Kenya cyber bullies on the loose

May 14, 2013 7:49 am
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Lynda was the target of cyber-bullies because of her weight/COURTESY
Lynda was the target of cyber-bullies because of her weight/COURTESY

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 14 – When Kiss 100 Big Breakfast presenter Lynda Nyangweso got a frantic call from her concerned mother asking her what she had done wrong, she broke down.

That her mother had got wind of the online bullying that she had endured for the better part of Wednesday May 8 on Twitter and Facebook was the last straw for the bubbly radio personality.
At that moment, the helplessness of it all and the realisation – of just how awful people could be – tore the last defences she had.

Lynda was the target of cyber-bullies because of her weight.

“It killed me more when my mom called me and told me about these horrible things that were going on and I was hurt,” she says.

“I cried not because I felt personally bad but because my mother felt like they were attacking her child and there was nothing she could do about it,” she confesses.

It all began when a not so complementary full length photo surfaced on social media platforms – Twitter and Facebook – attracting cruel comments about her size.

“I have younger cousins who look up to me and I didn’t know how to explain to them that if you don’t look like what they think you should look like, you’re not good enough.”

With diabolical relish, the disparaging remarks were re-tweeted, shared and liked making her weight a trending topic in the country.

“And the worst part was that they chose one horrible picture and went with it. These were people who have never seen me; people who don’t know what I’m about making snap judgments,” she laments.

“I have younger cousins who look up to me and I didn’t know how to explain to them that if you don’t look like what they think you should look like, you’re not good enough.”

Her incident once again brought to sharp focus the emerging platform used as a weapon to attack those with standing in the society.

Cyber-bullying is rife in Kenya with personalities such as Nyangweso’s colleagues at Radio Africa Group Caroline Mutoko, Kalekye Mumo and Ciku Muiruri as well as Susan Mirfat alias Susan wa Tujuane as some of those who have borne the brunt of acerbic online attacks in recent times.

“I know what I’m about. I know the things I’m self conscious about and I know the things I’m not. But I’m a girl. Every girl is self conscious about the way she looks, whether she’s Gisele Bundchen or whoever,” she adds.

While such reckless acts are yet to be linked to loss of life, they definitely scar the intended target for life. Most are forced to shut down their accounts as short term remedies.

Others however get numerous new followers who are keen on following the drama without necessarily having to go through the victims’ accounts.

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