Cyber-Bullying: A Path To Depression
The human species has often been synonymous to social species; implying the importance of a need for social interaction. Industrialization brought upon humans the concept of geographical distance, and it became inevitable for us to come up with different forms of long-distance communication. Technological advancements exposed humans to Social media. Over the past few years, since its debut, social media has become an integral part of our lives. Any type of social media for many has now taken the form of a necessity than being just a mere source of entertainment. Communicating with friends and family located across the expanse of the globe has never been easier.
The 2018 Pew Research Centre study deduced that between the age of 18 to 29, 88% were the consumers of social media while it was 78% amongst the ones falling within the range of 30 to 49. For ages between 50 to 64, it was a whopping 64%. It is excessively astonishing because the numbers were higher than expected for a generation that was much ahead in their life when introduced to social media. These statistics indicate the omnipresence of social media in our lives.
The growing influence of social media has disintegrated people’s ability to distinguish between what’s real and what’s not on these platforms. Hence, this boon-for-many has quickly turned into the cause of mental health issues amongst many. It has mainly become a massive cause of depression among the youth - the young and impressionable.
With the growing use of social media, researchers found hints of addiction between Social Media and its users. The major reason for this addiction can be boiled down to low self-esteem and the stress of being left out or the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). FOMO is where people feel that others are having fun without them. They don’t feel smart enough or as interesting as, or as successful as others in their connections and this adds on to cause anxiety and feelings of self-doubt and depression.
With such massive power at hand, people quite often tend to misuse it and it had led to a big problem and cause of depression for today’s generation – Cyberbullying. It is the act of bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. It can occur via texts, apps, online on social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Although any user of Social Media is susceptible to the bullying the most common receivers are children.
It was found that approximately 25% of the children who were cyberbullied were also bullied in a different setting. Cyberbullying is, in fact, more dangerous than physical bullying as the victims are unable to escape from the harassment and voice out their opinions because of feelings like fear and lack of self-esteem. Since most of the bullies use fake accounts to keep their identities anonymous, the victims feel that everyone dislikes them and this leads to more severe psychological challenges. A study by University of Miami revealed that the ones who have faced cyberbullying were more likely to have PTSD, depression, anger and anxiety as to those who weren’t bullied. It leads to the victim experiencing feelings of loneliness, low self-esteem, insecurity, suicidal thoughts, etc.
Attacks via cyberbullying can be differentiated into two different categories – Direct attacks and Proxy attacks. Direct Attacks are the attacks from a bully directed at the victim either through personal messaging or social media posts which includes hurtful comments and threats of physical violence. Whereas in Proxy Attacks the bullies are anonymous and harass the victim by using fake usernames and email addresses to spread personal information about the victim, which may or may not be true, to everyone in the victim’s social circle to induce feelings of hurt and pain. There have been instances of some websites being formed which have veil and hurtful information of the victim. These websites are used to spread hate and bash the victim. In many cases, the bullies cannot be identified.
Being constantly at the receiving end of such hate and hostility can sometimes affect the victim’s perception and can cause them to have extreme lack of judgements which may lead to them taking drastic steps. For example, in 2013, a number of suicides amongst teenagers were linked to Ask.fm, a social media platform where users can ask one another questions anonymously. The teens had been subjected to abuse on this site which later prompted the platform to launch new safety efforts.
Overall, Social media has its advantages and disadvantages. It has made communication and reaching out to others extremely easy but with this ease also comes power which can be misused by people holding ill-intentions for others. One should be aware of how to differentiate between the actual world and the world they perceive via Social media and should know how to detach themselves from this virtual world.