Our group aims to inform audiences about how common the emotions and triggers behind bullying are and how serious their effects can be. We will target unawareness about two things: The seemingly harmless/ordinary motivations behind cyber-bullying and the intensity of the effects of cyber-bullying on victims. We also hope to get audiences to empathize from both the bully’s and victim’s POV. Further, we aim to present the different motivations in four pairs of images, of which this post will focus on anger and frustration.
The main idea surrounding the following pictures is that often times, people lash out and misdirect their feelings of anger by venting at others. The Internet provides a platform to do so anonymously, without any “real” or lasting repercussions for the bully. These pictures (hope to) set out to demonstrate that just because the abuse manifests textually, it doesn’t mean that there’s no damage done.
The Not-so Metaphorical Punching Bag
At first glance, the dominant emotion in the visual above is anger, reinforced both by the combination of the visual cue of the man’s action and facial expression. He radiates it fiercely, yet almost unnecessarily so, for his target is a helpless object. It is quite clear that he’s venting out his anger in a violent, yet probably unnecessary way. Similar to the visual, we would like our images to emphasize on this interplay between the man and the object, the bully and their victim.
Technically speaking, the photo has been manipulated to portray (and at the same time, exaggerate) the feeling of lashing out at the laptop. In terms of cyberbullying, this visual may be misleading as it’s clearly directed more towards his laptop (depicted by his fist going through the screen). Hence, it might make more sense for his fist to disappear beyond the screen. In terms of colours, visual has also been vignetted, such that the man at the desk, while being the only subject in the photo, is further highlighted. The contrast between the inner-area and outer-area of the image also lends to the overall concentration of emotions.
Real Words, Real Consequences
To pair with the previous picture, this image demonstrates the point-of-view of the victim. Set against a simple background, the indexical sign of the boy’s tearful yet helpless features paint him as the victim, and the hand — again, manipulated to be constructed out of words, another indexical, symbolic sign of abuse — choking him are the two main focuses of this picture. The font used on the hand is a stark contrast — both in terms of colour and type — set against the boy’s skin, further reinforcing the way that verbal abuse is often haphazard and brash and definitely damaging.
The central theme of this picture runs parallel to cyberbullying, where the victim is often blamed for what they say or do while the abuser/bully is not at fault because as the old refrain goes, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Similar to the previous photo, this image utilizes semiotics to demonstrate the repercussions of one’s action, regardless of whether the bully defines his words as abusive or not. Additionally, the hand originates from an unknown source. While in the case of this photo it is likely to be an adult abuser, our image will play off the hand as an anonymous face from the Internet.