Tuesday, October 22, 2013

When I was Cyberbullied

So I'm not sure if many of you know, but I was under fire recently for writing a very controversial blog post where I accused Shahrukh Khan on plagiarizing from J.K. Rowling's speech. What started off as an innocuous blog post to simply point out similarities on two highly acclaimed speeches turned out to be a massive hate campaign where I was heavily cyberbullied.

I didn't expect the story to go viral the way it did. I thought a few friends would read it, and simply say, "Well, that's a shame." But more than that just happened. People were sharing it all across Facebook and Twitter and the social media space was abuzz with it, and I thought that I didn't write anything wrong. The media soon picked it up, and I still thought that there was nothing wrong with what I wrote. People were just sending me random messages on how irrelevant the post was, or that I was a Shahrukh hater and I couldn't care less. If I really did hate him, I wouldn't be stupid enough to post a blog with my identity out there. I would have written an anonymous post and written whatever the hell I felt like about him. But I didn't.

Then came a blog post from Shahrukh Khan's representative that seemed to give wings to the desperate Shahrukh fans who really couldn't figure out a way to defend their idol. Instead of logically arguing with me on Twitter, I had fans who splashed that link all across Twitter while spewing all kinds of inappropriate words at me.

At first, I tried  to not let it bother me. I simply ignored the comments on the blog post, hate tweets and Facebook messages. But within an hour of that post being out there, I lost count of how many messages were actually coming my way that attacked me for not just being a woman, but on my looks, my age, my other blog posts, my education, my body type, my skin tone, and the quintessential accuse of 'wanting my 15 minutes of fame' (famously instigated by the Chief Digital Strategist herself).

I couldn't for the life of me believe the magnitude of hate and threats I received for writing a post on a PERSONAL blog wherein I was allowed to express my opinion. I reported several users, and I later found that many took down their  tweets as they realized that the media was also scrutinizing the backlash I received. I found a couple of the kinder tweets though:




I could only take in so much, and after a point, I ended up having a nervous breakdown. I have never been subjected to hate in such a heinous manner before and somehow, I couldn't cope with this kind of bullying. I apparently wasn't strong as I thought it was, and I was suddenly filled with fear.

Someone created a fake email ID under my name and sent out inappropriate mails to people (don't ask me HOW they did this, I'm still trying to figure this out, already reported this user to Google). I deactivated my Facebook account the moment someone sent me a message about my family member's workplace details. People were looking me up on the internet, waiting to get any iota of information to use against me. I received threats that were hurtful enough to not share here.

Sure, you might think they were empty threats, and I really had nothing to worry about. But did you forget about the episode where the two girls got arrested over an innocent Facebook status? I was paranoid. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat. I didn't leave my house for a good ten days, I'm not even kidding you. My face was everywhere, and it only took one crazy person to act in a deranged manner to do something if I was easily recognizable in public. I wouldn't rest until my family was back home in the evenings. I was checking up with my friends (whose pictures with me were on Facebook) whether they were alright. I asked friends who were rallying with me on social media channels to stop doing so in case they became victims of this callousness.

The last two weeks were honestly the most traumatic weeks I've undergone and I still can't believe how I was attacked by a plethora of fans for pointing out some basic facts against their idol. No one wanted to logically argue with me, but found it far simpler to attack a 24-year-old helpless blogger instead.

With social media today, it's so much easier to simply gang up on someone and traumatize them, without actually realizing what one is putting them through. I'm certain that none of those deranged fans who attacked me would have actually had an argument with me face-to-face defending their star, but found it convenient to sit behind a computer behind an anonymous identity and send hate messages instead.

Bullying's latest avatar is cyberbullying and it is even uglier than its previous form. It's mind numbingly easy to form groups and target people on the internet and bully them mercilessly. It's a collective effort, yes, effort, and that means actual work that these bullies put in to intentionally hurt the victims. This includes anything and everything from spamming the user's walls, creating fake email ID's, harassing the user online, gathering information about them and try to use it against them.

The experience was painful and harrowing but it was more depressing to learn that this is what free speech in this country means. It means that you cannot express an opinion that shows an actor/politician/cricketer/godman in poor light. It means that if you want to write about something that irks you in the society, you wouldn't be allowed to write it. It means that you need to keep your mouth shut about issues that need a voice. It means that if you lend your support to anything that is morally right but remotely controversial, you will be forced into silence.

I probably faced less than 1% of cyberbullying than most other victims around the world did. But that was bad enough for me. Enough for me to go into 'digital hiding'. Enough for me to stay locked inside my house. Enough for me to experience, for the first time, to fear for my life.

But I'm trying to put it behind me, and moving on. Still, I am cautious about where I go, what I do online and try to protect as much as information about myself that I can. This whole incident has been a huge learning experience, and I'm just trying to grow from it. To all of those people who supported me and stood by me through this ordeal, I just want to say a big thank you. That was a ray of hope that kept me together and I appreciate it immensely.

I just sincerely hope no one else here gets cyberbullied (or has physical action taken against them) for expressing a personal opinion ever again. Please think twice before sending out a hurtful message to anyone on the internet. It might seem completely innocent to you, but the victim experiences hell. You might not even realize that what you're doing actually constitutes cyberbullying.

No one deserves targeted hate. Bullying/Cyberbullying is NEVER okay. Period.









50 comments:

Enthralling Breeze said...

I am sorry you had to face this. It's unfair & brings out the worst in people. And the worst bit for us is that we will keep looking over our shoulder & writing won't be that easy for a while. We'll keep second guessing our words. It'll sort out. You're strong.

Bhavya Kaushik said...

This is such a shame. I can relate to it in so many levels!
Sigh :(

Shreya Sharma said...

Hey, what you went through is really sad..like i can't even think how bad traumatic it must be. I was in a difficult situation a few months back where in my personal profile was tried to be hacked. It started all because of miscommunication from my part. Lesson learnt was use social media through a dummy account and keep your personal life separate. Since that time am extremely cautious about my pics which go online if they are public. If you would have seen, most of the commentors or people who tried to threaten you were using fake accounts/dummy profiles. These are those who don't have an iota of ethics/morals in them. Am sorry to use the word bitches and bastards who want to sit at home and trouble other souls.
But please don't let this get to you. It happens with alot of people, we just don't talk about it as we are not sure who the person. I took an action in my case and lodged an FIR, though nothing has come out till now..but I did what was in my hand. Be Strong..God Bless!

RaVarma said...

This is utter crap. Sad state of affairs we live in. No one should be targeted like this. I hope things change soon and for the better. We Indians need to be much more tolerant. Anyway, keep blogging!

Mithraah Indiirh said...

I wish you had reached out to me... we would have taken that representative's case. We can still do that, if you have the email.

Sanchari Mukhopadhyay said...

People have no sense especially in India common sense is so uncommon..You have to get on with life & never be let down because of some worthless buggers.. I wish you all the very best & remember you are strong enough if you believe that you are. Take Care!

Sheeba fathima said...

shocking! didnt think ur blog will bring u so much pain...when i read your blog, I just thought its a good read... I feel for u... Be strong and don't stop speaking ur mind but protect ur private info online as much as possible.. these good for nothing people who consider actors more than God r really insane...

Roshan said...

Agratha, You must go on!! You must not feel emotional when cyber-bullying. Keep Blogging!! I salute you!!

Bobiya B. Thomas said...

Hi,

You did nothing wrong. It is a shame that people refuse to see other's perspective or logic to write a post in case it 'surprises' them and makes them think different. What I can say, don't stop or let this incident stop your writing. People who support might not count in thousands or million but I along with others above my post are here with you.



voice in the crowd said...

What!!!!!! Do people really have nothing better to do with their time?Good for you Agratha I can only imagine what you must have gone through! That actor should have taken a stand and put a stop to this rubbish that his 'fans' are supposedly capable of.

hema said...

This is disgusting beyond words. You'd expect a "superstar" to be secure in his fame and glory... evidently not. And as for his legions of fans, the less said the better. When in doubt, attack the person's personal appearance gender/ religion/ region/ profession. Sick bastards. Scumbags. I hope you recover from this. It's a big world out there. Don't let this shit stick. It'll pass. Stay safe. The sane people in the country will hopefully stand up for you.

Suresh said...

Take it from me, those who abuse are insecure 2 penny worms. They cannot do a s**t. Stand, Look into their eyes and ask them to "Bring it on" and it is a cinch, you will see them crawling back to the gutters where they belong.

Manali Kulkarni said...

Horrible.. People's mentality should change nothing else. Can't believe one blog post has turned like this, really pity! Do take care of your self.

garvam said...

I am a SRK fan and i have the right to say he is wrong.. if he is wrong. I have the right to say My name is Khan is the only movie where he tried to 'act'.
You have a right to speak your heart out. This is not a Taliban rule. I am following you now and be assured that that your supporters outweigh those idiots by a huge number.

waiting sujata said...

i wud hv sympathized with you lady, bt after reading this blog, it clearly seems you wanted that 15 min of fame, or else u wud not have written this blog. and surely u want attention again. and attention, you will get again,, dont worry..

Jana Weiss said...

If you are writing at an open Blog about a celebrity you have to expect reactions of the fans of his person. Some of the reaction were to extremly but did you thing nobody would write against this blog?

It´s doesn´t mather who the ceberity is, you could also choose Salman Khan, Justin Bieber or Berlusconi - the fans of them would give you contra. Your are shocked about the reaction against your family, but the abot them can very person find in the inet like your facebook account - you should have protect your personaly things at the inet and not be surprised if persons find this informations.

Come on, did you really think you get only applause for this blog? And now you are writing again about instead be quite - this was nearly forgotten, why do you bringing it again in the "light"?

icyHighs said...

I'm sorry to hear about what you went through. Didn't see anything wrong with your SRK post, or with putting this one up either. Be strong, and keep doing what you do.

Jessy Love said...

If somebody thinks to have to attack a person, you should prepare on the reprisal.
Reaction obtains counter-reaction. So the life is.

Ophelia Balan said...

Absolutley shocking. I find it so worrying about cyberbullying and stalking in India, that the police, or those put here to protect us do not do anything about this problem. I'm so sorry that you had to go through this and suffered so much. Stay strong, don't let them affect you or get to you, because then they have won. Take reasonable methods to protect yourself such as changing your online passwords. I write under a pseudonym on my blog, but all that is about to change and I am mentally prepared for hatred and bile that will come my way. A sad reality of the blogging world in India, and the world today. My heart goes out to you, and I hope you find the courage to beat the bullies and keep writing - your blog is fantastic and you made an excellent point! All the best, Ophelia

L.P. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
L.P. said...

You should have known, that attacking someone on a blog with half-baked informations like you did, will gave a shitstorm back to you. Maybe you should learn to give corrext informations by yourself, before attacking aomeone on your blog. Crying for pity will not help...better learn something from that what happened.

antypasti.com said...

Its a personal blog. People have the right to write their opinion on their own blogs at least, I don't see how people don't get it. Its more bugging to see comments accusing one of being a fame-hogger. C'mon its just an opinion with some hard evidence. Whether it be from JK Rowling or some management book, the speechwriter screwed up and that's that. Face it or stop reading blogs

A string from rainbow said...

Sadly dear with all this I am sure SRK would react that its his fans way of showing their love!!

gunjan said...

IT seems like u really want a Publicity after having taking about SRK u have now blogged it SO that u get HIGHLIGHTED !! IT was So Sure that all SRK fans would get on to u as u brought up Unnecessary TOPIC .. and now u say u are bullied ???? HOW NAIVE Please Get a LIFE !! and IF U ARE SO Reserved then please stay at home and don't bring topics on TWITTER OR FACBOOK

soumyajyoti banerjee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rodeny said...

This is funny that people found a blog where she pointed out copying of a speech by a celebrity, now that's fact not defaming. Secondly when she wants to stand up and fight, there are some people here who feel that she is wrong, amazing......... what 1200 years of slavery has done to us...

shubho said...

Great job. Proud of you. But never start a blogpost with 'So'.

How do we know said...

eeps. this is weird. really. sad that u had to go thru this..

Narayan said...

Be Brave!

now that all that was done is lost, this is a new beginning. everything anew.You are free. and will be. for people, i must say dont get bothered on a personal level. each one of us dies, they will die.before them, their voices.
Who is SRK? a mirror of their better self? a narcissistic perspective? or a dream to ride on without wings?
All in all, he is just another brick in the wall [don't blame me, i love this line like everyone else :) ] He will fade off, not your zeal.
Being a part of indian twitter community, i feel sorry for you to face such negativity, but hey, to some extent we all do maybe several levels notched down. It was intense, but now, be glad it's over.
Give time to yourself. not to useless thoughts of others. Read something better, see something beautiful. there are better things in life than channelising yourself to such a herd.

Good Times..

N.

Rajesh Joshi said...

I was a SRK fan. But now an ex-fan, precisely bcos of lunatics like L.P and soumyajyoti banerjee here. The vast majority of SRK fans are fundamentalist and fanatic in nature and won't tolerate the least bit of criticism. I have found this to be the case with his fans everywhere even among my so called friends. I was fed up and ditched most of them. I always criticize who I admire that is a check to ensure you are not a slarve to them (e.g I am the biggest fan of AB but question his unwavering support and promotion of his clearly underserving son, AB Jr, which reinforces the nepotistic precedents in Indian society).

But with SRK fans, the response of any criticism is one of total madness - they completely loose control. They are slaves to him, and SRK is literally their god. To his fans, it is same as criticizing Mohamed or Ram, or even worse, if a word is uttered against SRK. They immediately go into Dutch-cartoon-riots mode. These are sad loosers who have to hang onto someone else's success to validate their pathetic existence. SRK further feeds this frenzy by his attitude of constantly dissing and picking fights with his industry colleagues. The media has completely caved into to his influence to say anything against him or his legions, they simply capitulate and join the bandwagon.

Hence when your write-up went viral there was little reporting from your angle. You'd think the lone blogger would get some support from the fourth estate. Instead they propagated his strategists pov and got his legion to attack you. To top it all his strategist is a woman or SRK's PR cleverly chose a woman to respond to you - who attacks you personally in her riposte - nothing what she says makes sense. The speech was plagiarized and uncredited - she doesn't challenge any of it instead simply deflects the accusation on them by saying you are out for 15 mins of fame. That is a classic Indian politician move - when there are corruption charges aginst you, you simply trump charges against your accuser to deflect public attention. And the public are total idiots (not my words, but Supreme court judge Kadjus) are will swallow anything hook, line and sinker for their idols. This is the slavish society we live in India. Sab gaain bains hain.

Rajesh Joshi said...

I sincerely hope SRK's strategist and all those who attacked you persoanlly, live to regret her/their words. My best wishes that natural calamity befalls these fanatics. India could really do with less fundamentalists and population. Hope SRK's strategist is attacked just like you were, so she learns from first hand experience how it feels at the receiving end. And someone should advise her to buy a better cap - a monkey wouldn't be caught dead in the one she sports on her profile.

Rajiv rawal said...

IT Act 66A is just for this.. I suggest just file a police complaint so these trolls see a jail cell..

Shah said...

The country has gone bonkers. The guy is an actor, a big one at that , no more no less. You watch his films and that should be the end of it. If only people actually criticized are leaders so much, things could have been different.

Dilip D'Souza said...

I am so sorry this happened. You did the right thing all through. Don't let these cyber-cowards, for that's all they are, suppress your spirit.

anoopgupta2007 said...

gunjan, r u realy aware or know what u r writing...or its just typing anything. I mean whts her mistake

Salil said...

This is terrible. Keep blogging; don't let this get you down.

No Mist said...

This is such a shame. Even more shameful than SRK's shameful copying. But you did the right thing and now also you have done right to disclose the hate campaign you faced. For the life of me, I (and most of us) were totally unaware that there could be anything like this going on against you. In fact, I am seething with rage at this injustice right now.

I strongly suspect that a large part of this was sponsored by SRK. His past behavior is a clear indication. You should file a police case against SRK for threats. Since they accuse you of 15 minutes of fame, let us see the plagiarist/coward gets his 15 minutes of defame.

I do have some experience of dealing with online fraud (not hate mail) and though it may seem that the perpetrators are anonymous, they really aren't. You can also find out everything about them the way they did to you.

Be brave ! These cowards can't do a thing to you. If ever one comes across you, just hand over a big tight slap.

No Mist said...

One suggestion - do not remove any comments. It will serve as solid evidence in court if things go to that.

I will be happy if I can be of any assistance to you.

Harit Shah said...

Excuse me, but I take strong exception to your highly discriminatory comments, Ms Mukhopadhyay! This nonesense does NOT just happen in India, it happens globally also. People who are intolerant to others' views and dissent write all sorts of BS, completely driven by emotion and madness, with cold logic thrown out of the window. When Ben Affleck was announced as the next Batman, a slew of criticism, most of it BS, flooded the internet. Maybe its not the same example as the current one, but it proves that such stuff is NOT restrcited to India. So please stop showing your discriminatory colours like this. I feel really sad for the ordeal suffered by the author and hope she and her family are OK. Take care!

bigbrotheruncle said...

Dear Agratha,

Ok, I don't know you personally but I do know who you are based on your social media profiles.

Let's get into some history, shall we?

I wanted to go to Toit a few months ago and I googled out a review. I get directed to Burrp, where you've reviewed this place. Nice review btw. Then I go back onto facebook and FB suggests you to me because we have common friends. I know who you are now.

Then I come to the end of this blog post, see your name and then link you to that review of Toit. So, how difficult is it to track you down if you leave such an online trail?

If you have spoken your mind, you should be ready to face/thick skinned enough for, backlash if and when it happens. While I don't condone cyber bullying, this is something that's very normal in a world when you expose yourself to all and sundry by revealing your identity.

There's a reason why newspapers continue to use "special correspondent" on reports that are capable of getting powerful people hot under the collar. Welcome to the world of fearless journalism and toughen up girl. You've taken your first baby steps and you must continue to write your mind.

Say hello to DeeBee.

Cheers,

Big Brother Uncle

Tapasya Mitra said...

Hey Agratha, my name is Tapasya and I work with Bangalore Mirror. I am interested in doing a strong story against cyberbullying and was wondering if you would participate in it?

iCeHoT ARoMa said...

She has written it because morons like you attacked her. she has all the right in the world voice her mind. Who was the issue forgotten by ? Its not forgotten and certainly needs to come to light. with useless jerks like you, people will always be harassed.

iCeHoT ARoMa said...

Stating truth is not an attack. i hope, u even know what 'plagiarism' is. Look up the dictionary.

iCeHoT ARoMa said...

You've either not read what she wrote or you're plain STUPID ! Yes, in capital letters. Go tell, Shahrukh khan to stop plagiarising. And for you, go and learn how to apply mind.

iCeHoT ARoMa said...

Agratha, I strongly urge you to go for it without any fear or apprehension. and Tapasya, I wish to congratulate you for coming forward and wamting to bring it to light. Agratha, you have many supporters here and supporters are stronger than attackers.

Hope1975 said...

Dear Jessy,

First of all your language is not very clear but I still could make out from your message that you want to suggest that if you attack someone, you need to be ready for the counter attack. My dear friend, Agartha did not attack anybody, she just stated facts, so even you need to concentrate on facts! It is just fine if you cannot empathize with Agartha but please don't try to justify the series of malicious attacks on her.

God bless!

No Mist said...

Be careful of the so called Tapasya ... for all you know it might be a fake handle to get to you. Or yet another proxy of SRK. Dear Tapasya, if you are really genuine why dont you first publish the SRK plagiarism story in your newspaper and then talk to Agratha. Prove your intent and identity without requiring anybody to contact you.

Vetri Subramaniam said...

Sorry to hear that you had to go through this nightmare. Unfortunately this is part & parcel of free speech. You have displayed more courage than the Bullies. God Bless you.

Rajesh Joshi said...

When you are feeling lonely and down, you are likely to trust the first person who comes along with a kind word. Don't! That will be a mistake.

Do background check on Tapasya (call up her newspaper etc) before you get in full contact. The lunatics have taken over the asylum, so be vigilant. The fanatics are in plenty, while people like you are scarce. There will be people with nefarious agendas, esp online where it is easy to hide behind fake handles. You need to be vigilant. Don't rely on identity cards, they are dime a dozen, call/email the actual company and get at least a couple of sources to corroborate the identity. Try to investigate and find out independently too about what they have written to find out if they have any bias etc.

This is not being paranoid, but some basic precautions to take when dealing with the media or public, online or in person. The counter-checking should become part of your interaction checklist. It should be habitual, you should not think of it as cumbersome or unnecessary. It will save your lots of unpleasantaries even without your knowledge.

Like a lot of well wishers here, I hope that you carry on doing the good work and courageously voicing your opinion, but please be safe first. Do not be fooled by some here who ask you to ignore these threats or retort with a slap etc. That's naivety. It is possible some of these fanatics are serious. So protect yourself, make police complaints (complain to twitter, get their twitter handles in case they delete them their ip addresses can be found) where required.

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