Digital Bullies

Musicians have taken this opportunity to offer live content as a response to not being able to perform in venues. But this comes with an added audience that aims to disturb the performance and the performer. We’ll analyse a real example of a live streaming concert where digital bullies took a leading role and try to understand why they target female artists the most, and most importantly, how to deal with them.

Digital bullies & Trolls

It’s no news that certain users take advantage of the anonymity that social media offers to criticise, attack and target hostility towards public figures and other users. 

Like many other artists, Li3a took her performances online. Her initial success brought up to 80k unique viewers and as of September 2020, she’s attracted 190k+ unique viewers per session (close to 1M unique viewers in total). These numbers sound great for an artist building her career but this also brought a negative side: trolls.

All a troll wants is to inflict pain, ridicule, and humiliate a targeted person. It’s became a regular practice for a selected group of these users to join her performances and verbally attack her as well as those users that come forward to protect LI3a’s wellbeing.

Trolls don’t just take pleasure from insulting users, take pride in teaming up with other trolls and ignore the potential psychological harm they cause.

Digital Bullies Comment
Real comment as a response to a thread of insults during a live streaming session

Is it targeted to women?

They’re like schoolyard bullies. They seek out people they think are weaker than themselves.

Presenting yourself to the public (whether as part of a performance, a speech…) can make you vulnerable. Trolls take advantage of that.

Of course there are men who are also victims of targeted abuse online but digital bullies do it worse to women. “They’re looking for someone who’s more submissive and maybe they feel deserves to be degraded in some way. I think a lot of them have problems with women.

“These comments make me feel very sad for what our society has become. I feel discouraged from performing online. As many benefits that internet brought to our lives – it also gave the voice to people that feed their ego by bringing others down. Never thought I’d say this but I feel more safe performing in a venue than from my own living room, ” – Li3a

There’s a brighter side

There is another side to this picture. There are users that take a proactive approach to protect the artist against trolls. Nevertheless, they also become discouraged when too many of them get together and team up to attack them too. 

Digital Bullies Counter argument
Digital Bullies Positive

So… How do you deal with them?

Should digital bullies be banned completely? At first, we started questioning this from a philosophical point of view.

Is there light without darkness? Can we appreciate fries without salad? What is yin without yang?

However, this issue is a bit simpler than that. Criticism is something we all have to face in our lives and and musicians (creatives in general) get more negativity than positivity throughout their professional path. That’s something we cannot avoid. But social media platforms, live streaming networks and other online sites designed to expose someone’s talent should offer bigger support for those users that offer valuable and engaging content.

Although these might sound basic solutions, here are some useful ways to deal with trolls:

  1. Ignore them
  2. Avoid getting into a written exchange
  3. Build a supportive community of users 
  4. Don’t take it personally
This last one might sound difficult (especially if someone is directly insulting you). It’s important to remember that trolls have big and unresolved issues and they exploit their anonymity to harm others so they cannot be hurt back.
Surround yourself with friendly users and focus on building relationships with those that support your work.