A while back, I was scrolling through Twitter when I got notified that someone DM-ed me. I’d recently written yet another article on menstruation, so I was prepared for – rather, I was expecting – the worst. When I opened the message, I wasn’t all too surprised. Yet another day, yet another internet troll.
He started off by getting right to the point
Lesson number one: If my DMs are open so that people can reach out to me, it’s definitely me asking to be called a slut. Only sluts enable direct messaging. That celebrity you want to DM telling them you love them? Slut. Do you leave your DMs open, too? If yes, then welcome to the slut club.
Next, he proceeded to wish me the absolute best he had to offer
Lesson number two: Judging by the
egg’s dude’s kaafi achi grammar and punctuation, I realized that seemingly educated individuals aren’t above internet trolling. While most of us tend to think that people who don’t understand all the news -isms that have been popping up attack people on the internet, it was interesting to note that seemingly well-informed individuals can be internet trolls as well.
He then went on to impart some of his knowledge
Lesson number three: my existence was somehow a linchpin for an entire racial war. And somehow, my emotions and my monthly cycle too, for some reason, were fucking up our chances of winning this war.
Anyway, he continued his rant unabashedly
And ended it with a promise
(Spoiler: He didn’t follow through and I lived.)
I’d forgotten about this until earlier this week when something similar happened. I was trying to strike up a conversation on an online discussion forum. Nothing too controversial either. Just talking to university students about grades, graduation and the like. That’s when I was showered with a bevy of affection yet again.
Much like before, when I was approached by a “gentle soul” again, the sources preferred to remain anonymous and had a lot to say
Reasons for hating me were listed (though I really don’t remember asking for them)
I was given a heads up, too
Now, I promise this isn’t a Sahir Lodhi-isque rant. I fully understand that a huge part of being online is dealing with people who sit behind their screens that double as masks, allowing them to get away with saying things they normally would not.
However, I was made to see that though this may seem like a trivial matter to me, it may actually be what pushes someone else on the receiving end of this off the edge. I was rightfully made to see that this wasn’t about me. There was a much larger issue at hand.
In 2015, the Pakistan Federal Investigation Agency received more than 3000 reports of cyber crime in the form of cyber harassment. 3000 cases.
Let’s keep in mind the fact that countless other cases may not have been reported at all. Undoubtedly, easy access to the Internet means that more and more perverse assholes join social media platforms, preying on individuals to harass – just to get a kick out of it.
The fear of being judged, isolated and blamed in cases like these stops the victims in our society from speaking up about it as well. I, personally, was told by many that I shouldn’t have left my DMs open. Many advised me to reduce my online activities as well. However, none of these are actual solutions. So – what exactly should victims of cyber harassment do? Should they have to grin and bear this form of mental torture?
Well, there’s actually a genuinely helpful way to go about handling such a situation: contacting Digital Rights Foundation
Established primarily to combat cases of cyber harassment, Nighat Dad – activist and lawyer – and her team set up the organization. Digital Rights Foundation’s hotline is functional from 9 a.m to 5 p.m, Monday to Friday, for those in distress. Additionally, they can be contacted through their e-mail address and through Facebook as well.
The staff at Digital Rights Foundation emphasizes on how cases of cyber harassment should be taken more seriously.
The hotline was set up to be a source of aid for all those who felt they had no one to turn to. The team at Digital Rights Foundation offers psychological counseling and legal advice as well. At a time when cases of online harassment are increasing, it should not be a pipe dream to hope for some form of accountability and justice.
No one should be made to feel on edge and uncomfortable within the confines of their houses (or anywhere, for that matter.) If you happen to be a victim of cyber bullying of any kind, do not hesitate to give the helpline a call. Perhaps, in doing so, you help put away someone whose words could one day translate into actions and prove to be fatal for the victim.