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Warburg Micro Syndrome and Cyberbully- How to Prevent and Protect

The internet is a double-edged sword that on one side has vastly accelerated human innovation and connection, but on the other side has hurt a vast array of users. Just like in the real world, vicious bitter people find those who stick out from the status quo and attempt to assault them with insults. When an individual has certain more prominent attributes that stand them out from the crowd, they can tend to become victims of cyberbullying.

Warburg Micro Syndrome

Take a hypothetical child, Timothy, who suffers from Warburg Micro Syndrome. With his disorder he has smaller-than-average eyes, low muscle tone, intellectual disabilities, and poor eyesight. As a genetic disorder, there are only remedies for symptoms, such as various therapeutics and medicines. On his birthday, his mother chooses to post Tiktok celebrating her beautiful son, as most parents do. However, much to her chagrin, Timothy’s mother did not receive the same love and affection that other children would have received. She is in shock and awe as she sees the influx of comments on her post ridiculing and harassing her son.

Life on the Internet with Warburg Micro Syndrome

Just like most disabilities, children with Warburg Micro Syndrome, like Timothy, are often victims of cyberbullying. Most commonly cyber-bullies assault through insults, name-calling, and creating negative memes, however, many go as far as full-on stalking and harassment. Because of the physical effects of Warburg Micro Syndrome, individuals with the syndrome are often easy targets. Cyberbullying can be taxing to victims and their families' minds with approximately 26% of children reporting suicidal thoughts after being cyberbullied. Cyberbullying can be detrimental to self-esteem and can leave lasting effects. Timothy’s mother shields her son from all the negative comments he receives, only imagining how badly they could hurt his sense of self. In an ideal world, this harassment would never exist, it is important to know how you can prevent it and move forward from it.

First off I would like to say that if you are reading this because you are a victim of cyberbullying or are trying to support someone who has been cyberbullied, you are not alone. Think of what you are to your parents- their child. Think of what you are to your teachers- their student. Think of what you are to your friends- a friend. My point in saying this is that who you are and show on the internet is only one part of you; simply just ‘internet you’. Words and hate on the internet in no way represent the wonderful and amazing person you are for the rest of your life.

Public vs private public- Prevention

A wide misconception of the internet is that all information put on it is readily accessible to any user. This is where the idea of Public and Private Public content comes into play. Public content would include things such as TikToks, a type of content that when posted is put into an algorithm whose purpose is to share with all other users. Public content of individuals with Warburg Micro Syndrome can often be spread quickly on platforms like TikTok because the difference in physical appearance can pull in attention, and each interaction with a post only further promotes the video. As the views counter grows, there is more and more opportunity for bullies to leave hate.

In contrast, Public Private content can be things such as specific Facebook groups, private accounts, and forums. While these forms of content are still accessible to the public, the group it reaches and who can see content is more controlled than Public content. This does not mean that there is a 0% chance of hate, but its chances immensely decrease. Additionally, using specific restrictions such as comment keyword blocking, adjusting privacy settings, and monitoring follow requests can help prevent seeing any hate on your side.

Now this does not mean that an individual/family member with Warburg Micro Syndrome does not have the right to post on the internet however they like, but rather a suggestion of precaution to avoid hate. The internet is called the World-wide-web for a reason, it encompasses the entire world, and just like how most choose to live in a place where they feel most supported, it is smart to share content on the internet where an individual with Warburg Micro Syndrome would feel most supported.

What to do when being bullied?

In Timothy’s case, the first step after being cyberbullied is to stop and assess her and Timothy’s feelings. Cyberbullying can lead to lowered self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and even self-harm. For this reason, the first step after being cyberbullied is to stop and support yourself; remind yourself that words are just words, not truths.

The next step is to report. To report, it is best practice to document the time and information about the bully to bring the most amount of accountability. Next head to the "Stop Bullying" page and report all the information of the assailant on the cyberbullying page.

Once you have provided the information needed, Timothy’s mother should block the user if possible or leave any form of interaction you have with them. The block button can be very powerful in warding away bullies and should be used at any point when cyberbullying is involved.

The last step is very similar to the first: recognize your feelings and uplift yourself. It is important to remember that everyone is born different and lives distinct lives, and Warburg Micro Syndrome is one of those differences. The comments left on Timothy’s post in no way reflect the amazing attributes he exhibits everyday. The internet’s negative side can have harsh effects on the mind, but it can also be the key to finding support. Timothy’s mother should then find places and groups on the internet that show support for Timothy and her family.

Cyberbullying is a new form of hate that runs rampant and can especially be prevalent for people with Warburg Micro Syndrome, but with community support and education, we can all work to reduce its effects!!

Author: Alberto Garcia Vazquez

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