Staff editorial: Cyberbullying needs to end


Anonymous messages are posted to an Instagram account that is used to gossip and spread rumors. Photo by Catherine Xu

The Purple Tide Staff

With everyone quarantined inside their own homes, many people have been resorting to social media in order to interact with friends online. As a result of increased online activity, it is no surprise that cyberbullying has been on the rise. Students are able to stay within the comfort of their four-wall bedroom and type away hurtful messages, knowing that there is a slim chance that they will ever have to physically confront anyone. 

According to the Verywellfamily, research has shown that cyberbullying has increased 70% after the initial stay-at-home order. With students online and bored of quarantine, many are turning to social media to spread rumors that are completely false just to humiliate one another. 

Unfortunately, even within the Chantilly community, cyberbullying has become a prevalent issue on social media.

In late August of 2020, a public Instagram account called “chantilly.hs.confessions” was created. The account gave a place for students to give anonymous confessions through a Tellonym link in its bio. The owner then picked the most entertaining submissions and posted them.

 What had started as a funny page of random confessions soon became a place of bullying and harassment. Submissions quickly devolved into belittling insults and rumors meant to expose and humiliate other students. Some of these posts included accusations of racism, homophobia and wildly vulgar and sexual remarks. Though the confessers remain anonymous, those who were demeaned in posts were often unprotected with their names on full display. 

It is absolutely shameful that our student body has contributed to the toxicity of this account. Though the owner, who is also anonymous, claims to be a student in California messing around on the internet, these confessions are certainly the work of Chantilly students. This is nothing less than cyberbullying, and it’s quite a recent example from which we should learn. 

When given this opportunity and this anonymous platform, so many of our students have turned to hatred and negativity. We are old enough. There should be no need to explain why cyberbullying is hurtful and wrong. 

Not only are the instigators at fault, but those who ask the account’s owner to keep posting the toxic confessions are also to blame. The followers and viewers who eat up this content are no better. They only fuel more harassment.

Although this only represents a portion of the school, it is a stark reminder that we need to be diligent with our behavior. Just because there is a veil of anonymity doesn’t mean behavior like this is excusable. Cyberbullying is a real issue, and we should handle it as such. Report situations or hateful platforms when you see them; Instagram has a function just for that. Recognize that this sort of targeted harassment and humiliation is a form of cyberbullying.

Online communication can make messages seem impersonal and distanced, but there can be large and unintentional results. Certain accusations can also bring serious legal consequences.

So for the betterment of yourselves and others, be mindful of the words you use on social media.