It all began with ‘roasting’. Being a foodie, ‘roasting’ to me meant only one thing: marinated vegetables, fish, or meat cooked over slow heat to produce a heavenly gastronomical experience. Again, I was wrong! Roasting, as the eighth graders enlightened me, was actually a way of putting down a person with insults couched as humor….a particular favourite of the current brood of keyboard-happy netizens.
Like one thing leads to another, I went into a spree of discovery. As I read, spoke, and listened to the gen z around me, the ugly truth raised its hydra-head. Roasting, stalking, flaming were different avatars of cyberbullying. As the world battled with the lethal virus that traipsed the air we breathe, this silent pandemic has affected the virtual lives of millions of young people who were forced to spend hours before the screen. E-safety commissioners around the world report an increase of 36-50% increase of online abuse in the first three weeks of lockdown. Around 20% of the adolescent and youth population fall victim to this invisible monster. And it has also been noticed that on average only one out of ten victims report their plight.
The tentacles of cyberbullying are strong and far-reaching. Depression, anxiety, social awkwardness, low self-esteem, seclusion, and absenteeism from school and social occasions are common. Taking one’s life is also not unknown.
Now, how can an innocent joke be offensive?
If I call you an ‘elephant’ do you really become one?
Oh! I don’t really think you are ugly…it was a joke…you always overreact da.
Why do you have to be so dumb?
A joke is no longer a joke, it makes someone upset. No one enjoys a negative nickname however endearing and loving it may be. Every word we click on our keyboard leaves a thumb impression on someone’s soul. None of us actually have the right to act funny with someone’s self-esteem…make them feel worthless. But how do we draw a line between humor and insult? It is not rocket science at all…follow a few simple steps.
Step 1: After you type any comment (humorous or otherwise) before pounding on entering…take a step back.
Step 2: Click open a checkbox in your head and ask yourself ‘Is my comment going to upset the receiver? Would I like to be addressed the same way?
Step 3: THINK…..THINK….THINK
Step 4: Take responsibility for your actions and post your comment only if you are sure about it.
We do have our freedom of expression, but not the freedom to abuse and bully others on the internet which the Indian Penal Code considers a punishable offense.
If you are a victim of virtual abuse, your escape route is ‘BLOCK and TALK’. Even if your closest friend upsets or insults you do not have to take it. Block the perpetrator and talk to someone you are comfortable with: a parent, a teacher, a friend, or your school counselor. If you find someone a victim of cyberbullying, lend him/her a patient ear, validate his/her feelings, make them feel comfortable and then seek help. Your patient ear can heal wounds way better than trying to fix things in a hurry.
Hence, we can safely wrap up our three-pronged approach to battle this silent pandemic as ‘think before you type’, ‘block and talk’, and ‘listen and validate’. Be a frontline warrior and promote ethical use of social media.
Let us make an effort to be the compassionate and empathetic friend who lends a helping hand and a patient ear. Not the sarcastic and mean one. Let us not be creatures of darkness but the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
-Priyanka Ghosh, High School English Teacher, Ekya School, JP Nagar
All of us have this desire to look cool and to be intelligent. We feel intelligence can be gathered through what we study and that’s the only way to gain intelligence. But in reality, intelligence is the ability to think on your feet, the ability to keep growing and to continue to be curious and alert. The key is in our mindset.
There are two kinds of mind-sets –
Fixed Mindset – where intelligence is static and
Growth Mindset – where intelligence is developing and learning continuously.
A fixed mindset leads to a desire to look smart and hence we unconsciously become rigid in our ways. We try and stick to the known path, avoid challenges and when faced with any challenge we tend to give up easily.
We do not like to put in too much effort as we fear failure. This may lead to us being hard on ourselves and developing perfectionism as a coping mechanism. We are unable to take in negative feedback and easily feel threatened by others’ success.
A growth mindset on the other hand leads to a desire to keep learning and hence we tend to look at life as a learning process. We are not scared to face challenges as it only teaches us how to approach life better thereby increasing our persistence and we become more resilient.
We see effort as an ingredient to our success and hence we do not shy away from putting in the effort required. This also opens our minds towards criticism as we get a valuable lesson from this as well. We are also able to feel happy for others’ success as they become an inspiration to achieve more!
As we can see, with a Growth mindset we can reach greater heights and also gain a sense of greater free will…..
The choice is yours.
-Anushree C N, Counsellor
With bated breath, I was awaiting the fresh and vivacious day to bring some peace to my restless self. I felt a ripple of excitement at the thought of the very first day of my new school. I had only spoken to my classmates online for one year. The first day of offline school in an unknown place that I had never seen, was truly making me nervous and apprehensive.
My expectations from offline school were plenty. I was looking forward to a better learning experience, not just academically but socially as well. Online classes were really tiresome and not as productive as an offline class could be. Offline classes provided so many opportunities like lab classes, physical and co-curricular activities.
People usually are taken aback when they take a bite of the sandwich of reality but fortunately that was not the case with me. I must admit that my school measured up to my expectations and that the accolades that my friends had expressed regarding the school were completely real.
On my first day of school, we were taken to the science lab.I silently heaved and peered all around the place. Who would want to miss such a mesmerizing experience?
After the lab session, I was quite optimistic about the rest of the day. I was fervently waiting for the recess to break the ice and start a conversation with my new acquaintances.
The offline school was something that I was persistently looking forward to, but it’s well said: “the grass is greener on the other side”. Something similar happened to me. After attending classes in the comfort of my home I was so unaccustomed to moving around and donning the uniform along with an asphyxiating mask for long hours. To be honest I felt suffocated and throttled by that innocent-looking skirt.
Nevertheless, I got adjusted to it in a few hours and found myself enjoying coding in the computer lab. This lab was not as large as the science lab, however, it had an impressively large range of computers. The transparency of the glass panes allowed the luminous light to light up the whole room and it was oddly comforting. Though I faced a lot of problems in coding during online classes, offline classes made me a better coder. My teacher kept guiding me and eventually I too found myself engrossed in coding.
The day was definitely tiring but gave me such beautiful experiences which when revived made me feel eager and comfortable in my awesome new school. After all, who would want a tedious online class, when such a refreshing and fascinating offline class was an option?
-Prerana Moolchandani, Grade 9A, Ekya JP Nagar