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How to safeguard yourself from Online Harassment???

The world that we live in is dictated by mobile phones, iPads, laptops and internet. To add to this problem, the pandemic hit us at the worst possible time, causing every person to move online. Now, while my 4-year-old nephew cannot eat a single meal without watching baby shark doo doo doo doo on YouTube, my 70-year-old grandmother cannot start her day without sending Good Morning messages to everyone on WhatsApp. We have started to trust social media so much that we are no longer mindful of the information we reveal and the people we connect with. The virtual world has a mix of everything- work, school, entertainment, academics, and... Harassment.

If you think you are safe within the 4 walls of your house; your internet will prove you wrong. Even if it may seem harmless, online harassment can be emotionally draining and has severe effects on one’s mental health. In these times, safeguarding yourself against virtual harassment and cyberbullying is a necessity and thankfully there are many ways to do so!

Here are 4 ways to protect yourself from online harassment.

  • Ek private account ki keemat, tum kya jaano Ramesh Babu?

Yes, I know you finally got an amazing picture after hundreds of attempts and you want to share that with the world. Or, you finally convinced your parents for that Goa trip with friends and now you are going to post every single update on your Instagram handle. Who doesn’t like to share such amazing moments with friends? I know I do. But when we are sharing every little detail of our lives on our social media, we should also be aware about who might be getting our personal information. Online harassment can be significantly discouraged if you have private settings on your social media. Make sure to not share your home address, phone number or other private details online and keep yourself safe from potential online bullying!

  • Time to forget “Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya”

Online dating is one of the coolest and scariest things to come out of this generation. Almost every long-distance couple, whether new or old engages in sexting. However, in this fast-paced world we often do not understand the risks associated with sexting. Always, and I emphasize ALWAYS make sure you fully trust your partner. In case you want to send pictures, make sure your identifiable features are not in the frame. Do not engage in sexting with a stranger or someone you met online and, in any case, don’t wait to take action. Talk to someone and remember you are not to be blamed.

  • Pushpa.. I hate stalkers!

In the online world, everyone seems to suffer from “stalk”holm syndrome. Be it your ex, a childhood one-sided lover or even a stranger, stalking can take different forms and its almost always frightening. If you feel like you are being stalked, do not be intimidated. In India, stalking- whether physical or electronic is a criminal offence. Block the person and report them on the concerned platform. You can also reset your password, check your privacy settings and keep digital evidence, if any. Trust your instincts and do not be afraid to file a complaint!

  • Jaa simran jaa, talk to someone about your trauma

It needs to be said. Online harassment is as draining as physical harassment. Cyberbullying can take a toll on one’s mental health. It can cause insecurities, stress and anxiety. Do not bottle up your emotions and talk to someone you can rely on. After all, this is a criminal offence and you have every right to be hurt and traumatised. Keep in mind that you are not wrong and will not be victim-shamed.

In the past few years issues like boy's locker room have highlighted the grave consequences of social media. This instance showed objectification of women and promotion of rape culture. While this one particular case got media coverage, thousands of cases do not. However, crimes like these happen every day around us. Anyone from young kids to adults can be a victim of online abuse.

We are all still figuring out the “correct” way of using the internet, if there is even any. Sensitive information in the wrong hands can lead to many repercussions. To ensure our own safety, we should be mindful of our activities on social media. Even if it may seem like it is, cyberbullying is not your fault. It can be embarrassing and humiliating but remember to seek help and report any unlawful activity on or through the helpline number 155260.

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