Although definitions of cyberbullying vary, it is generally characterized as the use of an electronic device to aggressive, repeated and intentional acts against another person or group of people.
Teasing, threats, use of photos without permission, sending corrupt files… They all have cruelty in common. They can take different formats. Online fights with violent language. Persecution. Repeated sending of insulting messages. Denigration. Spreading rumors or personal information to damage someone’s reputation or relationships. Using the identity of another to post material that harms that person. Reveal someone’s sexual orientation to harm them.
How does it differ from traditional bullying? In that it does not require physical or social cues. The harasser and the harassed may never have personal contact, and the damage is done anyway.
Researchers from the American Psychological Association (APA) argue that the power imbalances that exist in face-to-face situations are reduced in cyberspace. Y It’s not just for teenagers. (although it is a vulnerable age), but it also occurs among children and adults.
The reason for harassment: seeking acceptance by any means
What is in this violent interaction between people also belongs to psychoanalysis, says therapist Carlos Silva Koppel. Violence and hostility towards any person in social networks responds to the following elements:
- Violence would not be innate in the human being, but it is constitutive of the psyche by the load or historical journey and daily life. “These produce disagreements and also a melancholic subject and, at the same time, aggressive”.
- The hostile and melancholic subject finds an easy target: a celebrity or candidate caught missing according to the fashion trend (mainly moral), “to download and leave a position that will be endorsed by the masses through retweets, shares or likes”.
- Social media makes it easy direct interaction, regardless of gender, race, age group or social class; there are no barriers in communication between human beings, as occurs in life outside networks.
- In a process of psychoanalysis there are no such barriers either, precisely so that hostility can come out easily, finding the therapist as a target, who is prepared to manage the fundamental issues that happen to that person.
What does someone gain who attacks another on social networks? Silva says that, apparently, it gives him a reason “valid enough and accepted in the digital society, an illusory status of recognition, peace and completeness, which is quite volatile”, for which he will return to continue scratching, criticizing or burning to that same person or someone else, “regardless of truth, reason or scruples.”
What happens is that life outside networks does not have that level of recognition. Denigrating a celebrity with a million followers for how he looks “brings me closer to fame than saying something empathetic or nice. Since the offense moves more than the praise.
What happens on social networks, considers the psychoanalyst, affects us so much in reality because our mind, constituted by language, “is virtual, it is not material”. Thus, a bad moment on the networks can make us feel bad physically, cause social unrest… “or put in presidents”, says Silva, recalling the movie Hater (Netflix), in which a young man believes he will achieve success by dedicating himself to discrediting social networks. social networks, until you see the result of your actions.
The social network can give us the illusion that we are alone, writing to a place, when in reality it is to another person, in whom everything we have will be downloaded. Is there a lack of work on our own subjectivity or desire to cause harm? Either of the two is possible.
On the other side there is still a receiver receiving a misspelled message. “The misunderstanding is greater and even tragic in terms of relationships between human beings, because of what this can cause to another.”
The true meaning of tolerance
Cyberbullying has some areas, says psychologist Mónica Llanos. Comments, invitations, jokes or ‘compliments’ with sexual connotations; identity theft for purposes of harm or fraud; violence due to political, cultural, sports differences…
In these spaces tolerance is usually invoked, but Llanos considers that “the term ‘tolerance’ has been misunderstood for total acceptance. If I give a different opinion, I am intolerant. Tolerance, in reality, has to do with respect for the other person, even if you do not agree with what they say or do, and it is also a two-way issue”.
This possibility of being judged intolerant makes people censor themselves or refrain from giving their opinion, because they measure in advance how much attack they are going to receive. “In an adult debate, which is not a fight, there is a level of maturity in which each one exposes his position, but that is not seen in social networks.” What exists is the accusation and misuse of personal information to offend the other.
Llanos, who is also a teacher, has seen a student exposed by her ex-partner, who obtained private photos of her and posted them on social media. “It did him a lot of damage, at a time when this was not classified as a crime.” Another student had her photos stolen, which ended up on a “fans only” site. It is also frequent instagram account duplication, for example, in order to damage someone’s image.
“Being behind a screen, without having the other face to face, gives the aggressor a certain sense of security, that there will be no retaliation. Comments on these posts give you a sense of power. His supposed anonymity makes him believe that the consequences are far away. “That impetus”, observes Llanos, “fades as soon as the communication goes back to being one-on-one, face-to-face”.
Working on a healthy self-esteem
In the last two years, during the pandemic, communication has become mostly mediated by technology, leaving many without the options of work and face-to-face education, shares psychologist María Luisa Tapia. “What already existed, was opened; people spend hours connected and share all kinds of information” in a medium in which every day new prototypes of beauty and wellness are created.
In this scenario, the health of self-esteem is very important. The therapist offers some recommendations to preserve and feed it.
How do you recognize a healthy self-esteem? “When we are aware and happy with what we are and have”, elaborates the psychologist. “And if we don’t like something, we set goals and work on changing it.” A person with good self-esteem believes that they can achieve what they set out to do.
Do you want to get in touch with your self-esteem? Tapia considers that looking in the mirror, alone, is one of the most intimate moments of the human being, since it favors introspection and motivation what we are living for. “Looking into each other’s eyes is a very good exercise, it is the daily like that we give ourselves.”
On the other hand, one of the things that hurts this aspect the most is denial, “you won’t be able to”. And so we return to the first point. A fragile self-esteem, affected by denial, seeks acceptance, and one place where it seems to be available is on social media, in the form of likes on its photos and content. “When they don’t get that approval, it feels like a low blow.”
This is noticeable when a young person does not have words of affirmation at home. “Every human being requires feeding of the ego; We parents have the mission of educating ourselves to send messages of acceptance to our children. We can be busy, but if our child does something well, simple words like: ‘I congratulate you, you did well’, are important”.
One of the great conflicts between parents and adolescent children, shares Tapia, is that they resent criticism and lack of affirmation. “As adults, we didn’t learn to give it, and we think it’s not important. We must re-educate ourselves.” (F)
Paul is a talented author and journalist with a passion for entertainment and general news. He currently works as a writer at the 247 News Agency, where he has established herself as a respected voice in the industry.