When reality becomes too much to bear for the ill-treated, the internet seems like it’s the best place to vent or escape to.
This might have been true back when social media was still in its early days and Facebook was just a platform that allowed you to connect with people. But now, connecting with people isn’t the only thing that happens on social media.
We all know that bullying is a widespread issue that has infiltrated the web in the form of cyber bullying, and it appears that there’s really no stopping this awful global trend any time soon.
Let’s look at the recent story of the nine year-old Aboriginal Australian boy with Dwarfism, Quaden Bayles.
When the video of Quaden crying in the backseat of a car and being suicidal because of the bullying he had faced that day went viral on social media, an outpour of heart-warming support from netizens and celebrities followed in hopes of cheering him up.
This support came in the form of tweets from other children and celebrities like Hugh Jackman delivering special messages for Quaden.
I showed my son Nick, who is 10, your video. He heads the anti-bully coalition in his class (which he created). Please DM me and Nick would love to chat, become pen pals, play games online, or even take Quaden to a @AZCardinals game with us! All the best ❤️ pic.twitter.com/wwpwCvbUwT
— Ryan Pilgrim (@RhinoStealth) February 20, 2020
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) February 20, 2020
However, these tweets quickly turned into posts of conspiracy theories saying that the video was just an act and that Quaden is actually an 18 year-old actor.
According to a deep dive Insider did into the matter, Quaden is, in fact, only nine years old. There is no evidence that the primary school student is only pretending despite the circulation of photos showing him posing beside the number 18 at a birthday party.
The original video of Quaden was posted by his mom Yarraka Bayles to show the world the hurtful and life-ruining effects of bullying. Sadly, while the intention behind the video resonated with many, it seems as though it has also compromised the online privacy of Quaden and placed him under greater harassment.
This has led to the taking down of the video along with Quaden’s social media accounts. Yarraka’s personal Facebook account, which has been set to private, is the only one left.
Quaden is only one out of millions of children around the world who experience some type of bullying. And there are two important things we can learn from his story that we can apply in our own efforts to end bullying once and for all.
First, it’s that reaching out to a child or anyone being bullied and finding the right group of people they can connect with could be a proactive approach schools and other institutions can put into practice to combat bullying in schools, as shown in the tweets that were posted in response to Quaden’s video.
Second is that, while posting on social media can be an effective way to raise awareness about a subject such as bullying, it may not be the best platform to use, considering that you never know where the internet and its netizens are going to take your story, as exhibited in the polarized responses Quaden’s video and story received.
Seeking professional help is still the best solution and using prudence before posting anything on social media is key. Because while there are things that definitely went right when people got to see a nine year-old’s struggles with bullying, we are also reminded that the internet is not what it used to be.