It takes a different kind of courage to stand tall in the face of malicious, targeted and constant criticism, and not many can claim to have it. Cyber bullying and web trolling has claimed several victims, be it through suicides or through self esteem and depression issues that last a lifetime. Internet use has brought with it a new set of problems. While most of us from the ‘library over Internet, and coffee dates over online chatting’ generation consider bullying, physical and verbal abuse and violence as very real ‘crimes’; today’s generation has a new set of terms to add to the lot – such as web trolling and cyber bullying! Web trolling is the act of ‘stirring up’ controversies by stalking someone’s Internet profile and leaving comments and memes of high shock value on the victim’s uploads and updates. Cyber bullying, on the other hand, involves harassing someone consistently and repeatedly by passing hostile, judgmental, horrid and sometimes even threatening messages on the victim’s social media activities. If these activities go unchecked, they too often go off the realms of jest or teasing, and enter the danger zone of ‘bullying’. Most at risk to these attacks are teenagers and young adults who are unable to handle such unexplained malice. Even celebrities have not been untouched by these crimes. Here are 10 such celebrities who have fallen prey to cyber bullying and web trolling.
Ciara is not one to take things lying down, and cyber bullies across the world now know of this. In an open letter to cyber bullies, Ciara made a very valid comment – that people have a lot of courage when they are anonymous and it is this false security of anonymity that starts the ‘who can say the nastiest comments’ game. After being consistently targeted on Twitter, via a female cyber bully, Ciara decided to turn around and give the perpetrator a taste of her own medicine. After blasting the lady for her own looks and the fact that she had some nerve having just one follower, Ciara rested her case with a clear statement ‘cyber bullying is not cool’.
9) Anna Gunn
Anna Gunn has faced some vitriolic cyber bullying for her portrayal of Skylar White in the series, Breaking Bad. In her five seasons for the hit show, Anna has faced varied attacks that ranged from name-calling, hateful comments (about her income and weight) and even personal attacks that go on her as a person, rather than her as a TV character. After reading a post that said ‘Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?’ Anna crossed over from astonishment to disbelief. She now takes all necessary steps to ensure her own safety since she fears that too many people out there are unable to make the distinction between an on screen fictional character and an off screen real person.
8) LeAnn Rimes
Singer LeAnn Rimes actually had to undergo a 30 day rehab stint to tackle the stress and anxiety that resulted from being cyber bullied. LeAnn claimed that a group of Twitter users (fans of the singer’s current husband’s ex wife) had been targeting her with vicious comments and innuendos. Rimes had accumulated a whole lot of these offensive tweets before she decided that going legal was the best way forward on this problem. Rimes even had an unofficially recorded conversation with one such bully to prove the ugliness that had been harassing her. The bully group it seems, had been following her whole meltdown and deriving their personal glee from her very obvious pain.
7) Caroline Flack
When the 32 years old X Factor co-host Caroline flack was dating 17 years old, One Direction’s Harry Styles (for just about 4 months), she had a barrage of hateful comments targeted at her on Twitter. She experienced constant harassment from Harry’s fans online and even after trying to get the trolls to leave her alone, one went ahead with sending her a threatening picture of herself holding a knife. This was obviously the last straw, after which Caroline went ahead and reported the abuse to the authorities.
6) Cheryl Cole
After publicly admitting that she has been bullied online, Cheryl Cole openly came out to call web trolls and bullies as ‘evil’ people. The English singer has been targeted in malicious abuse over Facebook and Twitter for over a year. The star claims that the comments were particularly brutal when they were criticizing her hair, looks and make up, not to mention, her weight. What got to her more than the comments was the fact that they were made very openly and publicly, without thought to who was reading them. Cheryl now stands up and voices out her opinion of cyber bullies more often and more openly, in order to help teenagers and young adults to know and deal with it if they ever have to.
After delivering a baby boy, singer Adele was expecting a lot of congratulations and well wishes, but what she’d never expected, were death threats and insults. As soon as the news of her baby broke out, Twitter trolls heightened their activity and made jokes about her weight, took pot shots about an impending post partum depression and even made death threats to the newborn. One particularly vicious troll (later identified as a Vanessa Bieber) wondered whether the baby was born fat and handicapped. She later tweeted “just murder it already lol”. Adele’s fans all around the world stood by her side and defended her through this and such troll accounts were later deleted.
New Zealand singer, Lorde (of the chart topper song ‘Royals’ fame) had been bogged down by her own fair share of cyber bully abuse last year. In an issue of the Rolling Stones magazine, the star has opened up about how Lorde and her boyfriend, James Lowe had been targeted in racist comments on Twitter. People were attacking the way they looked and their native origins too. Lorde maintained that she did not partake in any comments back and forth, as it would only feed the trolls, but the abuse did affect her. After all, she’s only human.
3) Melanie Griffith
If there’s a celebrity who’s managed to age gracefully, it’s Melanie Griffith. Yet, the actress, who is currently in her late 50s, has faced a lot of Twitter abuse over her looks. Hateful Twitter followers have bombarded her with hurtful tweets that range from bad to downright nasty. She told the US Weekly that most people are telling her that she looks horrible. Despite all the abuse, the star is secure in herself and continues with her workouts and hot yoga. She looks great for her age and for people who think she doesn’t, oh well, you’re entitled to your opinions, of course.
2) Ellen Page
Canadian actress of the Juno fame, Ellen Page didn’t just have to deal with nasty comments, but she’s also had to deal with death threats and very serious sounding, specific ones at that. The actress has received two threatening tweets and they have been just so scary that they have led to an LAPD investigation. While one tweet read as “I’m going to murder Ellen Page. She’s dead” another read “Ellen Page if you continue to date Alexander [Skarsgard] I will K-1-L-L you in public in the next year … Be it in a club, in a restaurant, or when you’re signing autographs (sic).” (Alexander Skarsgård was her costar in the movie The East.) While the Twitter accounts where both these tweets originated have long since been deleted, the investigation is still ongoing.
1) Charlotte Dawson
Most recently, Charlotte Dawson, former Australian model and TV personality, was found dead in her Sydney home in February 2014. The death is a clear case of suicide and it has brought cyber bullying, once again, under the scanner. Previously, the celebrity was hospitalized in 2012 for an attempted suicide, after a barrage of online abuse. Dawson had been open about cyber bullying since then and had been very vocal about her struggles with the depression that came from it. It seems, the more vocal she was, the more she was targeted. The trolls were ruthless in their abuse and death threats, and even went ahead with doling out advice on how she could kill or harm herself. All of these seemed to have taken a toll on the 47 year old and she finally gave up fighting. This is the saddest case of how far the game of web trolling and cyber bullying can go if not checked, stopped and stomped.