The Internet has become a prime place for bullies.
Bullies are pathetic enough in person. But online, it's even worse, because the ability to hide behind a screen name and not have to identify themselves makes bullies even more cruel.
Being a journalist, I have come face-to-face, or more like "screen-to-screen," with these internet bullies who comment on stories, telling fellow reporters or myself that we deserve to be fired or making fun of the people we report about.
One woman decided to take a stand against those who make fun of her online. And she has gained national attention for it.
Lindsay Bottos, 21, receives cruel anonymous comments on her Tumblr account on a daily basis about her looks, artwork and personal life. So she decided to post a series of images on her blog of these comments on her self-portraits, which has already been blogged more than 100,000 times.
Lindsay, a senior at the Maryland Institute College of Art, explained why she decided to start the project, "I get tons of anonymous messages like this every day and while this isn’t unique to women, the content of the messages and the frequency in which I get them are definitely related to my gender. I almost exclusively get them after I post selfies. The authority people feel they have to share their opinion on my appearance is something myself and many other girls online deal with daily."
Looking at her blog, I see a beautiful and talented woman. But it seems like people are judging her because she does not feel the need to conform to social norms. Which I say — good for her!
In order to focus on a woman's natural beauty, she has chosen not to wear make-up or remove body hair.
Lindsay used to suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness characterized by having an excessive concern with body image and preoccupation with a perceived defect of physical appearance. Which I feel like, with the constant obsession in the media of how women look, this is very common.
And so Bottos decided to embrace her natural beauty, without all the products advertised only to women to modify the way they look. Her decision showed even more how society is brainwashed because she was completely chastised for her decision.
One of the comments she received was, "Oh wow you dont shave your so revolutionary and unique grow the (expletive) up."
This broke my heart to hear that someone was treated that way. If it were me, I would probably go hide and think they were right about me. But not Lindsay! She stood up herself. And I think she is so brave for that!
If you are a victim of cyber bullying, know that you don't deserve it. There are some people in this world who find a sick joy by causing other people pain. That does not mean anything they say about you is true in the least.
For Lindsay, she received so much praise for her project. Much more positive feedback than the criticism she received. And I'm hoping the kind words are what she focuses on when she looks at herself in the mirror and not the cruel words.
Lindsay has taught me that we need to not be afraid to stick up for ourselves. I feel like the more people who stand up against bullies, the more likely cyber bullying will stop.
Also, these anonymous bullies could be breaking state or even federal bullying laws for what they are saying about Lindsay. What I would like to say to these bullies is, even if you don't have a heart or care how your words affect others, maybe the fact that you could be prosecuted will stop you from spreading these vicious words across the Internet.