How to Ensure You Don’t Give Someone Undeserved Power Over You

TRIGGER WARNING: ONLINE BULLYING, TROLLING

So, it’s been over a week. You undoubtedly have seen the article in The Daily Dot about @xiaxue body shaming model La’Shaunae Steward. Xiaxue photoshopped herself as fat (she is normally straight sized) and wrote: 

“How to ensure everyone says you are beautiful in 2020. Am I beautiful now?” 

– Xiaxue

The answer? No, you’re not beautiful. That was one of the ugliest things any could do. Xiaxue was outright abusive in her language with phrases like: 

“They gorge themselves with 30 burgers a day and when they inevitably get a clogged artery or diabetes taxpayers have to help foot their medical bills when their health conditions are entirely caused by their irresponsible behaviour. Disgusting.”

“The morbidly obese (like this woman) should never been seen as attractive because death and disease isn’t attractive full stop.”

And 

“Irresponsibility isn’t attractive. Even when they die need 3 pple [sic] to carry the corpse please.

[Please note we did not link back to her social media, but we did want you to have the full picture of what happened. We are not encouraging you to seek out and follow her. It’s important to note that she has since removed those comments, so you won’t find them if you do look] 

You can find more coverage on the backlash she received below: 

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/body/a30976881/instagrammer-fat-shaming/

Steward seems to not have publicly responded on her instagram account. But, we cannot verify that she didn’t respond in her stories. She did however, respond on Twitter. You can see some of her responses here: 

https://www.the-sun.com/lifestyle/416162/plus-size-model-hits-back-after-youtuber-claims-morbidly-obese-people-are-disgusting/

As we were looking at Steward’s situation, we thought, “Perhaps we can reflect on online trolling and see if there are some tips we’ve learned that might help others.” 

Trolling isn’t new. And, if you’re reading this, you may have even been trolled or bullied in your lifetime. While not synonymous, they are related. A “troll” is defined, by Webster as a person who intentionally antagonizes others online by posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content. Cyberbullying is defined (by Oxford, “cyberbullying” was not listed on Webster) as the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. It seems like the major difference in a troll is their desire to disrupt, even if the information spread is irrelevant, as noted above. Trolling creates a reaction, as intended. 

Internet trolling has become so prevalent that the Catholic Pope has requested that catholics give up “trolling” for 40 days of lent. 

We thought we’d give you some tips that may help you get through your experience. This comes from some of our own experience as well as some common and not so common practices we’ve seen around the interwebs. 

1- Research on trolling has shown that trolls rarely even believe what they are saying. Again, note the irrelevance in the defintion (sometimes, not all the time, of course). But, we ask…. “If a troll doesn’t care to believe what they are saying, why do we focus and replay their words?” We shouldn’t. We completely understand that this is WAY easier than it sounds. And, your anxiety about the situation may be at play. 

2- Report the profile for harassment. You can let others know to do it, as well. But, that’s a slippery slope. Fueling the fire may only make it worse. This includes commenting back, but sometimes we do know you absolutely feel like you have to get things off of your chest. And, that’s completely fine. 

3- You are completely within your right to delete comments and block people. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There are even settings that allow you to prohibit people (or certain people) from commenting on specific posts. Some people think that you are obligated to keep those comments up for authenticity reasons. We disagree. 

4- There are many groups on all of your social media platforms that will help support you as you are dealing with trolling. Activities range from support to advocacy. 

5- Lastly, we want to remind you that hate does not beat hate. If you need to remove yourself from the online universe, please do so. But, we always feel that repeating a pattern of abuse is never the right answer. 

Bold is currently researching resources for you to stop or avoid internet trolls. We’d like to supply you with a sequel to this article. In the meantime, BE BOLD!

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