You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you're having a really good day, and then—out of nowhere—you remember a really terrible thing you were doing such a good job of ignoring until that very moment, and suddenly the air in the room changes, breathing becomes a little more difficult, and a veil of hopelessness just drops on you, and no matter how hard you try to pry it off, the universe has already seemed to officiate a marriage between your mood and misery?
Well if that's what happens to most people every once in a while, that's how a victim of cyberbullying feels every day.
You see, being harassed online is a lot like being haunted; even when you think you're safe, in the back of your mind, you know you can never really escape the way it's always just lurking around the corner.
"Just close the tab," people will tell you, rolling their eyes like the solution was just so obvious and I can't believe you didn't think of that on your own!
But this is what you don't understand. Even once the window's been shut, the unbearably tight atmosphere of hatred still leaves it's trace, and their cold and icy words inspire goosebumps on even the thickest skin.
You may no longer see the glare of your device baring its angry and hateful messages, but it sticks to your mind like a psychological parasite that has deemed your self-esteem as the perfect weakened host. And besides, a pause in the presence of physical proof does not discount the way cyberbullying can and will break you mentally.
"Turn off your gadget," they might tell you with a bored and obvious stare. "If someone was talking trash about me online, I would just ignore it."
But you of all people would know how that is much easier said than done. Turning a blind eye to one insult may be doable, but waking up to 10+ comments about how many pounds you've put on or how annoying someone thinks you are or how people see you as such a dirty flirt or how much better everything would be if you just ended your existence completely? Yeah. Realizing that someone could think such horrible thoughts about you to the point that they actually set aside time to aid in deteriorating your self-worth is not exactly the easiest thing to brush off.
So I'm sorry.
To the girl who is getting bullied on social media—I am sorry.
I am sorry society preaches about helping those in need and reaching out to the fallen, but your issues are walked over and set aside simply because your pain comes in the form of an artificially-lighted screen and a string of computerized fonts.
I am sorry people have the audacity to act like you're being over-emotional or dramatic for turning it into a problem—an inbox, feed, or wall full of hatred, disrespect, and vulgarity that diminishes your worth to a single tweet, all of 140 characters.
I am sorry that in a place so concerned about how many likes you get, there is so little love left to receive.
But listen to me. No matter what happens, you will it make it out of this.
No matter how impossible and and unimaginable it may seem, I swear to you that with faith, a promise to develop your self-worth, the decision to focus only on positivity, kindness from the right people, and an overflowing amount of willpower to keep going, you will not only survive this but you will learn how to live happily and more empowered after.
I know you may not see it now, but one day you will realize that all this is just part of a personality-shaping process that will later benefit you in a way that will make all this agony worth it.
Because like what every internet browser has taught us, opening a new window always comes with the promise of a new blank and beautifully unpredictable page.