Auntie SparkNotes: Stalker Steve's Cyber-Slime
In our opinion, this is one of the most upsetting letters Auntie's ever answered. —Sparkitors
There's a boy who likes me. We can call him Stalker Steve. We went out briefly at the beginning of the year, but I broke up with him quickly because, well, he's a stalker. After we broke up, he asked me out four times, three of which I gently expressed my lack of interest. The fourth time I forcefully told him that I was not interested, and asked him to please not ask me again. However, he still told his friends that we "never officially broke up", and that I was "playing hard to get". I heard a rumor that he was planning to ask me yet again, so I wrote to you for advice. This is where my new problem begins.
Just days after I sent my email asking for advice, Stalker Steve asked me out AGAIN. Again, I told him that I had moved on long ago and reminded him that I asked that he not ask me again, a request which he ignored. He tried convincing me that I was in love with him, until I finally got so frustrated that I shouted at him to leave me alone.
Stalker Steve is, by some glitch in the spacetime continuum, popular.
For weeks now, I've been putting up with his friends calling me rude names and harassing me. School is out, so the group of kids harassing me has been sending me text messages, leaving me voicemails, and writing on my facebook wall, continuing to say hurtful things to me. About an hour ago I recieved a text message from a girl saying that I am a little beotch who will do nothing with her life other than becoming a "porno slut", as she put it. Last week, my best friend, who is very insecure, called me and said that because everybody hates me, and because she couldn't handle it if people were to hate her too, she can no longer be my friend. Not only did she decide to stop being my friend, she joined the harassers, and told them every secret she knows about me; giving them dirt to further torture me with.
I've tried talking to adults I trust about the situation, and they all tell me the same thing. Ignore it, rise above it, don't let it get to you. I really can't handle this anymore and I've been becoming really depressed. My family says that they're worried about me, but when I ask them for help, they say that there's nothing they can do. My mom even told me that I'm being dramatic. Is she right? Should I just ignore what's going on? Please help me! I really don't know how to handle these people and I'm getting to my breaking point!
Oh. My. God.
Before Auntie tackles your problem, Sparkler, I've got a quick note for the internet general public.
Hey, Internet General Public! Do you recognize yourself in this letter? Are you harassing and bullying someone over Facebook, voicemail, text, or email? Are you spending your free time calling one of your peers a loser, bitch, or slut? Did you abandon your best friend and then spill all her secrets to her worst enemies?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then congratulations: You're an unredeemable douchebag with all the charm and humanity of a wet cat turd.
And also, KNOCK IT THE [UNPRINTABLE WORD] OFF.
This has been a Public Service Announcement from the Department of Stop Being a Butthead.
And as for you, Sparkler, I am so sorry that you're going through this... and even sorrier that your mom is dismissing your absolutely justifiable misery by telling you that you're just being dramatic. As anyone who's ever read anything about cyberbullying knows, this kind of multi-platform harassment is in a class of awfulness all its own—relentless, inescapable, and incredibly hard to stamp out. (And I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone just how horribly a situation like this can end.)
Unfortunately, there isn't any great solution. To a certain extent, you've just got to ride it out, spend your time with people who you can trust, and wait for Stalker Steve and the Cat Turd Brigade to wear themselves out and get over the terrible, unspeakable trauma of one of their group having been (gasp!) rejected by a girl. (More on this later.)
But that said, you've also got a couple of immediate options for dealing with this stuff as it happens. One in the "Fight" category, the other in "Flight."
Option 1: Fight. Obviously, fighting back against these trolls has its downsides—namely, the possibility of prolonging/escalating the conflict, not to mention that dirty feeling you get from interacting with human slime. But on the other hand, there is real satisfaction to be had in standing up for yourself, especially when your attackers are such worthless jerks. The important thing is to always, always operate from a position of grace and maturity. You don't want to stoop to their level, but that doesn't mean you can't launch a counterattack from your position of better-person-ness.
In practice, this means just one thing: The next time someone posts something nasty on your Facebook wall, respond with something like, "Are you really STILL this upset just because I wouldn't go out with Stalker Steve? It's been three weeks. It's getting pathetic. Let it go already."
And then, disengage. Don't respond to any further messages. Just zing 'em and leave. And hey, enjoy the pleasure of having gained the upper hand, because there's literally nothing they can say in response that won't make them look like complete a-holes. (Also fair game: Submitting their status messages to Lamebook.)
Option 2: Flight. This has its downsides too, in that nobody likes to look like they're running away from the meanies. But if you just want it to stop, then cutting off their means of reaching you will accomplish two things: giving you a break from the relentless pain of waking up to another nasty text or Facebook wall post, and giving them no outlet to harass you.
In practice, this means putting your privacy settings at the max, de-friending and blocking all the offenders, and (huge pain in the butt) changing your phone number. Make yourself inaccessible, and enjoy the beautiful sight of an inbox that contains messages only from people you want to hear from.
Of course, I can't guarantee that a truly devoted bully with way too much time on her hands won't still find some way to get in touch with you—which leads me to the final point. If this doesn't stop, you need to be prepared. Take screenshots of the harassment, keep records of the messages sent to you, record who's contacted you and how, so that you'll be able to show your school administrators what's been happening.
And not to be an alarmist, but between his over-the-top attempts to woo you and his unbelievably overblown reaction to a simple rejection, Stalker Steve sounds more like Seriously Unhinged Steve. Be careful, and let us know what happens. We're rooting for you!
Does cyberbullying make you froth with rage? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.