Cardi B Says She Felt ‘Suicidal’ Because of Online Harassment — Here’s What a Therapist Says About How To Deal With Cyberbullying
“I felt extremely suicidal,” Cardi testified during the libel trial. “I felt defeated and depressed and I didn’t want to sleep with my husband.” Cardi B also said that the entire ordeal caused her to suffer from “fatigue, weight loss, migraines, and anxiety.”
To fans of Cardi B, the idea that she could be emotionally hurt by a blogger seemed surprising. After all, Cardi B is a beloved Grammy-winning rapper and multimillionaire. But the case proves a powerful lesson: celebrities are humans too, and they have feelings.
We live in a society where many of us spend several hours a day consuming content — this includes content coming from our phones, our TVs and other forms of digital media. At this point, we’ve heard of the dangers of being disconnected from our reality too much or too often. There are the physical risks, such as eye and back strain, sleep deprivation, increased risk of diabetes and loss of cognitive ability.
But then, there is another side of spending too much time on the internet — arguably, a more insidious threat. The internet may be desensitizing us to the pain of others.
According to social scientists, much of our capacity for empathy relies on nonverbal cues. Face-to-face, when we say something mean to someone, our brains process their physical reactions; their smile falters, their shoulders slump, they may even start to cry. But when we attack someone online, we don’t see their reaction. So that pang of guilt we feel when we see that we hurt someone’s feelings isn’t there.
“Anonymity gives people power. Distance also gives people power,” licensed mental health counselor and founder of Mind Matters Mental Health Counseling, Dr. Minerva Guerrero, told mitú. “People often have no boundaries online. This makes people more comfortable to say things that they would most likely never say to someone’s face. The idea of being able to hurt people with possibly facing no consequences also gives people the illusion of power.”
You may have been on the receiving end of this. According to the Pew Research Center, around four-in-ten Americans have experienced online harassment in their lifetimes. And being on the receiving end of personal insults, threats and angry comments can take a toll on one’s mental health.
If you’re one of the millions of people who have been the target of cyber bullying or online harassment, Dr. Guerrero recommends a few things.
1. Assess the bullying and check your local laws.
“It can be really hard to cope with a cyber bully because it’s easy to believe that the views of this bully are the views of the majority of people, especially if this bully is well-known and has some internet popularity. [For one,] you need to assess how serious the bullying is and check state laws. If someone is defaming your character and saying things that are not only inaccurate, but can have lasting negative impacts, it might be helpful to get legal advice/support on how to deal,” she shares.
2. Be mindful of the company you keep.
Dr. Minerva shared a second tip, which is something many overlook: having a strong support system. “Surround yourself with positive people and friends who know you and appreciate the amazing person that you are,” she says.
3. Minimize your exposure to the bullying.
Lastly, “take a social media break. Minimize your own exposure to the bullying, meaning do not read [the comments] over again or go looking for people’s comments or responses. It’s best for you to protect your peace, and if you can take a break from social media or other outlets, that’s probably best,” she advises, while advocating for social media detoxes when possible. “I highly recommend a digital detox from time to time, especially if you also notice feeling overwhelmed. There are different ways to do this. You can take a two-week break and remove the app from your phone completely for that time period, or you can limit your amount of time on it. There are apps that you can download that can help you track and limit your time on social media. Some include Social Fever, Moment, and Freedom.”
Above all, always remember that when people bully you online, it is a reflection of them, not you. The best way to combat hate is with love.
For more on cyberbullying, please visit: https://www.stopbullying.gov
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