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The Menace Of The Internet Trolls: Why Cyber Bullying Demands Serious Attention

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By Parul Assudaney:

In the seventh and final part of the Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter, Hermoine Granger and Ron Weasely encounter a strange symbol that an eccentric wizard named Xenophilius Lovegood tells them represents the mythical Deathly Hallows, which has a story behind it. The story revolves around three wizard brothers who once conquered death for a short time by defeating a deadly obstacles with their magic. The personification of death appeared out of anger because he felt that they had cheated him, but pretended to congratulate them by awarding them gifts of their choosing: The Elder Wand, The Resurrection Stone and the Invisibility Cloak. Two of the three brothers wished to conquer death beyond what they had done already, and foolishly chose their gifts accordingly, leading to their early demise. The third brother was wiser, and hid under the Invisibility Cloak that allowed him to postpone death until he was ready; he lifted the veil that had helped him to evade the afterlife and was welcomed by death.

In the world that we live, that invisibility cloak is provided in the form of the internet. Though it does not help in evading death (because that will be taking a step too far), it does provide ‘anonymity‘.

trolls

Zelda Williams, daughter of deceased actor Robin Williams, can vouch for the ramifications of this anonymity that Internet provides, with the week that she has had. After the tragic passing of her father, she posted a message on her Twitter page in his memory with a quote from French author Antoine De Saint-Exupery. Many people did use the medium of Twitter to send her condolences, but some used this medium to send her heinous tweets in words. And at least two users sent her gruesome photoshopped images of her father’s body after his death, which made her leave social media and report those users for the abuse.

Not knowing Sachin Tendulkar can be damaging, and Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova also realised it the hard way when annoyed fans of the Indian cricketing legend stormed her Facebook account with unpleasant comments for not recognising him.

The controversy started when the cricket icon was spotted in the royal box along with former England skipper Andrew Strauss and England soccer star David Beckham at a recent match, and a reporter later asked Sharapova, “Do you know who Sachin is”, to which she replied, “I don’t.” For Tendulkar fans though, this was an insult they could not withstand. They took to social media like hound dogs and over 50,000 comments were posted on the official Facebook page of Sharapova.

So, what makes a person disregard the feelings and emotions of another human being on the other end of the computer by sending such insensitive messages?

The motives can range from simple boredom to having some fun, and having a few good laughs to sadistic pleasures. A recent survey suggested that 1 in 3 young people were the subject of trolling in the last six months — and 1 in 4 are affected by it regularly.

But this act of ‘trolling’ or cyber-bullying has some serious repercussions. A recent survey was conducted talking about the effects of these negative comments. According to George Mason University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, online rudeness and gross, negative comments have the power to influence the opinion of otherwise objective readers. The readers aren’t overly affected by civil comments, but the group of readers exposed to the uncivil comments are more divided, more likely to change their perceptions and prone to focusing on the negative aspects. It polarises the audience.

Also, a lot of people refrain from sharing there thoughts and opinions on varied topics on various social media sites to avoid facing any kind of criticism or flak.

Thus, to deal with the problem of trolling, many social networking sites are taking measures to control it. After the incident with Zelda Williams, Twitter Vice President said in a statement, “We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter”, and have already deleted some accounts of users related to this issue and have decided to review it’s user-protection policies. YouTube also took measures to rein in trolling. The comment section below YouTube videos is full of trolls who abuse and spam. Google’s online video service is rolling out changes to the way comments work on YouTube, giving creators more power to moderate and block comments, and adding new sorting mechanisms to ensure better, more relevant discussions appear at the top.

As long as act of trolling doesn’t come with some serious consequences and people are held responsible for it, this problem cannot be contained.

You must be to comment.
  1. The Joker

    Who is Sachin?

  2. Babar

    Cyberbullying is also about stealing other people’s identities, harassing them, posting vicious text messages, etc.

    Below is a movie on the subject:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1930315/

    Watch it online here:
    http://vimeo.com/89102621

  3. mahigala7

    Why are you so pessimistic about trolling in general? It is far better than those clamorous debate shows or rather any other destructive mean to express your displeasure. Trolls have given birth to constructive criticism and intelligent humor. Stupid people deserve sarcastic answers. As long as fools are around, trolls will endure.

    1. Jigsaw

      Mahigala7, clearly knowing that trolling has driven people to suicide, you continue to unabashedly write in its favour showing very little appreciation for human life.

      Will you come face to face with reality and accept that trolling is a menace or will you continue to support trolling, thus becoming an additional source to the misery inflicted by immoral trollers.

      The choice is yours.

    2. mahigala7

      It’s a perspective thing. Trolling is purely an intentional criticism towards unethical persons who deserve to get bullied for their misbehavior. It’s a mean to express your disappointment towards that people’s wrongful behavior, thought or comment. It’s not derogatory, its revolutionary.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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