In the past month, the Internet was ablaze with stories of celebrities receiving various hate comments or have had horrible things written about them (hugs to Taylor and Leslie). All it takes is for one individual to get the ball rolling and before you know it, person in question is put on a pedestal for a very open public shaming. The word for it is: cyberbullying. 

 

Taking a closer look at the local scene, we speak to Friends of Buro, Tengku Chanela Jamidah Ibrahim, Marion Caunter, Puteri Aishah, Tasha Shilla, Vanessa Tevi, Izara Aishah, and Cristina Suzanne Stockstill, who have all been subject to various forms of cyberbullying, to share their stories and help others out there know they're not alone.

 

TENGKU CHANELA JAMIDAH IBRAHIM

Her cyberbullying story

"I have been a target of cyberbullying on several occasions. One was a personal attack on the choices and decisions I have made in my life. It was quite horrific and I still remember some of the things that were said but I chose to stay silent because responding to such atrocious words would only mean that I was behaving in the same way as those people who wrote it. I always tell my friends that when someone does this to you, do not respond. Always be the bigger person in every situation. There's a reason why the person who wrote it feels the needs to hurt others in that way; and that reflects more on that person than it does on you. 

 

Another incident was when someone had taken a picture of me and posted on a satirical website's Facebook page with a caption that criticised people who wear the hijab. Not only did I not say those words but people were attacking me (or at least, the image of me) with really violent verbal attacks. Although my name was not written on the page, I felt unsafe, especially if someone had seen that picture and recognised me on the street. I was shaken by the whole incident and worried for my safety as well as my kids'—cyberbullying can really cause grief to an individual."

 

MARION CAUNTER

Her cyberbullying story

"People are always trying to put me and my family down on my social media, particularly on Instagram. When I first joined Instagram, they would attack me personally, especially about my marriage to my husband to try and tear us apart. They tried to attack my self worth, how I looked and dressed, and would always go on and on about how I'm a bad Muslim. When they realised they couldn't get to me, they then started attacking my poor, innocent children. Now, that is just pathetic.

 

Anyone can be a cyberbully and anyone can be a victim—there are no rules in the world of social media. You will see familiar names on Instagram that constantly attack all my pictures. They have fake accounts with fake pictures, but no followers or pictures of their own. They not only comment on my pictures but on pictures of other public figures too. I feel that they are obviously highly insecure people who are very unhappy with themselves and the world; and are also huge cowards who would rather hide behind their keyboards (or touch screens) and put others down to make themselves feel slightly better." 

 

PUTERI AISHAH

Her cyberbullying story

"There are people who enjoy bashing me online, telling me not to do this and that, and saying bad things about me. I used to feel really sad to read mean comments like "You're fat", "You're not that pretty", "You're not talented", and I have deleted those pictures and videos because of that—I did it because I didn't want people to say horrible things about me. I was unhappy but when I spoke to my friends about it and they told me to think positive, be strong, and above all, to be true to myself. I've since learnt to be positive and ignore negative comments because these people don't know the real me and I don't care to entertain them."

 

TASHA SHILA

Her cyberbullying story

"When someone posts messages that harrasses other people online, including uploading embarrassing pictures and videos just to humiliate them, that's cyberbullying. I have received a lot of mean and harsh comments from netizens about my appearance. One time, someone with a fake profile left inappropriate comments and shared a fake photo of me on social media so I had to lodge a police report. I still receive hateful comments on my looks and how I "will burn in hell" because of it." 

 

VANESSA TEVI

Her cyberbullying story

"It literally began the second I won the title of Miss Universe Malaysia 2015. I remember being absolutely busy—I was ushered to the press conference and then post pageant party right after the Gala Night. After being up for about 27 hours that day, I went back to my hotel room still in disbelief that I won the title that I had been working so hard for, and saw my phone buzzing with messages. Most of them were congratulatory but there were also a whole lot that said "Haters will be haters" and "Don't bother about them".

 

I didn't understand at that time, and when I asked my roommate about it, she told me it was best that I stayed away from social media for a couple of days to let things cool down because people were being mean. When I finally went online, I realised it was because I wasn't the 'fan favourite' to win that night. 

 

The cyberbullying went on for months. These so-called pageant fans even started a Facebook campaign to ask the organisation to 'dethrone' me. They made horrible pictures of me, called me names, and started hashtags like #DethroneVanessa. They began spreading rumours that I had won the crown because my parents paid for it, which was obviously untrue and absolutely infuriating because they were involving my family when they had nothing to do with it. I really had no idea why there was so much hate or what I had done wrong at that time. "

 

IZARA AISHAH

Her cyberbullying story

"I've had stalkers and also people spreading lies and making false accusations about me. The most extreme comment I have received is that I 'belong in hell' because I'm not wearing the hijab. Somehow it is more prevalent on Facebook, although I'm not sure why. It used to make me feel so angry and embarrassed—but then I decided to deal with it in the best way possible, to just ignore everything negative said about me. Life's too short for negativity." 

 

CRISTINA SUZANNE STOCKSTILL

Her cyberbullying story

"Unlike the traditional bullying, cyberbullying is the act of harming and harassing, including making false accusations via the digital sphere. I have received many hateful comments in the past but I chose not to acknowledge them. I'm very glad and thankful for the constant support of my wonderful family, circle of friends, and fans who are nice to me."

 

Photography: Chuan Looi/Yipieyaya

Photography assistants: TK Teo and Chee Wei

Hair: Juno Ko and Angeline Low

Make-up: Joey Yap

Styling: Cai Mei Khoo 

Styling assistants: Rachel Au and Tan Su Fen