I remember waking up to Facebook notifications.
It wouldn’t have been a surprising thing if it hadn’t been 20 notifications at once. For a person like me who has always maintained a low profile in the school, I was surprised someone or a few people even took the chance to visit my profile. I presumed the notifications were those of people liking my posts or something, but when the Facebook app finally managed to load completely, what I saw… scared me.
Mornings were supposed to have a schedule. I used to leap out of my bed, faster than a rat in trap and rush into the shower before anyone else occupied it. The usual clanking of metal utensils downstairs confirmed that Mom was busy cooking breakfast for all of us, and at occasional intervals, she’d shout to me and ask me to come to the table. Everything in the morning happened in a rush because no one was willing to wake up ten minutes earlier.
However, something was strange about that morning. Either the house was unusually quiet or I was too lost to keep a track on the drone of noises. The sky wasn’t amber but grey, exactly like how I was feeling when I scrolled through the notifications.
“XYZ Confessions tagged you in a post.”
“R commented : This is precious.”
“T commented : Check this out! That girl deserves this!”
“S commented : Lol.”
“P commented : So fucking true!”
Even before I had opened the entire post, I knew it had to be something bad, because the comments came from people who I really didn’t like a lot.
I remember my lips quivering as I clicked on the post and waited with bated breath for the post to load. A hundred apprehensions clouded my brain and suddenly, the schedule of the morning was forgotten. When Mom called for me to come downstairs, I lied and told her I was dressing up, when in reality, I was still sitting on my bed, chewing on my nails, waiting to read the post.
Every second of wait was killing me.
And when I happened to finally read the post, it killed me. Goosebumps arose on my skin when the slightest wind brushed past me. The comments started blurring and when the pain started settling across my nose, I realized I was on the verge of crying. Questions shot through my mind. Who could have written something like that? Why would anyone hate me? And why have some of my friends liked the post?
Mom called for the umpteenth time and after getting no response, she decided to come upstairs herself.
The moment I heard her footsteps on the wooden staircase, I took a deep breath and slipped under the blanket again, burying my face in the bulges of the pillow.
“What?” she asked, entering my room. “Why are you still in bed?”
“I’m having a headache. I don’t think I can go to school,” I mumbled.
“But you have a practical test today!”
As much as I didn’t want to go to school that day, I knew I had to. I couldn’t miss my practical exams. But a part of me was okay with the prospect, if it meant not having to face the students in the school that day. I was afraid that they’d talk about me in the hallways. I knew my classmates were going to have a questionnaire ready for me. And I knew I couldn’t take all that.
However, after Mom’s constant persuasion, fifteen minutes later, I sat in her car.
“Do you still have a headache?” she asked when we reached the school’s parking lot.
I shook my head and managed to give her a convincing smile. After her car had left the school premises, I walked slowly towards my class.
Yes, they were talking about me. Everywhere. Be it the crowded corridors where group of girls sneered and made dirty comments or bathrooms, where everything was discussed in hushed whispers or my class where the recent post on the confession page was as trending as hash tags on Twitter – they all talked about me. And it was tough to put on a pretence. It was difficult to behave like nothing had happened when everything written in that post, affected me a lot. I acted like it was okay with me, but deep inside, I was breaking.
Over the days, though the discussion died down, I found it hard to face someone or to talk with them, because at the back of my mind, I always had a perennial fear about what he/she might be thinking about me.
All my frustration started to build up. I lived in constant fear and doubt. Each night, before I went to bed, I thought about the people who hated me and could have posted that. Too many names came to my mind. Every minute that I was free, I whiled away my time on the Confession page, stalking every post, refreshing the page every five seconds to check if there was another confession about me.
Then one day, I decided that it was enough. I couldn’t live my entire life with my face glued to some stupid Facebook page. Once or twice, I took out my frustration on posts, commenting on how derogatory certain things on the page were and that they must be stopped, but I was faced with even more criticism. Some told me that I was plain jealous because there were no good confessions about me. Others retorted that it was none of my business.
I deleted my Facebook account. I knew it was no use talking to deaf ears. And I never visited confession pages anymore.
Until last night.
One of my friends happened to forward me a link to a post on the same confession page. The post called a girl too fat and that she must get a life. Below were several comments, criticizing the girl on her weight and making cheap remarks on her clothes.
It made me sad. Depressed. To think about what the girl might be going through.
We all have flaws. Perfection is something that can’t be achieved. So what if someone is someone, they could never be? Does it give them the right to tell her whatever they wish? Does it give them the right to bully her to a point where she starves herself to fit in someone’s books?
As I happened to scroll through the various posts, I wanted to know WHY? HOW? How could people be so rude? How could they be so insensitive to post things like this about another person?
Confession pages were supposed to be fun. But halfway through, they presented a darker picture to all of us. People started using it as a platform to post rude and derogatory comments about someone and to spread rumours. Seventh grade girls were called “sluts” and senior girls were the so-called “bitches”. Are these called confessions?
I was frustrated.
Just because confession pages allowed the confessor to be anonymous, didn’t mean one could bully someone to no extent?
And what about the people who actually run these confession pages?
The few posts I saw were pretty rude and the admins of the page were quite okay with it, even joining the line and adding a few more shameful remarks!
Amidst a hundred positive things, a person will only remember the one negative comment told about him/her. That one negative comment, destroys a life. People drown into fits of depression. There have been cases of suicide due to instances of cyber bullying. After how many such incidents, are people going to learn something?
What have we done to the social networking portals?
Is it always going to remain such a scary place?