In Secondlife (“SL”), not only the LGBT community, mostly all of us or our friends have encountered harassment, trolling, defamation and any kind of negative activity that may disturb the peace and create emotional discomfort. This irresponsible and unethical conduct by certain individuals or groups of people in SL, can be categorized as part of cyber-bullying. The question now is, how do we react towards it?
It is important for us to understand the results of bullying activities:
- You are made to feel hurt, angry, afraid, helpless, hopeless, isolated, ashamed, and even guilty that the bullying is somehow your fault.
- You may even feel suicidal.
- Your physical health is likely to suffer and you are at a greater risk of developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or adult onset PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
- You’re more likely to quit Secondlife just to avoid being bullied.
If these activities continue for a certain period of time, the victims will ends up living in constant fear, thinking when and where the bully will strike next; which sim? which group chat? what will they do? and how far they will go?
As we observed, the majority of cyber-bullying is done either anonymously by a 1 day old avatar, or even through hacked accounts. You will feel threatened and embolden the cyber-bullies as they believe online anonymity means they’re less likely to get caught. Since cyber-bullies can’t see your reaction, they will often go to greater lengths in their harassment or ridicule than they would if they were face-to-face with you.
So here are some tips on how we can minimize the damages of cyber-bullying and continue to sustain our mental health. It is always important to remain calm and control your emotion.
- Limit availability of your personal information: Although we love our SL partner or families, that doesn’t mean we are obligated to reveal our password or access to our account. Most of the cases we encountered happened due to jealously, break-ups and SL family disputes. Scary? Keep your login details and personal information private!
- Avoid escalating the situation: Hostility will likely provoke the bully and make the situation worse. Depending on circumstances, ignoring and walking away can be the best solution. Psychologically, cyber-bullies thrive on the victims’ emotional reaction. So what we can do in this situation? Read more below…
- Block the offensive profile immediately: Why let them distract us from our fun? People are accountable to their own action and they are free to express their own opinion and so do we. Just press the block button and move on. If the bully continues a personal threat or attack in our IMs, you may have stronger evidence to lodge a report.
- Report cyber-bullying to the right channel: That’s what the report button is for. Use it and include the necessary evidence that may support the claims. Keep a copy of the report. We have the rights to follow up with Linden Labs accordingly to ensure it has been acted upon.
- Don’t look down on yourself: Dwelling on it or reading the bullying incidence logs over and over won’t make you feel better. Instead, delete any cyber-bullying messages and focus on positive experiences! We may even ask our friends to stop nagging about the issues when they occur. There are many great things about you, so be proud and keep your spirit up!
- Remain positive and spend time doing things you enjoy: Life has a lot more to offer and explore. We shouldn’t limit or distance ourselves due to fear. We have a choice, either to let the cyber-bullies affects our life or we just walk away and pursue our dreams. Building, dancing, role-playing, shooting zombies, having a nice chat or even playing with the “poseballs”.
- View cyber-bullying from a different perspective: A cyber-bully is an unhappy, frustrated person who wants to have control over our feelings so that we feel as bad as they do. Don’t give them the satisfaction!
- Don’t try to control the uncontrollable: Many things in life, or SL in this matter, are beyond our control—including the behavior of other people. Rather than letting it stress us out, why not focus on the things we can control such as the way we choose to react to bullies.
Spend time to learn and understand the SL community guidelines. Self-regulation and knowing what can be done is always the best defense in cyber-space. Don’t let other people be in-control of your emotions and SL experience!
Another thing that we should be aware of; bullying is often a learned behavior. It does not come naturally. Some cyber-bullies became aggressive due to their past experiences. For the LGBT community, lets step up and set a good example to others! Remember, respect is to be earned and not to be demanded — It is reflected from the way we do things and how we portray ourselves.
“Stay Calm and Be Positive!”