted crimes;
- Avoid publicly criticizing or taunting anyone on social media;
- Do NOT record anyone’s activity without their permission and obviously do NOT post it or threaten to post it online- even for fun;
- Avoid making friends online, because they generally tend to be quite different from what you perceive them to be;
- Never open up to a stranger online, there are plenty of people around you who love you and would treasure your company. If however, you still decide to do so, make sure you don’t divulge details of your personal life to them. Most importantly, be wary of emotionally investing in such relationships;
- Last but not the least, don’t falsely accuse anyone of being a cyberbully, as it can be a Backlash.
Remember, your inaction can help the potential offender, who will one day find someone else to hurt. And.. “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing” (-Edmund Burke).
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