Like the usual bullies who pick on your perceived flaws, teasing and taunting you endlessly in school or at work, celebrities face these frustrating issues via the internet. For example, a picture from a red-carpet event is posted on a blog or website, then the comments dash in – ruthless opinions that should be left unsaid and unheard. But this is the internet, and people get protection by bearing the anonymous tag. Celebrities from Ini Edo to Goldie, Jim Iyke, Richard MofeDamijo, have all tasted the bitter pill of cyber bullying.
Last week however it was actress, Tonto Dike; and Beat FM’s presenter, GbemiOlateru-Olagbegi’s turn. Spotted on a red carpet event, Gbemi’s pictures found their way into popular blogs and then the comments started, very unpleasant and unkind. They managed to describe her as a “mash of different body parts” and many more unsavoury terms. Tonto had announced her upcoming single/album on twitter; that was enough to send the hawks her way. They teased, mocked, and laughed. And she fought back – “you are poor…I’m rich…my music is dope…your ears are bad” are bits that I could pick from the cyber brawl.
In more structured societies, there are groups created to fight cyber bullying mostly for teenagers who face gang threats that usually generate from school. International celebrities like Miley Cyrus have asked that social networks like Twitter should take responsibility for cyber-bullying. A while back, someone had tweeted to her to “just die”, then Miley tweeted back, “I won’t tolerate someone telling me to die. I think Twitter needs to take responsibility and make it a safe environment.”
The truth about celeb cyber bullying is that it has no loyalties – no one is safe! Ciara was once bullied to stop making music. These remarks can be considered comedic only when it isn’t targeted at you or someone you love. But in reality it must hurt like an open wound for these celebs. Social media is a powerful tool and we have seen it bring about positive change in the world. But it has also become a tool for aggressive bullying and masked hate. The reasonable advice to give would be to ignore. Do not honour comments that deride you. Eventually they may get bored. And dear celebs, do not forget that some of these remarks actually come from people who are close to you.