Cyberbullying hits close to home

DOWNEY - It was an early Sunday morning on June 13, 2010, when I received an e-mail notification in my inbox saying that an anonymous user had posted a comment on my Formspring page. I decided to check it out and this was what I got: "I wish you were depressed again so you'd shut the [expletive] up."I remember being so frustrated, for a couple different reasons. First, someone had the gall to say something degrading and condescending to me (with an expletive included, at that). Second, someone did not have the nerve to say this to my face and third, someone had used a personal struggle against me and wished that I would break down again. I wasn't sure what to do, so I immediately brought this to the attention of a couple adults I trusted at school. The first person I notified was my then-history teacher and she told me to come early before school to discuss what had happened. Before I permanently shut down my account on Formspring, a "social networking" site where users can ask questions anonymously or with an account, I took a screenshot of the anonymous person's comment and showed it to my teacher, who then advised me to approach it calmly and not play the blame game on anyone. I told her I suspected at least two people were behind it, and she said if I wasn't sure whom it was it was best that I back off and forget that it had ever happened. To this day, I still can't forget what the anonymous person said on my page. What if someone else had seen that and realized something about me that they hadn't known before? Because of one stupid person's comment, another person in my scenario could have attempted or even committed suicide because of the embarrassment and grief. Thankfully I knew better than to let my emotions overwhelm me and decided it was in my best interest to delete the Formspring page to prevent any future nasty comments directed to me. One lesson I have learned from this experience is that people will always try to bring others down and will resort to malicious means to achieve this. Unfortunately, some teenagers have taken their lives to get away from the pain and suffering, from the cruelty others inflict on them because they're an "easy target." Luckily, after I deleted my Formspring and avoided other social networking sites, I didn't receive any more degrading or insulting comments. Still, I'm grateful to the anonymous person for targeting me instead of someone else, because I have him or her to thank for making me the strong person I am today. Jennifer Cho is a senior at Downey High School and interns with The Downey Patriot.

********** Published: October 21, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 27