Man, online bullying is the pits, and I'm so thankful the internet was not in wide use when I was in high school because it takes note passing to whole new levels of intensity. Back in my day, it would take a day or two for rumors to make their way around schools — now it only takes a few minutes. Your hormones and emotions are so out of whack at that age, too. What's a huge deal one minute, is forgotten the next. That is, if you have an actual minute to breathe.
These thoughts plague me when I hear of stories like Kylie Kylem. The 15-year-old recently took to twitter to talk of suicide, and the response from classmates wasn't compassion, it was the opposite. In the wake of Amanda Todd and others like her, it's especially unsettling.
Kylem began tweeting things like, "I don't know what to do anymore. I can't get out of my room. I can't face the world i don't want to be alive im done," and "I've got the blade in my hand :D i need to think BBL."
Scary shit! And instead of support or help from her followers, Kylem was greeted with an account named "KillYourselfKylie" (which has since been switched to Hayley_Foster17), who started tweeting garbage like:
Amanda Todd is dead now shes in hell kylie wants to kill herself welcome her to hell— deleted (@Hayley_Foster17) November 13, 2012
@yayyimkyliebaby We hate you just die... From sara, jesse, Hayley, Cat, Josh, becca and others— deleted (@Hayley_Foster17) November 13, 2012
Those listed names belong to Kylem's classmates. How awful. And Kylem responded thusly:
I can't stop crying plz leave me alone— ♥THANKS EVERYONE♥ (@YayyImKyliebaby) November 13, 2012
Thats it. Im done— ♥THANKS EVERYONE♥ (@YayyImKyliebaby) November 13, 2012
Then, to pile on the good times, another troll entered the mix. Because the only thing more fun than one asshole shitting on a hurting teenage girl is two assholes shitting on a hurting teenage girl.
That's when shit turned vigilante. Folks from Anonymous and Rustle League stepped in and started to serve the harassers with a
@hayley_foster17 Brace yourself motherfuckers. We've entered this fight, and there's many many more of us*snaps on the rubber glove* ENJOY— ☢-Ash-☢ (@Ash6699) November 14, 2012
And a side of
@yayyimkyliebaby Hi Kylie. Me & my Friends are here to stop the bullying aimed your way. And when I say it will STOP, it will STOP.— ⋂O⅄ ⋊Ɔ⋂Ⅎ™ (@GonzoPhD) November 14, 2012
DANG, it is ON.
With that, they swiftly went to work in a whirlwind of accusations and threats. In the end, they outed the trolls and got them to apologize or shut up. Although I really don't like lot of the hate language used by everyone in this situation, I'm glad that these people were there to stand up for a young girl who was obviously hurting. And, seriously, a big THE FUCK?! goes out to the grown man who inserted himself into the situation just to troll. Not cool, dude, and now your shit is all over the internet. Big mistake. Huge.
It's wonderful that Kylem is back on Twitter and thanking her new supporters and appearing well, in general. I hope that she's able to get the help that she needs because I know this wasn't a one time thing that's gonna be solved by a bunch of random tweets, but it could be the respite she needs to gain some perspective and get some help.
Overall, I think it's good that Anonymous and Rustle League stepped in and named names and shut it down but in an ideal world — I know, I know, we're not in that world, but let me dream, if just for a second! — this would serve as a catalyst to roll out new anti-bullying programs in schools. You know, the ones that teach peers to stand up for each other. Kids listen to their friends, and if their friends are telling them to knock it off, they'll most likely fall in line. It would be so fantastic to give students the tools to solve this shit themselves — before they have to deal with the adult consequences of their dangerous behavior. We can continue to push toward that, and encourage them to look out for each other. We can encourage the majority of kids — the ones who aren't the bullies or the bullied — to become brave enough to speak up and squash the loud, cruel voices of the few. This appears to be one of the things that actually helps squelch — or at least stem the tide of — bullying.
Until then, well, there's always Anonymous.
How Anonymous helped prevent a teen's suicide [Daily Dot]