What I Learned After I Was Bullied Online For Reading ‘Trashy’ Books

Posted by Abhinanda Datta in #NoPlace4Hate, My Story, Society
October 28, 2017
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

The internet is crawling with ingrates, but the worst ones out there are the ‘psuedo-intellectuals’. They are a special group of people whose lives revolve around slamming others simply because they believe that they are superior to everyone else.

At a younger age, I was in the habit of proclaiming my love for popular literature and films on social media. I wrote about “Twilight” and “Princess Diaries” and fearlessly voiced my opinion. It is important to note that at no point did I declare that these books were better than the more thought-provoking works. I simply expressed what I felt. Nothing wrong with that, right?

But, if people were allowed to be left alone, then the world would not be so utterly screwed up. These predators soon found my posts and started doing what they do best – making others feel insecure in order to justify their own pointless existence. I remember receiving messages on Facebook about how stupid I was, and that despite being a part of the Jadavpur University (JU) Department of English, I indulged in ‘trashy’ reading. Moreover, they assumed that because I read these, I could not have possibly read Shakespeare or Milton.

Initially, I felt crushed and began doubting my capabilities. I was afraid of opening my Facebook page and avoided reading the messages. I was never a confident person to begin with. The fact that I had got into JU after going through a daunting examination process, had bolstered my self-esteem quite a bit. But alas! Even that was stolen from me.

I stopped discussing things online. However, the bullying did not stop. At the time, I worked for a newspaper that expected me to write about how women deal with break-ups. The day the article came out, a certain self-proclaimed ‘radical feminist’ from my university publicly shamed me on Facebook for writing about stress-eating post the end of a relationship, and how that only makes women gain weight. She never bothered to ask me how I had collected all that information. If she had, she would have known that I had spoken to therapists who supplied me with that information.

These people are like ants. The moment they get a whiff of something possibly controversial, they come and attack it. Her post obviously garnered a lot of support from her equally judgmental cohort and I was mortified. Once again, I refrained from going online.

It took me a long time to realise this, but I am glad I know about it now – internet bullies are lonely, miserable, insecure people who derive pleasure out of watching others suffer. Unfortunately, they do not have the capacity to do anything worthwhile – and hence, by being smart on the internet, they somehow validate their lives.

Maybe I am not intellectual or I do not only read canonical books, but I am a human being and I have the right to express myself on social media – as long as I am not hurting someone’s sentiments. We give power to the bullies by subjugating ourselves to their heinous acts. If we stop reacting, they will leave and find another target. And if everyone ignores them, they will have no one to traumatise.

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Featured image source: Abhinanda Datta/Facebook

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