This week, in Things That Make You Want To Quit The Internet: A sickeningly sex-centric Twitter called @iLikeGirlsDaily randomly started tweeting pictures tagged #10minsofArianaGrande. What followed was a Twitter-pic blitz of the 20-year-old pop starlet – some, past press shots; others, very vulgar and clearly photoshopped pics of the starlet, almost naked and entirely NSFW.
It’s no news that celebrities like Ariana are easy targets for cyberbullying. We’ve seen a zillion Disney boppers and chart toppers undergo the nastiest Twitter-hate hailstorms, handling them with PR-preened grace (or, if we’re lucky, totally regular-human rage). But because the internet is available to everyone – pleasant citizens and hate-filled garbage-people alike – teens face this sort of relentless cyber-bashing, too, and without the team of paid supporters or legions of adoring fans.
How can we equip teens to handle these same crises like a pro? Here are some ways your teens could learn to take Twitter hate gracefully, like Grande:
Encourage teens to take the still-happy, can’t-phase-me route: American Horror Story: Coven star Gabourey Sidibe shut down the Twitter-comeback game after this year’s Golden Globes. Sidibe later tweeted, “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK” Yes. Humility is lovely, but it’s important to remind bullied teens: Nothing deflates a hater more than seeing their victim continuing to be awesome (and, also, hilarious).
Last May, singer Katy Perry tweeted her thoughts on a song she heard on the radio. The song’s artist, rapper Chief Keef, railed her (quite vulgarly) in response. With almost 50 million followers watching, Katy Perry bounces back perfectly:
“Mr. Keef! I’m sorry if I offended you. … I’m a fan of your ‘Don’t Like’ video tbh. I was really just having a general opinion… Believe me, I’m a lover not a hater.”
Katy didn’t get mad, get even or even get all that ruffled – she politely apologized, offered a compliment, and cleared the air. Though slightly difficult for young people, coaching them into this sort of graceful patience can extinguish heated haters pretty quickly.
Taking another page from the Ariana Cyberbully Playbook: Sometimes the best response is no response. Regarding her Twitter haters, Ariana recently shared with Cosmopolitan magazine: “Oh, they’re evil as hell! I don’t even block them anymore, because I feel like it’s giving them negativity in return. So I just let it happen and forgive them and move on. Those people are fighting their own battles.”
Amongst all dealing-with-bullies techniques, perhaps the most important to teach our teens is that all bullies are struggling with things that likely have nothing to do with the victim – they’re lashing out in response to their own issues. Bullying gets dangerous when teens start to believe the abuse, internalizing hurtful statements and blaming themselves. If we can get our teens to understand that they can remove themselves from the cycle of negativity, they’ll feel more in control and better equipped to deal in a healthy way.