Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson shares her experience with online bullying
The recent media coverage of Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson having made a suicide attempt as a result of online bullying was an eye opener to me.
I have dealt with online trolls before, and have found that, in the majority of cases, they are insecure individuals who would not use the same sort of language in real life. They tend to find a level of security from hiding behind a keyboard and would not cope with the confrontation of spreading their hatred face to face.
It disturbed me that Jesy, a member of one of the world’s most successful and popular girl bands, could contemplate suicide because of online abuse. I had read in the press that she was a victim of trolling, with a lot of hate being directed towards her. I did not realise how much of an effect that this had on her.
Possibly like many others, I wrongly felt that superstars would take this abuse like “water off a ducks back”, being able to shrug off the haters with ease, and this would have no negative effects on their mental health, or their lives in general.
Which was wrong. I feel that sometimes, its easy to forget that famous people are still people, people with feelings and worries, just like the rest of us. They should not be subjected to abuse as much as anyone else should be, being famous does not give the right to abuse them.
Reading quotes from her, such as the one below, shows the level of abuse that she was subjected to.
I have the greatest respect for Jesy opening up and sharing her experience on television. I hope that, at the very least, this will provide an opening for anyone suffering from online abuse to speak to their parents, carers or anyone that they trust. I also hope that this will be a conversation starter between young people, showing the effects of what trolling can have and make people think twice before trolling. I would like to think that the BBC showing this documentary and interview may save people suffering and potentially save lives.
Jesy went on to comment about her mental health and the damage the abusive messages have caused.
She then goes onto describe her state of mind around the time she took an overdose.
Dealing with trolls
The main messages that should be given to anyone suffering abuse is that it is not your fault, you are not to blame and please do not suffer in silence. Victims of trolls should also know that, while mass media promote certain body images as “normal” these are not a true reflection of the population in 2019. The Independent newspaper ran a recent article on how body shapes have changed in the last 50 years.
While the online trolls may take some bizarre pleasure from insulting others, remember that people love you. How would they feel if you took your own life? Think about who would miss you.
While the trolls keep spreading their vile abuse, the best advice is to ignore them. That is extremely easy to say, and much harder to do. If the abuse is coming via Social Media, block the accounts and report them to the platform. It is a common trait of trolls that they thrive on the pain and suffering of others. So if you respond and show that you are upset, this will give them the “high” that they are seeking. Don’t delete the comments, unless they contain personal or sensitive information. This may encourage the trolls to become more active.
Jesy appears to now feel sorry for those who have abused her. She states:
It is difficult to speak about abuse, and issues with mental health. If you feel unable to speak to a family member, I encourage you to speak to a medical professional. Again, I understand that this may appear difficult, but they will not judge you. Alternatively, have a look at the guide on Online Harassment from The Cyber Helpline. There are a number of organisations in the UK that are set up to deal with Cyber Bulling and can offer free, confidential support, advice and guidance on how to deal with any issue. I have included a link to The Cyber Helpline below.
As a final thought, I cannot stress enough the need to speak to people. Some may say that trolling is “part of life”, but I know that hurtful comments, especially when they are made about the way you look or attacks on your beliefs really can start to wear you down. If you are being trolled, or suffering from Cyber Bullying, please reach out and speak to someone. Please don’t suffer in silence. It can be a family member, a trusted friend, a healthcare professional, a teacher.
It may not feel like it, but you are loved. People do care about you. You are worthy and make a contribution to the human race. Don’t let the trolls win.
The program, entitled Odd One Out is on BBC1 Scotland at 21:00 on September 12th , and will also be available on BBC iPlayer.