With all the love and support from an engaged audience also comes ‘haters’, cyberbullying and an influx of online ‘trolls’. If you’re dealing with trolls, here’s our advice on cyberbullying and how to get help from online bullies.
A site called relate.org describes cyberbullying as “any form of malicious messages, abuse, name calling and threats using any kind of technology from social media sites to mobile phones”.
“Trolling”, it says, has become the more common term for any kind of purposeful online abuse on social media sites. Ask any high profile influencer and they will tell you their experience of ‘haters’ and ‘trolls’, it affects almost everyone.
Influencers have a right to make money and grow their brand, but they also need to be conscious to please and not alienate their audience, so it can be a fine line.
When an influencer’s audience grows exponentially a certain level of negativity may creep in with it. As business deals, endorsements and revenue start rolling in, a portion of an audience may become distrustful, bored or even envious of who they subscribe to.
That core, original audience they once had may now be flooded with casual observers quick to critique everything they do or say.
With the rise of social media and the 24/7 access to so many internet-connected devices, a culture of online bullying has begun to emerge as those behind keyboards share harsh opinions, critiques and comments that they wouldn’t be comfortable saying face-to-face.
Many social networks and sharing sites also allow users to join in a simple click or two with almost anonymous profiles, further distancing themselves from their true identities.
You’ve seen lots of creators and influencers take to YouTube or social media to post heartfelt messages and teary videos pleading with their audience to stop with nasty comments, hate mail and general negativity.
Many have even taken prolonged breaks from their audience to recuperate following periods of intense negativity.
TeenVogue gathered a group of successful young female YouTube vloggers and video creators to discuss the topic of online bullying, offering advice and support to others from their experience and perspective.
Eva Gutowski says in the video: “None of us would have a voice if it wasn’t for the internet (and it can be an amazing place) but what we try to create is a positive space which breeds positivity”.
How can we all help stop this culture? Here are some ways to deal with cyberbullying:
Disable comments; Instagram and YouTube have added a comment disable option over the past few years and both Twitter and Facebook verified profiles have special tabs for solely verified mentions which helps to filter out those anonymous, nameless and faceless comments that appear.
YouTuber Tyler Oakley simply advises “mute it, block it, don’t respond, that’s what they want, report it, be done with it” and to also reach out for help, “that’s the bravest thing you can do”.
Focus on you
‘Haters gonna hate’, so whilst other people choose to comment or critique you, focus on the best things about you.
Your talent, your passions, your skills. Channel your energy and passion into what makes you unique, special and happy and try not to focus on what other people think or say.
Remember: ‘What other people think of me is none of my business’.
Surround yourself with support
A strong support network will see you through any bouts of bullying.
Being able to lean on friends and family for support, encouragement, love and comfort when faced with trolls or bullying will help the most. Breathe out negativity, breathe in love.
Confide in others
Reach out to other influencers, bloggers and YouTubers and talk to them. Confide in them what your feelings and experiences are and 99% of the time they will echo the same thing back.
You’re never alone, you will be surprised how often online bullying or cyber trolling happens every single day to lots of different people, it’s not just you.
In a video titled ‘Internet Hate’, British YouTuber Oli White describes why bullies bully in three reasons: to get a reaction, because they’re bored, or because they want attention.
“Basically, a lot of bullying goes on for no real reason at all, and it’s actually more about the bully than the victim,” he adds.
You’re not perfect
Accept your imperfections because no one is perfect, and that’s okay!
Begin to get comfortable with not being perfect, with looking or sounding a different way, you’re the best version of you so build up your inner confidence in defence against trolls.