Cyberbullying Through Anonymity — Top 3 Bullying Motives
When we realized we are subconsciously becoming one of them.
This article was published on Project Child Indonesia’s website on 26 November 2021 with the same title.
We already know what face-to-face bullying looks like, but have you seen people bully others through the internet? They do that with anonymous accounts and harm others with very harsh words–that’s why they said be careful to people on the internet. This anonymous cyberbullying is getting worse these days, as we can see through the internet and social media.
Some of you think like, “I don’t know them, so don’t care about it and just pretend they don’t exist”. But well, it is easier to talk rather than do, right? It is our nature as humans to listen to others’ opinions, as we always have the tendency to be the better form of self every day.
Same as face-to-face bullying, cyberbullying can last a long time and affect a person mentally, emotionally, and physically. Since they do that anonymously, what are the motives behind these phenomena?
They feel ‘the power’
If face-to-face bullies do physical violence to gain power and attention, cyberbullies take another way to suppress their target. It can spread lies of someone on social media, sending hurtful messages, or even impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf.
You should know, I’m the one who’s in control. I’ll let you come to take the wheel, long as you don’t forget. Who got the power? Like the lyrics of a song from Little Mix called ‘Power’, the bully feels they gain power from humiliating and hurting others. They feel ‘secure’ as they get the attention that they want. So, it is better to not give them attention, and try to protect your accounts from them such as using report and block features.
They feel ‘bad’ about themselves
I think it’s obvious, isn’t it? Especially on the internet, where social media becomes a new platform to show off their good things (and life). New achievements, go on vacation, buy new things, etc. If we don’t use social media with mindfulness, there is more chance to cultivate envy in others.
The bully is motivated to bully someone else out of envy and resentment. Rather than power, those motive is most likely the reason many cyberbullying happens these days. The easiest example is hate towards public figures, such as artists, or any people who have many followers on social media.
The anonymity itself
Research has found that the ability to be anonymous has a direct effect on feelings of disinhibition. As the victim doesn’t know who the bully is, the bully feels the disinhibition effect and says or does things they may not do face-to-face. In short, anonymity becomes the bully’s main shield and weapon to do what they want.
Therefore, do you know there is any chance of us becoming cyberbullied unconsciously? You may think your opinion does no harm, but actually, we can unconsciously harm people with our opinion and become a part of the cancel culture, which does not differ from being a bully. Think twice before you want to share something on social media. We have to be cautious about what we post or say that may offend others.
In short, the 3 things above are the most common reasons for a person to do cyberbullying. I know being mindful while using social media isn’t enough, and we all want cyberbullying to cease, which is why reporting cyberbullying is important. Learning about the privacy settings of your favorite social media apps, and using their features such as hide, restrict, block, and report account will be beneficial to protect you from cyberbullying.
After knowing the motives of cyberbullying, I hope we can continuously create a healthier environment on the internet. Everyone can do good, and so do you. Right?
Cyberbullying: What is it and how to stop it. (n.d.). UNICEF. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.unicef.org/end-violence/how-to-stop-cyberbullying#menu
DeHaan, L. (2009). Bullies. NDSU. Published. https://library.ndsu.edu/ir/bitstream/handle/10365/4950/fs570.pdf
High School Students’ Perceptions of Motivations for Cyberbullying: An Exploratory Study. (2010, August 1). PubMed Central (PMC). Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2941365/
Hu, S. (2016). Why cyberbullies choose cyberspace: From the perspective of uses and gratifications (Thesis). Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. https://doi.org/10.31274/etd-180810-5351