In another example of the ongoing wonderful, incredible, super duper "new niceness" internet phenomenon, another teenage girl has killed herself after repeatedly being called a slut and a "fuckin ugly ass hoe" by internet commenters.
Friends of 16-year-old Jessica Laney, who hanged herself on Sunday, "say bullying through social media played a major role," according to WPTV.
Like most teenagers, Laney spent a ton of time on Tumblr and Ask.fm, one of those sites where people can ask you questions about your sex life and tell you how ugly you are anonymously. Also like most teenagers, Laney couldn't help but take the bait when commenters asked personal questions about her virginity (she responded by looking vaguely skeptical while eating snacks) and "boys she was close with." And, as per usual when a teenage girl has any sort of internet presence, Laney received comments like "Can you kill yourself already?" and "Nobody even cares about you."
By now, we know how it goes: cue the Facebook memorial page and after-the-fact outrage. But some posters — who say Laney actually transferred schools due to bullying, although that's not confirmed — aren't just fuming and reminiscing. They're trying to take action with a Change.org petition to shut down Ask.Fm, and they're reaching out to press. According to WPTV, one friend wrote this on Facebook:
"…last night, my friend Jessica Laney took her life. She was constantly bullied and bullied. And she was pushed and pushed to the point where she couldn't handle it anymore. And if you could spread the word about the website ask.fm, & how it needs to be shut down, that would be amazing too. Ask.fm is a website where people can ask anonymous questions to anyone they want. And thats how Jessica was constantly put down and bullied. She was a beautiful girl & everyone loved her. Shes gonna be missed. We have to put an end to bullying. Please help…"
But getting rid of Ask.Fm or Formspring is pointless — the websites aren't legally obligated to police content and more sites will pop up in their place, anyway. We should teach kids not to participate, but teenagers love feeling like they're the center of attention, so it's unlikely most will be able to resist the siren calls of a website that tells you what your peers secretly think about you and wish they could say to your face. Besides, telling kids how not to get cyber-bullied is a little like telling rape victims how not to get raped.
Like Todd, Laney had thoughts on suicide. On Thanksgiving, someone asked her what she thought about it: "If you ever feel this low i just wanna [say it's] not your fault. People are mean. I know you feel useless broken not wanted and alone. i was there. But i promise you it will get better," she wrote. "Nothing is worth it; it will all get better<3"
[h/t The Daily Dot]
(Image from YouTube)