Lessons of Life Podcast: Episode 3, Online Etiquette,

Lidya Beniyam, Staff Writer

OPEN TRANSCRIPT:

Lessons of Life Podcast:  Online Bullying, Episode 3

Interviewees:

  •  Frida Sagastume
  •  Saaj Dhungana

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Welcome all to the Lessons of Life Podcast where we reflect on our past experiences and the lessons they’ve taught us. I appreciate you tuning in for the third episode! Let’s talk about Online Bullying. I’m your host, Lidya Beniyam, and join me as we discuss the effects of online bullying on one’s mental health and the benefits of showing empathy online. The guests joining us today are freshmen Frida Sagastume and Saaj Dhungana. 

So, what is empathy? Oxford Languages defines it as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another or the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Unfortunately, more people have been using the internet to send spiteful messages because it’s so easy to get away with. Empathy does not even cross their minds.

One day, I was scrolling through Tik Tok and I came across this video of a boy lip-syncing to a song. I looked at the comments as usual and I was shocked at what people had to say. They were commenting nasty words about his cleft lip, an opening/split in the roof of the mouth. I can’t bring myself to explain the rude things people said. They were completely absurd and out of line. Once I learned more about these commenters, I understood the phrase “I know the snowflakes are mad right now.” One of them had this in their bio. To explain, snowflake is a term used to describe someone who is easily offended or overly emotional when presented with opposing opinions. After reading their bio, I concluded this person probably leaves more hate comments across Tik Tok. Unfortunately, there are many people similar to this person that do not stop no matter what they are told. Because of these types of people, according to Enough is Enough, 47% of young people have been bullied on the internet. The only thing we can do is ignore or report them. I’m glad that the boy lip-syncing chose to ignore them and continued making his content regardless of the messages he was receiving. We should avoid pointless arguments on the internet and not give hateful comments attention in general, and not take it to heart. That is the exact attitude we should all have if this happens to us.

As always, let’s hear from some other points of view. First to speak is Frida Sagastume. As a volleyball player and an active user of social media, Frida has a story of her own to tell. Hi Frida! Thanks for joining me today! I want to ask you, have you or anyone you know been insulted or criticized online? “I would say that some of my friends have been, insulted online through Tik Tok and Instagram about their appearances. They were pretty sad afterwards they would always bring it up, especially how, you know, no one really likes the way they look, and I’d say it’s one of their biggest insecurities, so it was pretty sad.” I haven’t been in that exact situation but I’m sure others have and have gone through the same emotions as them. How do the people online impact your mental health? It’s definitely sad thinking about it, and how people bring out the worst of you. And I think it’s, it’s sucky that ,you know, they comment such rude things.” Those feelings are completely valid, but the fact is you are absolutely beautiful and unique regardless of what others may say. What do you do to take your mind off of negativity from the internet? I distract myself, and you know I talk to my friends and we uplift one another, and I play sports, so I play volleyball, and whenever I play, I’m not thinking about like the rude words people have said to me I’m just focused on my sport. And to be honest I could care less when I’m playing. So that definitely helps.” That sounds like a great way to ignore the hate. Experts from a blog, Good Therapy, suggest practicing good self care like taking a walk, writing down your feelings and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation. Thank you for sharing with us Frida! 

Next, let’s hear from Saaj Dhungana. Hello! So my first question is, would you likely tell an adult or friend if you were bullied online? Or would you tell no one at all? I feel like if I was being bullied online, I feel like I’d most likely tell a friend because firstly, I’m gonna give my opinion, by the way, but first I feel like we’ve all grown up with the internet so we have more of an idea of the effects of these words or of how you know these words were, why they were used and stuff like that, I feel like they’ll understand a little bit more but also secondly, I feel like more comfortable telling my friends that this situation happened to be online, but if it did reach an extreme, and I didn’t need to tell someone, I would tell a trusted adult if it left, if it entered that level.” Friends can help us in most situations, but when things escalate, it’s always better to reach out to an adult. They have more power to do something that will end the situation. What is the most extreme bullying situation you have seen, heard or been in? I think the biggest like bullying situation I’ve seen online was on Twitter, and everyone who has the app is really, like, like rude and stuff, but I think it was a while ago and there was this like person, I think it was an influencer and like YouTuber or whatever but, like, a while ago, like a long time ago this video, I know this video surfaced of them, a while ago and you know they were saying, they said something, it wasn’t really, like, corrective I’m saying nowadays. So, you know, the person did grow from it and he did apologize but the amount of hate that was given towards this person was probably unacceptable for the situation that did happen. I feel like there were people that were trying to hold this person accountable, and there were people actually give this person I feel like that’s such a great thing that is on, like, on the internet and was given to people online, was, you have this chance to grow and, like, educate yourself, but there are, there were some people that I saw most of the people, too, were sending this person death threats or making fun of their parents or like tearing down every single thing about this person, and telling them that you know they’re not worthy or they need to die and all that stuff and I feel like that is totally wrong, especially for the situation that was happening. And, you know, people need to realize how much like these words that you say, have such a big impact, especially since like mental illness and mental health is so important, but people don’t realize that things that they’re saying can really affect someone’s mental health. And that was one of the biggest bullying situation I’ve seen.” People on Twitter tend to be ruthless with their comments towards celebrities and influencers, and don’t take a second to filter out what they’re saying. There was a time where young actress Millie Bobby Brown had to leave Twitter because of the intense bullying and harassment she received. But she didn’t back down. According to a Pop Culture magazine, she addressed the issue during the 2018 MTV movie and T.V awards when she was only 14. We are all humans, including celebrities. My last question for you is why do you think people leave mean comments? What do you think goes through their minds when they’re typing out and sending their messages? “A reason why people have such a big confidence or like have, like say such awful things online is probably because of how much confidence the internet gives them, and how much they just feel more I guess you can say comfortable saying awful things online. First of all, you know they’re not seeing this person face to face and saying these things so they don’t really see their initial reaction, and also really people don’t realize that the other people that you’re making fun of online are real people like they are living their own lives there. They have their own family, they have a group of friends but people don’t really realize that this person is real. So that’s another reason why people send death threats to certain people, not death threats, people send, sorry, people sound like hate comments toward people because they don’t realize that this other person that they are either making fun of or, you know, anything hateful is a real person and I feel like. Another reason is because of how much confidence the internet gives people to say all these awful things because you know they’re just behind the screen saying these things and, and if you find any offense in them you’re called sensitive or anything, but I feel like the main reason people have such an idea of saying these awful things online is because we’re confident the internet gives them.” Exactly! This is similar to what I was talking about earlier; celebs and influencers are people just like us! They make mistakes! The worst thing to see is when influencers open up about struggling with their mental health because of these haters and all of a sudden, people start switching up. They try and hype them back up and show their fake support. However, trying to support someone you’ve just trashed online is like breaking a glass cup, gluing the pieces together and saying it’s all fixed. The cup will form back to its original shape, but there will always be cracks. There may be chipped pieces scattered on the ground. The surface will remain rough and it will never be the same again. 

As Millie said, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say it.” You really have no idea what kind of damage your comments could do to someone’s confidence and mental health. Try to ask yourself, “would I say this to their face?” If not, maybe leave a polite message instead! I’m your host Lidya Beniyam and that wraps up the third episode of the Lessons of Life Podcast. Thanks for listening and make sure to tune in for the next episode! 

If you or anyone you know has been bullied, check out the transcript for this video and click here to access the cyber bullying helplines

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