Yup. It's pretty sad really. I was on one of my favorite sites-- www.Sojournals.com-- last year, made a comment to a public blog posted on there and, apparantly, a war was launched. This joker-- who goes by several aliases, one of two of them being First Scribe and the other being Djehuti Wa Kamau-- felt so offended that I commented on his public blog as being overly naive and offensive that he felt the need to make a personal attack. Later, still angry, he began to post things on other websites about me, evident when I began to get Google alerts that my name was being used in posts without my consent. A recycled pdf s/he/it has fun posting is a rant about how I'm all of these terms-- a negro, nigger, ho, etc.-- and how he is a better writer than me. He represents the classic example of the cyber personas exemplified on so many websites that define this new type of online personality.
This experience has been a very useful example I share when I do workshops on online pros and cons and how to safeguard yourself from those online who hide behind their online personality. What research finds is that often those who are hateful, rude and very confrontational on line are those who would not feel so confident to do the same thing in person. As is exemplified with my cyber bully who has no online photos or any legitimate information that indicates that they are, in fact, a real person and not a fabricated persona, many cyber bullies are anonymous and unhappy folk who hide behind the false sense of security the internet provides.
As I am doing in my situation, the first thing to do when someone is cyberbullying you is to:
- Make sure you keep documentation of all the postings, emails, etc. that your stalker posts and/or sends you.
- Make sure, also, that you notify the sites that they post the information on so that an investigation can begin and/or so documentation can be created that you are attempting to have the information taken down. When unauthorized photos are posted, this is an example of copyright infringement that most sites don't allow and will, in most cases, immediately take down. The same usually results if the posting your stalker is posting is racist and hate-mongering in substance. This is especially true when a physical threat is made.
- Let Others Know. Don't feel like this is a situation you must handle alone. Experts are reporting that often those who are cyberbullied often experience the same feelings those who are bullied in person endure. If this is something that happens to you, don't believe that you have to keep this secret.
- Contact Your Local Police Department. Some cities/states have specific units that address online crimes. Inquire to see what services are in place to help stop your cyber bully.
My situation is a bit different than typical cases because I don't know my cyber bully personally and they have taken an extreme interest in following my online presence for over a year. However, my experience can be a lesson that no matter how minute the interaction on line, you can unknowingly cross paths with that one person who is having a bad day/life and has chosen you as their target. Luckily, with a strong team of support and advisors, the information my cyber bully posts is usually taken down immediately. However, it is always prudent to take precautions beforehand to avoid becoming someone's next target.