Have you ever been (cyber) bullied? by HiewKao
Updated: Aug 18
👋 Hello there,
This is my first blog in English because I want to write it as a part of a subject at Mahidol University International College (MUIC).
This blog is a part of the ICMC 202 Media and Cultural Theory (Trimester 1, Academic Year 2020-2021) final project about cyberbullying in Thailand and abroad. In case if there is any mistake on this blog that we tried to apply the semiotic theory to our contents and also English grammatical errors, we apologise for those faults in advance :)
Please DO NOT copy any content and details on my blog without my permission, HiewKao's team members and Ajarn Jeri's consent.
Our contents insert and provide 8 examples of online sources that demonstrate the relevance of our chosen theory to our chosen topics and issues.
To make it easier to read, please read here before you scroll down...
- We will divide green colour as topics for each case.
- All details about every example are in black but separate, like journalistic essays or news articles.
- Summary of how we applied the semiotic theory with this symbol ❖ and in blue colour.
Let's talk about cyberbullying...
Have you ever been (cyber) bullied by someone and it leaves a scar on you forever?
Do you think (cyber) bullying still exists in our generation?
Some of us might say no, but actually, it does exist in the form of “cyberbullying” on social media. It is a common situation currently that causes an extremely negative effect on people in every range of ages, especially to young adults who are always active on social media.
It is undeniable that the social platform is a portal to those awful experiences for the reason that they could be anonymous users and bullied others or famous people. Moreover, the virtual society on the internet is powerful in both positive and negative ways to the vast majority of people.
Many netizens cling to social media, and it is accessible to everyone only with the internet and phone. For illustration, cyberbullying tends to occur on celebrities as well as famous people, and there have been some possibilities that happen to ordinary people like Amanda Todd, a Canadian teenager who committed suicide when she was only 14 years old by cause of cyberbullying.
Some celebrities may delete their official accounts because cybercitizens bullied them, such as harsh and rude comments or racism problems through their words/comments on Instagram, Twitter, or other social media uses. It is relevant to us because some of our favourite actors may have depression or mental health issues because of those cruel behaviours and we are always on the social network as it is our daily routine and check it daily.
Furthermore, if this circumstance happens to us, it totally affects our mental health issues. In case it is brutal, it will lead to self-harm and suicidal cases.
We would like to present the theory called “Semiotics Theory'' under the topic of “cyberbullying”. Due to the fact that there are many symbol associations that occur in most cyberbullying issues.
Here are some tragic cases of people who encountered cyberbullying...
A transgender barber committed suicide because of being LGBTQ+ and had been cyberbullied on the social network.
In this news article from Thairath news, it said a transgender barber committed suicide by shooting themselves in their mouth at their house. Their name is Miss Patcharee Dejphanphu, 42 years old.
There is a calibre rifle from the CZ brand beside them at the crime scene and a cord cartridge 3-meter-long. The police assumed that they used the cord cartridge to trigger the brace of the rifle. Additionally, there are clothes and a cloth bag on their bed with 2 suicide notes written by the victim themselves.
In the first note, they wrote, “ Please suit me with those clothes on the bed and burn the outfit bag at the same time at the funeral. Love you, dad, mom, Am, Oat, Ad, and everyone. Take care of yourself.” In the second note, she wrote, “Do not regret, everyone has to die, (I was) depressed about life.”
The police collected those notes as evidence. The police examine the victim's older sister about what is her sister’s motivation to commit suicide.
Her elder sister said her sister is sensitive to social media and serious about reading every comment on their posts and the product that they posted for sale. Her sister talked with them very often about this problem, and she saw that her sister was depressed about it in the past few days.
❖ This incident is related to semiotic theory in a way that people who comment on the victim's post on social media have an intention to depress her feeling when she read the comment on her product post by critiquing her product in a bad way. Therefore, it actually describes a person’s thinking through a comment that we consider as the link between the semiotic theory with the expression through social media.
2. Cyberbullying reaction of the Thai celebrity verbally sexual harassment towards a girl-gamer.
The tweet above is from one user who informed about the cyberbullying action of the Thai celebrity who played the game “Among Us” and had the action of sexual harassment towards one stranger-woman-gamer.
The woman gamer had her character as a purple avatar with a fried egg on top of its head. When the game was about to start, the guy celebrity was greeting this woman by saying that “Can I touch your egg?”
In the Thai language, the word ‘egg’ stands for more than one meaning. First, it means egg as food. However, in this case, ‘egg’ stands for men’s testis, which is very sexually harassing and unacceptable for everyone.
❖ Nonetheless, the semiotics theory can be seen clearly in this situation. The ‘egg’ is the main symbol that is the key to connecting every object to become the main issue of this case study. Due to the symbolism of egg that can be linked with several meanings, it created the significance of the meaning that leads to sexual harassment.
3. Body-shaming issues on Instagram just because she wears only lingerie.
In this picture, the author (Charlotte) was bullied by online netizens through her social media platform. A lot of people have commented negatively on her post that she uploaded a picture of herself wearing only underwear.
Many comments were shaming her body that she is fat and making fun of her face and makeup. Then, she posted this picture of herself and those negative comments with the caption “I am not embarrassed about my eczema, cellulite, weight or scars. I am embarrassed by you” and express her feelings about those hate comments.
These days, beauty standards are still limited in some societies...
For instance, in Thailand, people are normalised by the beauty standards that people have to be white and slim. In reality, no one is born to be perfect, and there is no limitation of the word “beauty.” Instead, everyone has the right to choose to do anything with their own body. Society should be more open to the good amount of plastic surgery and more accepting of the beauty variations.
❖ With this situation, we can see clearly that the semiotic theory is related to it. As you can see in this picture, some comments negatively contain an emoji. The emoji can be a sign of how the participants respond to the image that Charlotte posts on her Instagram.
For instance, the comment from ‘my5plusmylove_’ respond to her picture with the emoji 🤢that looks like it almost pukes from its mouth. This emoji represents his feeling that when he sees this picture, he feels negative about it. Even though it seems like it is just an emoji, it actually describes a person’s feeling through this symbol that we consider as the link between the semiotic theory with the expression through social media.
4. Teachers' rights as an LGBT and her life story as a teacher.
This article is about the story of a Thai teacher in a public school who was bullied by society. She is an LGBT gender.
Her name is “Teacher Bolly” or Mr Teerapong Meisatchao, who lived in Amnat Charoen Province. She is determined to complete his studies and examinations to be a civil servant to achieve the dreams of his parents. She is an English teacher in Prasat Prachakit School Damnoen Saduak District, Ratchaburi Province, and she has become "Cyberbully victims," even though Thai society is now more open and accepting of LGBT people.
As she is an LGBT and has a cheerful personality that she loves to do weird makeup while teaching her students in order to get student’s attention and be happy to study with her. This made the teacher Bolly from ordinary people with a few hundred acquaintances, become the public figure of a society of millions.
After a strange makeup clip that teaches English became a notorious viral clip in the social world in the middle of the year 2019. When becoming a celebrity in the blink of an eye, the consequence "Teacher Bolly" was hit by a cyberbully with so many negative comments on social media, unstoppable that I felt overwhelmed.
A smile of happiness wandering, and it also affects people who are close to her. She suggests to the people in the cyber world to think carefully before putting their finger on the keyboard and typing comments on other people posts, both known and unknown persons.
They should leave comments with facts, not a personal perspective, and not set a vigilante to judge others just for fun. Or, just because you want to press other people down.
❖ In this case, the semiotics theory has illustrated the symbol that comes in the form of gender identity that caused society to bully this teacher. LGBTQ+ should be accepted in our generation and should be normalised in today’s society.
5. Pantip.com anonymous writer tells her younger sister's story that she has been bullied since grade 6.
This picture is a blog about the anonymous post on Pantip.com, which is one of the most popular topic boards for Thais. The writer has written about her sister getting cyberbully by her classmate.
Her sister moved out from that school to a new school when she was in grade 6 in primary school, but her old classmate did not stop bullying her and provoke other students in her sister's new school to cooperate with her.
The old classmate used a fake account on Facebook and Instagram to bully others so no one can arrest her and sue her; she has used this social network gap to bully whomever she wants. She also secretly captured her sister and her mother's identity card, contact, and address to intimidate her sister that she would use it in a bad way.
❖ In this case, the semiotics theory has illustrated the symbol as a form of intimidation that the old classmate did to the anonymous’ sister. She secretly captured the identity card, contract, and address from anonymous’ sister and mother and intimidated them that she would use it in a bad way. This could be a sign that she will use it as blackmail to frighten them and order them to do what she wants.
6. The saddest story of a Canadian girl named "Amanda Todd".
!!! WARNING OFFENSIVE CONTENT TO SOME AUDIENCES !!! Her video on YouTube: here
This story is about a 14-year-old girl named Amanda. She had talked to the stranger online like a normal action that most teenagers do in this generation and accidentally got blackmailed by a guy she used to be in love with. This caused her separation in school, and she got denied by friends, so she had to move schools several times.
However, it is the beginning of everything and makes her committed suicide. She started to talk with a stranger on social media, and this guy asked her to take her nude picture and send it to him. Sadly, she admitted it and followed what this man said.
A year later, this guy created a new Facebook account and uploaded Amanda's nude photo as a profile picture and then added Amanda’s fellow friends in her school.
According to this action, Amanda has got physically abused by her friends, which make her depressed and then committed suicide. A lot of comments about her on social media negatively blamed her. Moreover, some peoples' comments that she deserved to die, and some brutally comments suggested her to go f***k herself.
❖ In this case, the symbol shown through this story is mainly the suicide letter. However, the semiotics theory in this situation, Amanda chose to express herself through words and recorded herself in a video showing her deepest emotions, and posted the video on YouTube. That is considered as the main symbol that depicts the feeling before her death.
7. Thai famous Youtube Gamecaster had to explain that he did not have bad intentions to say this word in sexual ways.
These 4 Tweets below are a declaration from Eak HEARTROCKER (one of the most famous YouTuber and Gamecaster in Thailand) when using "hom" terms.
Translation from Thai to English for Eak's first Tweet:
..."The first thing I want to inform is the term "hom", I have used it (when casting games) for a long time. It has been used to comfort someone when they lose or feel not okay (hom hom na*), it DOES NOT intentionally mean anything in the sexual harassment context. I can assure you 100 per cent. Though it went viral and some people asked me to use it appropriately, so I want to switch to other words because -"
*Na - is a way to soften particles and put after sentences, but it is not extremely polite as "ka" (for women) and "krub" (for men).
His second Tweet about the reasons why he tries to avoid this term:
... "I feel awkward to use this expression; it is the only reason why I declared this statement. I feel genuinely sorry for making fun of the word (hom). Anyway, I have NEVER used the word hom in sexually means or space it (like H O M) to anyone's post. The next thing I want to apologise is-"
His third Tweet about his cover songs:
... "For covers, I asked those brotherly besties to join me because it contains hilarious verses and weirdo rap-style in strange languages. My only purpose is just to make others laughing and smiling. I have not seen that it may be predicted in harassment meaning. It is my fault that I did not meditatively think over it before I officially posted on YouTube."
His last Tweet said that:
... "Finally, I would like to thank those netizens who tried to warn me because they want me to become a better person. I gratefully thank all of you, I promise I am going to improve myself in better ways."
This Twitter post is from a Thai famous gamer that came out to declare the issues that had happened.
The issues started from this gamer along with his friends streaming the game on Youtube, and he said the word “HOM”. In Thai, the word “HOM” (หอม) means something smells really good, but it also implicitly means negatively in a sexual way if you space the word as "H O M" (ห อ ม).
Furthermore, this word occurs countless times in comments under the post where someone is accidentally wearing tight leggings or any other tight pants.
❖ In this case study, the word “H O M” is the crucial symbol that comes in the form of expression that stands for three words. This can be lucidly seen that not only objects that can be symbolically seen but words and also be included in semiotics theory. Sometimes, it is even obvious cyberbullied than pictures or any other objects.
8. WonderFrame was cyberbullied and had to stand up for herself after her photos were photoshopped and appeared nude.
Photoshopped images that were posted on her Instagram account for the reason that some of her fans sent it to her to let her knew what had occurred.
This post is related to the Thai woman famous singer or known as Wonderframe that stood up against cyberbullying from social media. There are some people who direct messages (DM) to her with pictures that edit her face on indecent photos that you can see in this post.
Under the post, she said that she received those types of pictures every day until one day she can not hold her patience anymore, so she prosecutes those posts to the police and informs them about those pictures on her Instagram account.
❖ For this situation occurs in Thai society, it is related to the semiotic theory that the anonymous edit this Thai woman famous singer pictures in immoral ways and wickedly put her through sexual harassment experiences. Therefore, it is a sign that nowadays, people can edit any person's face in evil ways and damage your reputation.
★ In conclusion, the “semiotic theory” basically occurs in most of the cyberbullying case studies that we have represented. This theory mainly focuses on the symbols that each one put specific meaning through media that primarily focus and inform media users.
From what we have been stated above, the signs can present in several different ways.
Some might be in words, pictures, language, or gender identities, etc. These symbols finally lead to our main topic “cyberbullying”, and the symbols also have such a significant impact on most social media users.
Thanks for reading our blog and applied semiotic theory :)
We sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding and error that may appear on our blog. Still, we hope you gain more knowledge in what we tried to communicate or our interpretation and analysis.
Mahidol University International College (MUIC), Mahidol University, Salaya Campus, Thailand. Fine and Applied Arts Division | Media and Communication all initials below credited to HiewKao's 6 members. 1. KMF 2. TAS 3. NNW 4. MKW 5. GTA 6. BST PS. HiewKao (HK) อ่านว่า หิว-ข้าว 😖 Pronounced as "Hiew-Kao(w)" means "we are starving". But seperately, "hiew" means "hungry" and "kao(w)" means "rice" 🍚