Bullied: A Life in Two Stories
One. She wakes with a heaviness in her heart. It’s only Tuesday; still four school days left to go if she includes today. She glances at her phone, swipes to open the screen. Seventeen notifications. Texts, message threads, every app lit up with a new comment.
She ignores them all. She already knows what they say, anyway.
She gets dressed, carefully avoiding the mirror. Eats her breakfast in silence; soggy little rainbow circles, drenched in milk.
Her phone vibrates. She glances at the screen. It’s briefly lit with a message from a number she doesn’t recognize. u r faaaaaaat lil piggy, it says. She looks away, reads the back of the cereal box instead.
Breakfast finished, she shrugs into her backpack. Time to face the day. Time to leave.
Tucked away in her back pocket, her phone vibrates again.
Two. He double-clicks the bronze shield on his desktop. The game opens with a burst of heroic drums and horns. He enters his username and password, selects his favorite server, armors up for battle, and strides into the town square where several members of his clan wait. The square is crowded, teeming with barrel-chested warriors, tall mages draped in black cloaks, hideous pop-eyed goblins hopping from foot to foot.
He scans the usernames, looking for one in particular. Doesn’t see it. Feels his shoulders loosen and his back relax. He hadn’t realized how much tension he was holding inside, just looking for the name.
“who is ready to fight?” he types in the room chat.
A private message flashes in the lower right corner of his screen.
“hey faggot loser im baaaaaack”
“when u r goin to kill yrslf”
“log off n die loser”
His shoulders tighten again. It’s going to be a long session.
Those are only two examples of online bullying. There are countless others.
In 2017, there are no safe spaces for the bullied. We are all connected, day and night. Kids can’t disengage. We can’t expect them to put their iPhones away, stop using social networks, and walk away from the internet.
Online communities are just as meaningful as offline communities. And for kids and teens, they can — and should — be spaces that encourage personal growth, curiosity, and discovery. But too often, the online space is riddled with obstacles that stop kids from reaching their true potential.
The internet grew up fast.
We’re only just starting to realize that we’ve created a culture of bullying and abuse. So it’s up to us to change the culture.
As adults, it’s our job to ensure that when kids and teens are online, they are safe. Safe to be themselves, safe to share who they really are, and safe from abuse.
Today we celebrate Stop Cyberbullying Day. Launched by the Cybersmile Foundation in 2012, it’s a dedicated day to campaign for a better internet — for a truly inclusive space where everyone is free to share without fear of harassment or abuse.
Here at Two Hat Security, we believe in a world free of online bullying, harassment, and child exploitation. Today’s message of solidarity and empathy is core to our vision of a better internet. No one can fix this problem on their own, which is why days like today are so important.
Let’s come together — as families, as companies, as co-workers, and as citizens of this new digital world — and take a stand against bullying. The Cybersmile Foundation has some great ideas on their site — like Tweeting something nice to a person you follow or coming up with a new anti-bullying slogan.
We’ll continue to find new ways to protect online communities around the world. And we’ll keep trying to change the culture and the industry, every day. We hope you’ll join us.