It is not something easy to bring up again, even after about four years or so. Looking back, I am not proud of what I did and I still have regrets. I have to admit this, though:
I was an online bully.
How did that happen? You might be wondering or scoffing: “Who has never been one since the internet era, even for just once in their lives?” Well, even if it is true, this does not make me feel any better. Looking at how most people have been trolling @Awkarin online these days just brings back those dark memories.
No, I was not bullying anyone famous, even by social media standard. It was an acquaintance.
It started with my friendship with this girl at work. Let’s call her ‘Celia’*. Celia and I started hanging out together after our mutual friend had introduced us to each other. Shamefully, we were already in our early thirties, with her being three years older than me. She had also been divorced from her first – and abusive – husband.
Just like the usual drama, everything went well at first. I had been having some ‘difficulties’ at home, including the fact that my father had already been a long-term stroke patient on a treatment. It was nice to have someone like Celia around. She had been nothing but sweet, understanding, and amazingly supportive for someone I had just gotten to know. We occasionally hung out with the same group of friends. We texted each other. We chatted online – mostly through our social media chatroom – quite excessively. We had grown close…and opened up to one another about our own issues. My communication problems with my own family. Her insecurity long after the divorce.
Until she suddenly came up with this crazy idea of bullying another girl on her social media friends’ list. Let’s call her Naira**.
I should have seen this coming, even before she proposed the idea. First sign? Celia bitched about people she did not like…a lot. That included girls she had always found prettier, sexier, richer, and more ‘whatever’ than she was – according to her. Celia said those girls had always had problems with her, especially when she close to men they happened to like. She did not know why. She had even bitched about one of the girls in our circle of friends constantly, often over petty things. I had felt like I was one of the minor cast on “Mean Girls” and it was not comfortable.
Then why did she want to bug Naira online? Celia said that Naira’s posts were annoying as hell: constantly expressing self-pity after her last boyfriend had dumped her. Celia found her pathetic and disgraceful, because women should remain strong and independent, no matter what. Since Celia was divorced after three years of marriage, she said she had earned more “rights” to complain about her life.
I am not going to justify what I did or make an excuse about it. I was at my weakest and lowest point, vulnerable and insecure. I had let Celia use me to bully Naira online. Naira, the girl who had never caused me any trouble at all. At first, I thought it would be fun. Here I am, a chubby girl who has often been bullied and made to feel guilty about her looks, now getting a chance to bring a slim, pretty girl down.
For a while, it was intoxicatingly fun. I started commenting to Naira’s every ‘lame’ status with my scathing “don’t be such a cry-baby or a damsel-in-distress” taunts and other ‘sophisticated’ insults that I could come up with. Celia was clearly enjoying every bit of it. We had laughed about Naira a lot.
Until things got way too far and Naira was really hurt. She had even asked me once: “What did I ever do to you?”
It was also the very moment that I started seeing Celia’s true colours…and they were not pretty. I know I wished to know how it would have felt like to be hurting others like I had been hurt before.
Well, it sucked big time. There was my answer. Not only had I wasted my time, but I was turning into someone I actually despise, thanks to the emotionally-manipulative Celia.
My first serious fight with Celia had been through our mutual friend Tobias***. The two of them had an argument and she had flooded my phone with her angry rants about him – on every app and social media inbox I shared with her! I did not say much until I confronted Tobias about this and boy, was he furious. He told me that if Celia had had a problem with him, it should have just stayed between them and not involved me – causing me all that unnecessary stress and anxiety. Celia was not being fair.
So was I with Naira.
When Celia decided to stop speaking to Tobias and me, I let it slide. Her accusation? “Don’t bother; I’ve already known whose side you’re on.” She did not even bother wait for my explanation.
During that time, Naira approached me online. We had a serious talk. I apologised and she said she forgave me. Surprisingly, she also said that she had known all along that I was not the bullying type. Whatever had happened between her and Celia, I did not (want to) know. That should never have been my business in the first place.
Putting up with Celia and her behaviour had been worse than riding on a roller-coaster with your stomach full. I am not going to list down all the awful things she had ever said to me, because it is just not worth it. However, if you happened to know her and asked her about this, believe me when I say that her version would be much different. Anything to save her own skin.
Celia had tried to repair our friendship many times, but she also kept repeating the same old pattern. She still bitched about people she did not like, as if there was no other topic left. She still had this crazy double-standard: her wanting to know other people’s personal business, but she kept hers a secret.
When Celia is not happy that people do not do things her way, she lashes out and calls them names. She backbites them online, even with her #nomention statuses. So typical. It has got so bad that I had to limit seeing her feeds and her from seeing mine. Enough is enough.
I suppose she has done more damage to our friendship than what I would like to admit, even to myself. I know she is not happy with her own life, but that still does not give her the rights to judge others and bring them down. I am afraid that I am still in the process of forgiving her for having turned me into a bully, even for a short while.
We are in charge of what we post on our social media page. However, we are not in control of what others may think of us. I am not saying that I agree with whatever @Awkarin and her ex Gaga has done. Since both are still minors, they should be their parents’ responsibility. Who are we to judge? We can only express our worry and concern. If you think trolling her social media page with curses and other harsh words will get her to change her ways dramatically, then good luck with that.
Keep yourself busy, people. What you see online is endless, just like real life. No need to consume everything. The choice is yours.
(* , ** , *** – All names have been changed.)