A prominent victim of cyberbullying said bullying can have long-term effects on the person involved.
In an interview with DailyPedia, lawyer Christopher Lao said the pain and trauma he suffered as a result of the vicious cyberbullying he experienced continues to affect him until now.
“It made me sick and it broke me. I suffered from depression and to this day require various drugs for normal functioning and integration. Then I had to deal with a broken spirit,” Lao shared.
“This was a Gordian knot (an extremely difficult problem). I had to relearn the basics so life would once more become appealing to me. I had to be a child again, able to stay in the moment and be preoccupied by curiosity,” he added.
Feeling helpless because he’s unable to defend himself, Lao fell into alcohol abuse and depression that resulted in seeing a shrink who prescribed medicines for him.
In August 2011, when he was still reviewing for the Bar, Lao became the target of an online ire after a TV news report showed him blaming other people when he drove his car into a flooded street.
Netizens ganged up on him for his infamous on-cam outburst, “I was not informed! I should have been informed!”
Many netizens mocked and insulted him, to the point his name became one of Twitter’s local trending topics.
Lao, who now teaches at the University of the Philippines College of Law and De La Salle University College of Law, said his perspective changed after the incident.
The lawyer said he detached himself from material comforts and stopped giving excessive value to his reputation.
“I learned not to value reputation or others’ regard for you. You only need to listen to those who really matter. The only affirmation we need is our very own,” Lao noted.
“I also learned that reputation follows skills. So long as you have the skills, you will always make it and can always start fresh if reputation is taken from you, which in this day and age can happen in an instant,” he added.
Lao further revealed that storms and floods frighten him now because “public works and service in this country leave much to be desired.”
According to Lao, being bullied by a lot of people makes cyberbullying worse than physical bullying.
“We appreciate it on a case-by-case basis. Be that as it may, in cyberspace, there may be more involved,” he said.
“This distinguishing feature is what makes it more lethal so to speak,” he added.
He admitted that every time he hears the word “cyberbullying” now, he “immediately think of ways, particularly legal, to counter the same.”
But when asked if he believes a person must really be punished for cyberbullying, he simply said, “it’s a policy question.”
“Let’s defer to the political forums for that since they have research and data for sound policymaking,” he noted.
Lao said he was more concerned with “preventing” online bullying.
“What I am more concerned with is prevention,” he stressed.
“This social function is within the other social tools to discharge — education, homes, churches, communities, other organizations,” he added.
His advice to other cyberbullying victims was to “choose your battles.”
“Some are not worth it. Fight and resist those that already affect you, your health, loved ones, work,” Lao noted.
“No one will be bullied if there are no bullies. We never blame the victim,” he added.