It's been a weird couple of weeks for me. As many of you know I was on the receiving of a very personal and embittered cyber campaign that attempted to expose me and many others as Instagram frauds.
I've written a complete rebuttal addressing the accusations of the article, which has since been removed. You can read that article in-depth here.
It's a very strange place to carve a living; the internet. I've had some people tell me you haven't arrived unless you're upsetting someone. If you’re pleasing everyone you're pleasing no one. Can you imagine what it's like to fear picking up your phone each time you feel it vibrate.
Those little notifications that often feel like a mini pat on the back, suddenly feels like someone threading live rats through your letterbox.
Carl aren't you a little old to be cyber-bullied?
Firstly, age is but a number when you're getting your name dragged through the mud online. Secondly, this is a brave new world we're living in. Instagram wasn't around when I was at school. Those were the halcyon days of old school bullying.
This is a new wave.
What are the effects of Cyber-bullying?
I'm fairly thick-skinned. I don't like to get into it on social media and many times in the last couple of weeks I had to sheath my tongue. It can be a race to the bottom and for what? For some elusive moral victory? I'd rather not and to immortalise the words of Ron Burgundy I'd much rather 'stay classy'.
I implore you to do the same.
The basic effects of cyber-bullying and its manifestations are increased depressive symptoms, lower self-worth, panic and in my case anxiety.
Is this just snowflake mentality?
I get that a lot. The man-up, go hard or go home attitude. Sure, that's all fine with me. But I can tell you this last week I've had some bloggers and influencers whose names were also enmeshed in that article, in my living room, in tears.
This is a real thing, with real repercussions. Some of the research I've done on this matter tells me although the bullying stops quite quickly, the harm can permeate for a long time.
The only thing I can say is why cyber-bullying gets wrongly dismissed as snowflake mentality is because it's something our reptilian brains have come accustomed to.
We don't have any physical battle scars. We're needing to deal with this modern day scourge on an intellectual and emotional level. Some of us are predisposed to handle cyber bullying better. Maybe older, mature and maladaptive. Others climb to the top of a water tower and jump to their deaths.
Did that make you uncomfortable? Sorry, this isn't a comfortable subject.
What can we do to prevent cyber bullying?
I'm sure you've all heard of the software ReThink? Devised for a Google Science fair by a 14 year old. ReThink is a product that gives adolescents trying to post offensive messages on social media a second chance to reconsider their decisions.
Basically it's like a vetting notification that says, 'hey, this comment sounds like you didn't take your asshole pills today, you sure you want to make someone else feel as bad as you?'
It won a spot as a Global Finalist at Google Science Fair 2014 and winner of PowerPitch 1871, Chicago’s technology and entrepreneurial hub.
Tweet others how you'd wish to be tweeted yourself. You might think the person is so popular or too big of a deal to read your glib remarks on social media. But they do. They get through like farts between the sheets.
My suggestion is try and offer someone a bit of encouragement instead. Try and be nice to one single human being a day and see how that makes you feel.