Cyber Bullies – The Terminators of the Design Community

Not everyone has been mistreated by a school yard bully. However, everyone knows bullying exists. Bullying is not restricted by age or environment and doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical altercation to be considered bullying. In fact, designers and developers are also prone to bullying – cyber bullying. You may have been unfairly and unreasonably criticized and made to feel small or defeated. Clients, designers, developers and even the audience you cater to are all capable of bullying if they choose to do so. More often than not, culprits hide behind false identities and abuse others just for their own twisted pleasure.

Cyber Bullies – The Terminators of the Design Community
Image credit: bernov69


Cyber bullying is a rapidly increasing trend that is not a good sign for our web community. Statistics show that almost all bloggers have experienced some form of cyber bullying at one point or another.

Negativity online can become too much for anyone to bear. In extreme cases, it will terrorize and traumatize people and affect their quality of work. When one becomes afraid of criticism and negativity, you are prevented from fulfilling your full potential. Stamp out bullying. Treat others the way you would like to be treated; with respect and dignity. In order for the community to grow, we must do our best to minimize and discourage cyber bullying.

Today, we’ll take a look at the negative effects of cyber bullying on the design community as well as on the writer. Cyber bullies are like weeds in a garden. They are not outright lethal or dangerous, but they stunt the growth and quality of the surrounding plants and flowers. If all bullies think twice before committing this “cyber crime” and consider mending their ways, the web community would be a more enjoyable place and will be able to flourish and grow positively. If you are a cyber bully, consider these factors mentioned here and reflect upon your actions.

Cyber Bullying – More Than Just A Term

Let’s explore the term cyber bullying and clarify the definition of this “crime”.

Cyber bullying presents itself in many forms; mean-spirited comments are very common, so are threats and offensive behavior. When digital technology is intentionally used to torment, threaten, harass, humiliate or embarrass, it is considered as cyber bullying. While missing the physical aspect of bullying, often times, cyber bullying is even more vindictive because physical wounds can heal but emotional wounds leave a lasting impression and mark on a person.

The Bully’s Cyber Playground

Cyber bully can happen to you anywhere online and on various platforms. Social networking sites, chat rooms, instant messaging programs, email, text messaging, personal digital assistants (PDA), and of course internet websites like design blogs or forums.

Playground
Image credit: Martin Cogley

Putting a Face to the Cyber Bully

As mentioned above, anyone is capable of being a cyber bully. No one is perfect. We are all susceptible to our human emotions and frailties. Fellow designers could very easily cross the line when the green eyed monster is in play. Very easily, what should have been common and objective criticism can turn very ugly, very fast.

Anyone
Image credit: Arthur Coddington

There are many various motivations that can propel a person to partake in cyber bullying. Anger, jealousy, revenge, and in some cases, just entertainment is a sufficient reason to bully. Humans put other human beings down to feel better about themselves, and to exert the fact that they have power over someone else. Sometimes, a victim could suddenly lash out after much repression only to find themselves becoming the bully they once feared so much.

There are so many reasons why people bully, as such each case of cyber bully needs to be tackled different. Unfortunately, because of our human complexity, there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution where cyber bullying is concerned.

Be aware that it is not necessary for you to have made any mistakes to be targeted and persecuted by cyber bullies.

Understanding the Bully

Doctors have to first diagnose a patient’s illness before they can prescribe an appropriate medicine. This is the same with the cyber bully. In order to try and resolve this issue, we must first understand the reasons why cyber bullies bully. What do they want? What is their psychological mindset? Is it fame, notoriety or attention that they seek?

Reading Bullies
Image credit: --Tico--

Some bullies do bully because they like the attention. Some do it because they like to terrorize others to feel more powerful. Others do it because they are jealous and bully to make themselves feel better. Cyber space is a great place to express your true self without fear of consequence or backlash. Bullies abuse this fact by not thinking about the consequences and the harm they might cause to others.

Bullies are even more daring in cyber space because they believe that they can hide their true identity and not have to face the consequences of their crimes. This is irresponsible behavior and a cowardly manner to express oneself.

The Thin Line between Constructive Criticism and Vindictive Bullying

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. Sadly, cyber bullies abuse this power and use it as a tool to further their egos and personal power. Constructive feedback and comments are crucial for improvement and advancement especially in the design community. However, one should never cross the line between giving constructive criticism from outwardly being forceful and hostile.

Tact is the key here. Say what you want but always considered the impact of your words. Put yourself in the other person’s shoe and ask yourself if you would like to be treated that way. If the answer is no, then perhaps you should think twice before committing to that act.

Do We Have Ourselves to Blame?

The design community is full of beauty and creativity. However, behind the scenes, the world of design is a very harsh and sometimes brutal environment. There is plenty of mediocre and substandard sites and information floating around on the World Wide Web. If your site doesn’t produce something worth their time, designers will not hesitate to point that out. We can’t always please or satisfy everyone. While we cannot control what people like or who visits our sites, we can ensure that our projects are of a decent standard at the very least and what you produce is not a repetition but of some benefit to the community.

Blame Who?
Image credit: Uriela Marie

The design community is constantly in discourse regarding the improvement and substance of online content. We constantly have to update ourselves and keep with the trends at the very least, even if we cannot make new trends. Poor content like list articles are less appreciated because of the over-saturation of such content. We cannot just follow old trends and forget to make new breakthroughs. It falls on each and every one’s own shoulders to ensure that we continue to improve rather than stay stagnant or worse, deteriorate.

Here are some interesting articles to read:

The Senseless Torture Design Blogs Suffer

Maintaining a community blog and constantly publishing useful and informative content is no easy feat. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize the effort and work that needs to go into any content prior to publication.

Not knowing the time and effort it takes really isn’t that big of a deal. However, it becomes a problem when people do not appreciate the difficulty of the task and penalize you for not providing the best available resource for them.

Suffering
Image credit: Emily Thomas

Some people will help improve your content by sharing their views and providing extra links to resources relating to your article. However, there are others who only criticize rather than help improve the content and the community.

The Protection Action against Cyber Bullying

Some websites help protect people from cyber bullying, through specific clauses in their terms of service. However, not all do. For instance, Blogspot, a blogging service run by Google has it stated that they will not take a blog down if a defamation of character has occurred unless by court order. Depending on which country you reside in, getting such a court order can be difficult because not all authorities are properly trained in cyber crimes or specifically in regards to cyber bullying.

Protection
Image credit: Paul Hocksenar

Design blogs have the ability to moderate comments and prevent spam or negative comments from being published. This is a good way to stop attacks from becoming a public flogging; however, it will still negatively affect your morale especially if the attacks continue.

If you are active in the blogosphere, be wary of people who are wrapped up in “online drama”. You don’t want to be dragged into their “drama” lest they turn their negative attentions on you and make you their new target.

5 Tips on How to Win the War against Cyber Tyranny!

Be the Bigger Man - See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil

Ignore their pointless and useless comments. Bullies hide behind the fact that they cannot be identified in person and don’t leave names, contact details or website profiles. It is human nature to want to protect yourself and hit back. However, don’t fall into their trap. Expert bullies do not push their victims outright. They taunt and tease to incite you to fight back and be the one to throw the first punch. Learn to walk away.

Strength in Numbers – Fight the Fight Together

When bullies go overboard, fight back! However, be sure to fight with honor. Go up against bullies the right way. If a particular bully is harassing many others besides yourself, rally your fellow bloggers in the design community and boycott the bully so that no one else will get affected. This is not easy to accomplish, unless if you have the support of the community. However, this is one way to step in the right direction in making the Internet a better and more positive place to be in.

Report the Crime – Seek Out Lady Justice

Although local law enforcement may not be equipped to deal with cyber bullying, there is no harm in reporting the situation to the relevant authorities. Document everything and gather proof of the bullying. Proof in hand, seek out the proper authorities so that they can help you deal with the situation and the people involved. Each country has different laws and regulation regarding the Internet. If your country does not have the means to resolve the bullying, it will be a long road ahead. However, if the problem persists and more people report such activities, eventually, the authorities will notice the increasing problem and will find a way to handle cyber crimes in time to come. If no one speaks out about cyber bullying, no one can help you and the problem will just worsen.

Keep the Faith – It’s Not You, It’s Them

Bullies derive power and joy from seeing other people suffer. Don’t allow them to get through to your psyche. If you approach them, plead them or beg them to stop the bullying, it will only encourage them to do more harm. Don’t give them a reaction.

However, the most important thing is to not allow them to break your own defenses down. You are not the one at fault and you do not deserve such blatant attacks. Remain strong and keep your faith and confidence in yourself. If you break down or lose confidence, even if you do not respond to the bullies, you would have lost the fight. Do not back down; show them that despite their attempts to bully you, you are still capable of producing useful, creative and good content and projects.

Improve Yourself – Prove Them Wrong

What better way to slap these bullies in the face than to prove them wrong? Cyber bullies might say your work or content is bad or even attack your character or personality. However, continuously work on improving yourself and your work. When others recognize the effort you’ve put in and the improvements you’ve made, they will bestow due credit and praise upon you. As more and more people recognize your growing talents, cyber bullies will have no substance in their negative comments. This will only help others to see the bully’s true colors and elevate your personality and character for facing them with dignity and handling the situation maturely.

10 Negative Comments in Design Blogs You Shouldn’t Emulate

You’ve got to love the invention of comment control. If not for it, there could be worse cases of cyber bullying than there are today. We have asked many design blogs in the community regarding cyber bullying and if they’ve been a victim before. Almost each design blog has had their fair share of nasty and abusive comments. Fortunately, we designers are optimists and look at the bright side of life. Rather than moping over it, take it with a pinch of salt and move on.

Here are some examples of negative and undesirable comments that design blogs receive. Please be aware that comments might have been removed from the original site.

Webdesigndepot

Web Design Depot

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine 2

Smashing Magazine 3

Smashing Magazine 4

Slodive

Slodive

Onextrapixel

Onextrapixel

Instant Shift

Instant Shift

HongKiat

HongKiat

Cat Who Blog

Cat Who Blog

Build Internet

Build Internet

Build Internet 2

Aext

Aext

1stwebdesigner

We could have seen more hasher and nastier comment even not of the invention of comment control. A lot of this negativism does not meet the daylight but there are still some who did.

Join the Club! Read More About Other Community Savers!

Don’t Be A Menace – Stop the Bullying Today!

The best medicine to this malice is to not be affected by them. If bullying is the crime, the cure is not giving them encouragement to continue the bullying. Remember that reacting to bullying is the bully’s prize. Don’t give them the satisfaction by letting them get to you emotionally or mentally.

Cyber bullying is not ‘normal’ and is not ‘okay’. Everyone can lend a hand and play a part in stopping cyber bullying. Participate in healthy communication and be tactful when sharing your thoughts and feelings. The Internet is a public space, one that we are all responsible for. Let’s all make the Internet a more enjoyable place.

Have you ever been a victim of cyber bullying? Share your story with us and how you handled the situation.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Onextrapixel.