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Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
By Olivia Smith, St. Petersburg High
Web surfers, beware. The ability to comment anonymously on websites makes bullying easy. Here are five websites where there’s a 100 percent chance of being personally victimized by Regina George cowards hiding behind phony user names.
YouTube, of course, is a video site, which means an emphasis on aesthetics. That can be good; I mean, do you think that the “Charlie bit me” video would have gained international fame if the children were not tragically adorable? I don’t think so.Then again, the focus on looks can be a worrisome thing. There are hundreds of beauty “gurus” on YouTube, attractive and wealthy girls who demonstrate makeup looks. While these can be helpful, the message they send is that adorning your face gains friends, or at least subscribers.
Less subtle and more damaging is the recent trend of videos titled “Am I Pretty?” These videos pose younger (like, seriously young) girls sitting shyly in front of grainy webcams asking the billions of YouTube users if they are what society deems pretty. Responses vary from words of encouragement (“You are beautiful inside and out!”) to cruel (“Maybe you would be decent if you learned what an eyebrow wax is”).
Tumblr is probably one of my favorite places on the Internet. Self-expression, art and a sense of community run freely. That said, there are always some people who are willing to take advantage of such a personally liberating website. Not unlike Formspring, there is an “ask” feature on most Tumblr blogs. Basically this allows followers to compliment you, ask questions, and share theories about why Aria is involved with “A” on Pretty Little Liars. (Okay, maybe that last one only applies to a select group of people, me included.) There is also a box to check if you would like to ask your question anonymously. This sometimes leads to harmless things, like asking questions that are just a bit too personal. Other times, when a blogger opens her inbox, there’s an array of “anons” requesting that she end her life. This is especially prevalent among the more “Tumblr famous” folks.
Tampa Bay Times
Okay, by the Tampa Bay Times, I really mean any online news source that allows anonymous comments. One of the best things about America is our right to free speech, which people exercise daily by commenting on news and other articles. Some of the comments are simply rude or tacky. Others are more serious and impart thoughtful points. The bigger and more relevant the subject is, the more passionate and angry people get. It doesn’t matter if it is a hard-hitting story about Casey Anthony’s whereabouts, or a hard-hitting story about Kim Kardashian’s relationship with Kanye West, people can get very LOUD (commenting in all caps), and some people take things to the next level with threats. In the recent case of Trayvon Martin, comments are getting more racist and ignorant by the minute.
At this point, every news outlet has reported stories about the dangers of Facebook. The truth of the matter is, Facebook can be a relatively pleasant place if you’re careful and exercise some restraint. For example, if Jane Doe posts how she is irrevocably in love with her sixth boyfriend, resist the urge to comment. It will only cause drama or encourage her, neither of which is worth it.
If someone comments flippantly or rudely to you, don’t even bother replying. He or she obviously is just looking for something to do; just delete the comment (or the friend). Or, you could leave the comment up so others can see what a quality person the commenter is.
This is the seedy underbelly of the Internet. If a big white van popped up on your Google home page, it would take you straight to 4chan. There are several infamous cases of bullying involving 4chan, including Jessi Slaughter. Jessi is the 11-year-old Florida girl who made a few ridiculously obnoxious YouTube videos (including one in which her father rants about her haters). Soon enough, 4Chaners found her home address and phone number and proceeded to harass her and her family for months. Supposedly the stress caused Jessi to need hospitalization.
Don’t think that just because you don’t put yourself out there you will be left alone. Even if you’re minding your own business, chances of leaving the site unscathed are not in your favor. Simply posting a picture of your favorite band can lead to death threats and suicide encouragements. The FBI has gotten involved with 4Chan many times, because some of these users really mean business.
Here’s a Lion King scene that must have landed on the cutting room floor that captures the essence of 4Chan:
Mufasa: Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom.
Simba: Everything the light touches … But what about that shadowy place?
Mufasa: That is 4Chan. You must never go there, Simba.