Tuesday, June 6, 2023
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Navigating the realm of cyber troll, bullies

S Indramalar

CNA – When you post content on social media platforms – an idea, a story, a photo or a video – you are invariably opening yourself up to differing opinions, negative comments and even, unfortunately, trolling or bullying.

The freedom that social media allows us to share and view content is in tandem with the freedom that users have to comment – especially if the post is done on an open platform.

However, this freedom does not extend to cyber bullying and harassment, both of which are unlawful.

So, while we can’t control what people say in their comments on our posts, be mindful that we can control how we respond or react, said dean of the Faculty of Psychology and Social Sciences, University of Cyberjaya Associate Professor Dr Anasuya Jegathevi Jegathesan.

“When you put things up on open social media platforms, you are opening yourself up to random comments – negative or positive. So, if you are posting, you must have the mental fortitude to delete, block or ignore comments that may be negative.

Just like in real life, some people on social media are just going to be negative and take random potshots – the trolls.

“What you can do is ignore or delete such comments. Learn how to manage these comments. Or, if you can’t, put your content on a private space just for people who you know will support you,” she advised.

Or, disable comments on your posts. But for those whose livelihoods depend on the number of hits, likes or comments on their feed, this may not be a viable option.

“You need to balance the need for comments and engagement with taking care of your own welfare and sense of self,” said Dr Anasuya, “You engage on social media because you want that response and you can’t disable comments because your numbers may go down.

“Know that what you want and what you need are two different things. Comments may be good for your statistics but it may not good for your self esteem.

“So, I would suggest getting someone to go through your comments for you first,” she offered. If it upsets you, reach for help.

Just recently, a 44-year-old woman who was unable to endure the online harassment on her social media feed decided to take her own life. Her family said that the private tutor and mother of three could not take the negative comments and harassment on the videos she posted on her TikTok feed.

Two years ago, a 20-year-old woman in Penang, left a suicide note explaining that she was taking her life because of a viral video that ridiculed her and spread lies about an alleged relationship with a co-worker. She was engaged and about to be married at the time. Not everyone has the ability to handle or ignore negative comments or the harassment of trolls or bullies, said Dr Anasuya.

Those who are unable to brush off the negativity on their feed need to reach out for help, she said, and these comments could be the tipping point for something bigger that is affecting them.

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