Hi Danielle - great to be talking to you! First things first, can you tell us about how you got involved with the CyberSmile Foundation?
Hi! Well, I followed them ages ago on twitter, as I’ve always been a supported of the whole anti cyberbullying thing, having experienced it myself. Then someone from the Foundation contacted me through twitter and just asked if I’d want to get involved. Obviously I was so up for that as I really want to do as much as I can - it’s such a big problem that I think a lot of people don’t really pay that much attention to. But yes, so it went from there, and now my role’s got to ambassador status which I’m really happy about.
Amazing. So tell us a bit more about your role - what will you be doing with CyberSmile?
We’ve had some chats already – Stop cyberbullying day is on June 21st, so we’re discussing different ways we can raise awareness for that, like a twitter silence to actually show how many people are against cyberbullying, and things like that. There’s various ways I’m getting involved, but basically my role is to get the word out there that cyberbullying is not OK as much as possible!
You mentioned that you’ve been a victim of cyberbullying – you even received death threats on twitter didn’t you? Tell us a bit more about how you coped with that…
I think you kind of… I’ve learnt now to ignore it completely, but at first it was really, really hard. I’ve had messages from people telling me to 'go die' and saying things like 'I hope you get cancer'. Whether they’re trying to be funny or trying to get my attention it’s disgusting - you don’t say that to your worst enemy, it’s unthinkable.
What do you think makes people send such hateful – and hurtful – messages?
I feel like a lot of people say it to get attention - they want me to reply and they can say ‘Oh amazing I’ve been tweeted by Danielle’ or whoever it’s to - or a lot of the time they actually do say ‘I’m only joking’, if someone tweets them back - ‘I was only joking I didn’t mean it’. What they don’t realise is that they’re actually cyberbullying and it’s too late. I think it’s a mixture of jealousy and an insecurity within themselves, but to be honest I can’t think of an excuse for them because I just don’t think it’s justifiable in any way.
Did the online abuse you recieved affect your life in a big way?
Like I said, I’ve learnt to ignore it now, and I think that’s the one piece of advice I would give to anyone that feels as though they are being cyberbullied - you have to use all your power to ignore it. I’ve never been a massive fan of confrontation anyway, so it’s quite easy for me to be like ‘Ok whatever’, and I think if you just realise it’s a jealousy thing or an insecurity within the bully, you’re in a better position. You don’t need to lower yourself to those bullies.
Did the abuse ever make you want to just quit twitter all together?
I think it can have that affect on people, definitely. If you’re already feeling a little bit down or a little bit low… I personally haven’t felt the need to do that, but it can really affect people. I mean it happens so often, 1 in 3 teens are actually being cyberbullied, which a lot of people don’t realise. It happens so much and it does affect a lot of people and they think, ‘I can’t deal with this anymore, I don’t want to be on the internet’ - which is a shame because the internet isn’t all bad, there’s so much you can learn from and use.
You must get a lot of nice messages too though?
Oh absolutely. I have to stress that 99% of the messages I get are so lovely, and I’m so grateful for that - but it’s always that 1 who says ‘go die’, and you’re like, ‘What have I done to you that makes you feel like that’s okay to say to me?' Like, 'sorry, I’m just going about my day and you’re telling me to go and die?' It’s not cool.
What would you say to people who are cyberbullies – the ones who send hurtful messages?
Find something better to do with your time. Tweet your friends or tweet celebrities or, if you really don’t like these people, why are you wasting your time in tweeting them? Put your time to better use. Also, think about what you’re saying - because your words can have an effect on people. There’s a person reading that, it’s not just there, there’s someone on the other end of that tweet reading it and you are aiming your horrible tweets at that person.
So how can people support Stop Cyberbullying day?
You can follow Cybersmile on twitter (@CybersmileHQ), we’re always tweeting about ways to get involved, and there’s also the website, which is all on the twitter page. You can get involved whether you’re being cyberbullied or not too - you don’t have to have had the experience of being bullied to take part in it. Hopefully it’ll make a big difference and people will realise the scale of how many are people are being cyberbullied and want to stand up against it.
Thanks Danielle - keep up the good work!