Exposing a cyber bully online

Recently I watched Tomorrowland on Netflix, and the parable of two wolves stuck with me, it seemed very insightful and was a key concept for the movie.

My knowledge of this concept however was severely tested recently. In November 2016 in a Facebook neighbourhood community group, I encountered some very aggressive and rude behaviour after making 1 comment on a post to save a park. Calling me a ‘hater, mrs. Racist, Look… Hillary lost… being supreme to others… being a bitch… ” and so on. Any attempt at trying to communicate with Mr. X resulted in a barrage of insults. I was successful in not resorting to insults myself to vent my frustration at being unfairly accused of things, but of course it was a very frustrating and confusing incident.

The next day I found a private Facebook message from Mr. X that showed he scrolled through my Facebook profile, collecting information about who I was, and continuing to rant and rave, raining down further insults.

I was furious about the invasion to my privacy and concerned about whether Mr. X’s friends were of a similar nature. This incident happened in the same month that Donald Trump was elected, and all the media news reporting incidents of aggression of his supporters. Even though I was not against Donald Trump being elected, however since I grew up in a country where one national leader could wreck decades of havoc against the country, in particular people not of the preferred race, which included me, in the back of my mind, I guess I had some fear that I would have to lose my home again. Not to mention this incident happened the week after racists flyers were distributed to neighbourhoods in Richmond to call on ‘Whitey’ to save the city from Chinese people.

After realizing the admin was not currently taking action against Mr. X’s post in the Facebook neighbourhood group, when Mr. X posted targeting seniors he would help them with yard work, I was concerned, and commented in his posts that he seemed a little rude, and linked to the original post where I had interactions with Mr. X. Mr. X then proceeded to track me down at work, calling my company phone, and wanting to speak to me. I realized who he was and did not want to bother work with this situation. He swore at the receptionist, threatening “consequences” 5 times. This made me concerned about my personal safety, especially that he knew the address of where I was working at, and imagining he might visit me before and after work. Since he seemed to get so easily angry, I was not sure of how he would react in person.

The consequences turned out to be bad Facebook reviews, which was a relief from a personal safety note, but I felt responsible and sorry that he targeted a previous company that I was not currently working at. It was an ingenious strategy because reviews are quite difficult to remove.

I was encouraged to call the police for my personal safety, however over time I discovered that the police were unable to do anything much. In researching Mr. X I realized he had been going on a bit of a spree since September of harassing women online in particular using similar words calling them racist, cyberbullies, social justice warriors, etc. He seemed a bit fixated on Ms. Y. I contacted a few of his targets to find out how far he went, whether I needed to change my in real life habits to avoid danger. My boyfriend was also concerned, and started escorting me back from work every day.  His modus operandi seemed similar; he would call women names online, and then he might call them at work, etc. With Ms. Y, after 3 months of harassment, her online profile went to non-existent, she had to turn off all her social media profiles, and make herself completely private and non-existent. I later discovered she also changed her in real life habits, because she was not aware of what Mr. X was capable of. The bad reviews where he made false claims against Ms. Y, her family, her friends in reviews on company pages, university pages continued to remain for the whole world to see, with limited ability for the companies to take these reviews down.

Over my Christmas/New Years break I noticed Mr. X seemed to have found a new woman to bully. It did not sit right with me that he was not stopping, and that the police can do nothing. So I decided to make a blog detailing all that I knew about Mr. X. His business information, his personal profile, each public interaction with different people that he appeared to have bullied. My hope was his next victim might have an easier time to get an understanding of things, and have someone to talk to if they needed.

What I didn’t realize was that my actions while born of a desire to make right what I saw as wrong, made me go into attack mode, not realizing that Mr. X might himself be in attack mode of the world around him because of injustices that might have been perpetrated on him. I’m not saying I excuse his behaviour, but I’m saying when we attack others because we feel like defending ourselves, we are no different than an attacker that is doing the very same thing. I myself took on the characteristics of a cyber bully by trying to defend myself and others against Mr. X.

It turns out that Mr. X had a series of personal tragedies that caused him to treat others in an irreverent manner, and for the slightest misunderstanding he would attack with a ferocious efficiency all that were around him.

He explained that besides family tragedies that were happening, the reason he continued to hound Ms. Y was because he blamed her for his ex-girlfriend committing suicide 10 days after Ms. Y’s friends seemed to cyber-stalk his profiles, and he had setup a GoFundMe page for his ex-girlfriend. I suggested that Ms. Y was not directly responsible for that, she did not encourage her friends to act irresponsibly and rashly. We decided to have a cease-fire, and he and I removed our potentially damaging posts about the other. Mr. X also decided to remove his posts about Ms. Y.

At this point because of the age of the internet, Mr. X’s profiles in the police, in the banking community might have all been damaged, potentially causing him to miss his ex-girlfriend’s burial by 3 hours. After some digging through Mr. X’s online profiles, I discovered he was a Martin Luther King supporter in the past. Which did not make sense with my assumption that he was a white supremacist.

It is really alarming to see how through the age of the internet, when we let our ferocious beast come out, the damage is multiplied in all directions. I too as well am at fault for this. I hope that we can all learn to be a bit more forgiving and understanding of each other even if the other person may seem evil and attacking. This doesn’t mean seeing nice in everyone and everything, even for example Hitler who might be gassing your baby sister, but maybe trying to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, understanding we all are a bit racist, we all have our bad days, and trying not to escalate the battle unless you are absolutely sure. If you do decide to battle, maybe don’t take out the Hiroshima bombs to combat 1 person. Try to do as the Cherokee elder suggested, “He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.”

Resources

A friend Little Woo recently posted a video that I thought was very appropriate, as to how I could have better handled this incident with more compassion.

Leave a Reply