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Chrissy Teigen Proves Just How Harmful Adult Bullying Is

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Chrissy Teigen has been trending for quite a while now – but not for the best of reasons.  She has a history of attacking individuals online particularly through Twitter, and being called out for her bullying has caused a lot of people to consider her “cancelled” (which is a problem all on its own in our digital age – but that is another story).

Well, it appears that Chrissy has had quite a lot of time to think, because she published a lengthy, heartfelt apology addressing her abusive tweets with the note that she has already apologized personally to one person, and intends to continue apologizing to all of those of whom she bullied, if they are willing to listen.

As someone who has been both bullied in person and online (but mostly online) in the past, and pretty recently, actually, I have mixed feelings about Chrissy’s apology.  While I appreciate that she has identified that her actions were wrong and has already started issuing personal apologies, I wonder if she wasn’t in the spotlight would she have done the same thing?  Did she feel pressured because her reputation was on the line, or was she genuinely aware of how damaging her actions were?

Adult bullying is a huge problem, but it is something that we don’t often acknowledge or talk about.  Heck, we have just recently started to really address bullying with children and adolescents, and there is still so much more that can be done in that arena.  Internet bullying is so real, and it is absolutely not OK.  When people are put behind the screen, they tend not to see other comments or individuals on the internet as real humans, and they often say things that they might not say face to face.  “Trolling” is an issue that is often not taken seriously, but it is a phenomenon that has led to deep seated issues with depression, self-esteem and anxiety.  So many individuals have experienced this quietly due to online bullying, and many cases have occurred where individuals begin to have suicidal ideation or self-harm impulses.

Any level of online bullying is not OK, and you have a right to feel however you feel when faced with bullying online; even if the other person claims they were “joking,” or other people claim that you are just being “trolled” and that you shouldn’t worry about it.  There is no excuse for anyone treating another person poorly on the online platform, and we all need to remember that there is a real person on the other side of that screen.  We should treat others with care and empathy, even if we disagree with them or come into some form of conflict with them.

However, Chrissy’s apology does also remind us that we need to remember that we are all only human, and that we should never be judged solely on our worst days.  If someone is sincerely regretful of their actions online and issues an apology, we don’t have to accept them into our lives, but we should consider that they recognize the ill of their actions, empathize with them, and try to move forward on a positive note.  Some of my most detrimental online bullying experiences have happened this way, and I have found peace in finding some resolve for my pain.

With that being said, adult online bullying is a very real thing that can be extremely harmful to your mental health, and you shouldn’t have to suffer alone.  However you are feeling is valid, and you deserve to be heard.

Here are some ideas as to how you can handle any bullying you are experiencing online:

1. Reach out 

The first idea is to reach out to someone you trust about what you are going through.  If nothing else, this will allow you to vent your feelings and hopefully find someone who can empathize with you.  This can also mean reaching out to a trusted professional if you are experiencing mental health issues such as suicidal ideation, self-harm impulses, depression, etc.  The more support you have, the less isolation you will feel when experiencing bullying online.

2. Walk away

Sometimes it can be particularly difficult not to want to comment back with hateful words when you are experiencing bullying online, but this can lead to further conflict and additional hurt.  If you are experiencing online bullying, take a deep breath, walk away from your device and talk through your feelings with someone you trust, or journal about them if that feels safer for you.

3. Report

On many platforms it is possible to report comments and/or users who are being abusive.  Look into whatever platform you are experiencing bullying on and see if there is a “report” button, or a way to contact customer support.  Doing so will help to ensure that no other users are harmed by a particular individual or individuals, while increasing your sense of safety and satisfaction. Chrissy Teigen’s actions put adult online bullying into the spotlight, and while she has caused harm to others, her apology reminds us that we are all only human and that we are all in this life together.

Bullying is never OK, even with adults, and the more we realize how our actions affect others (especially online) the more peace and compassion we can create in this world.  We all just need to acknowledge that adult bullying exists, take appropriate measures to call it out, and provide support for those who are affected.

Lead image via. Chrissy Teigen’s apology on Medium.

Originally published: June 16, 2021
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