Celebrities battle with social media bullying……their children too!!

ObamaIt was a Monday night and 16 year old Malia Obama and some friends decided to go out to a restaurant. The paparazzi took pictures of her and her friends on that outing. “Nothing unusual about that”, most people would say. What was different about this is that the US First Lady’s office called the agency which was going to distribute the pictures and asked them to delete the pictures. It turns out that the Obamas had promises from various media outlets not to photograph their two girls when they were not in the presence of their father. The media houses obliged. Some people were not happy and they accused the first family of flexing their political muscles. Needless to say, this new article attracted both positive and negative comments. The one comment that caught my attention was the one that read in part, “……who wanted to see her ugly face anyway…..” At this point I realized that it was no longer about the reaction to the first family’s actions; it was just about being nasty to a 16 year old girl. Malia Obama is not alone in this. She is in the company of Blue Ivy Carter, Suri Cruise, Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, North West and a host of other celebrity children. This type of cyber bullying will be on permanent record on the internet. It is sad to note that one day these children are going to read the hurtful things that were written about them by complete strangers. NBI agrees with Katherine Jenkins in saying, “Children should be able to live a life free from bullying and harassment and it is time that we all took a stand against this.” In answer to the question posted on Yahoo Answers, “Do you think it is a form of bullying when a celebrity gets constantly made fun of in the media and called names online?”, one response was, “Of course not. Bullying takes place against those who are alone and cannot fight back. Celebrities are handsomely paid willing targets with many defenders”. Nothing could be further from the truth. This type of behaviour commonly known as celebrity bashing is a form of bullying regardless of the individual’s wealth, fame and status. Facebook’s marketing director, Ms Randi Zuckerberg, pointed out that anonymity is the primary cause of cyber bullying. A study by Georgia State University also acknowledged that anonymity is a contributor to cyber bullying and also added that the primary cause is a phenomenon known as the “online disinhibition effect”. This is when the perpetrators are physically and emotionally removed from their victims such that they do not experience the impact of their actions. People tend to be quite outraged if somebody in their community is a victim of bullying. When it comes to cyber bullying involving celebrities and their families, there is a tendency to normalise the behaviours. There have been arguments that celebrities should expect that sort of treatment since they are in the public eye. However, fame doesn’t make anyone fair game for anyone to bullying someone via social media. The following, posed by Lena Xiao in an article published on www.sociologyofstyle.com sums it all up: Imagine reading judgement of you from strangers by the tens and hundreds every time you see your name somewhere on line. Imagine being helpless in clarifying misconceptions and unable to defend yourself. Imagine knowing that all your friends and family can see these comments too. And then having to pretend none of it gets to you at all …..

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