Why don’t the bullied people just hide?

Another psychologist explains PTSD. Caleb Lack asks Can one get PTSD via Twitter? and answers yes, easily.

I don’t really keep up much with drama and goings-on in the skeptoatheist online world. I’ve got friends who do, though, and they pointed me to a recent post with the in no way linkbaitesque title of:

Woman claims she has PTSD from Twitter and Cyberstalking

Twitter gave me PTSD’: Woman claims mean comments and ‘cyberstalking’ gave her an illness usually suffered by WAR VETERANS

I was asked by this friend, basically, “Can one get post traumatic stress disorder from Twitter?”

In a word: Yes.

That second link isn’t to a post at all, it’s to an article…in the Daily Mail. Yes, the Daily Mail – the UK tabloid sleaze-sheet, which yes, actually published an article echoing “Thunderfoot” jeering at Melody for having PTSD from being harassed on Twitter. That’s the kind of outlet that allies itself with “Thunderfoot” and his harassing friends.

I urge reading the whole post; it’s both interesting and informative. Here’s a takeaway:

TL;DR – PTSD occurs more often in females, as well as for a host of pre-, peri-, and post-trauma variables, with around 6-7% of the U.S. population qualifying for the disorder at some point in their lives, not just war veterans (although they have very high rates).

So, now that you know a bit more about PTSD than you did before (hopefully, anyway. If not, you may need to do some rereading), let’s return to the question at hand: can one “get” PTSD from Twitter?

Bullying has long been known to have a severe impact on mental health, particularly if the bullying is repeated and prolonged. While research has traditionally focused on youth (as briefly reviewed here), more recent work has examined it’s impact on adults. as well, particularly in the workplace. Research focusing specifically on cyberbullying has found very similar results to “traditional” bullying, in terms of increased risk of depression, suicide, and anxiety. In youth, around a third of bullying victims display quite high rates of PTSD symptoms and rates are perhaps even higher in adults who are bullied.

The comments are filling up with comments by people who like to bully demanding why Melody doesn’t just stay away from Twitter. They could instead be deciding not to bully people, but no, that’s not what they’re doing. They’re demanding why a victim of bullying doesn’t just deprive herself of one of the major social media outlets in order to avoid bullying by people like them.


  1. chasstewart says

    I don’t know how Hensley could stay away from Twitter since it is part of her job.

  2. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    No one should have to stay away. That’s the point. It’s exactly the same as saying “don’t leave your house.” “Dont’ walk at night.”

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    “Hide”??? That would do no good. No, that’s not the point at all.

    The bullied people need to DISAPPEAR O_O

    And we can arrange that O_O

  4. quixote says

    Wait. What? Stop bullying? But then the victim would win. That wouldn’t do. It’s all about winning! Being the last one left standing! /*thumps chest*/

  5. Crimson Clupeidae says

    Quixote got it.

    Why don’t they hide? I think that’s basically what the bullies want. So the solution to stop bullying is….

    ….to give them what they want.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  6. says

    I called out a few of the commenters there on their victim-blaming. Cue the completely-missing-the-point of “I’m just asking questions” and “people have a right to be angry” – as if what has been happening to Ms. Hensley were some hypothetical situation and not a massive and ongoing flood of threats and slurs and other varieties of bullying which aren’t excusable by any context.
    So Yeah.

  7. says

    They are being disingenuous shits on there, trying to damage and hurt under the guise of “just asking questions”. They just want to hurt people, deny and undermine perfectly reasonable claims under the auspices of being “good skeptics”. Even if she had made it all up what do you lose by expressing sympathy then moving on? Nothing, in fact even if there was a hypothetical PTSD liar out there public support would be overall a good thing given it would be encouraging for other PTSD sufferers.

  8. jenniferphillips says

    “people have a right to be angry” about what? How on Earth does Melody’s candor about how she’s responded to Twitter-hate adversely affect those commenters, or the “real sufferers” of PTSD in any way?

    (Oops, just refreshed and Oolon basically already said this. *professional victim fist bump*)

  9. theobromine says

    Have I got this straight: Someone points out that she is being cyber-bullied, and that it hurts and should stop. The response is to escalate the harassment to include not only insults but also death threats. Reminds me of the bad parent telling their kid to “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

  10. says

    theobromine – that’s exactly it.

    As for the title of the post: “Why don’t the bullied people just hide?”

    It’s not hard at all to imagine rather a number of similarly insensitive and foolish questions, such as:

    “Why don’t disabled people stay off public transport if it’s so hard for them to get around?” (Seriously, this is a paraphrase of what a tram inspector said to a person with disabilities.)

    “Why don’t trans women all kill themselves already?” (Seriously, this is pretty much what people like Cathy Brennan think.)

    Basically, all you need to be able to think up any number of these sorts of questions is to switch off any feelings of empathy for your fellow human beings and a refusal to put yourself in the position of the other person who you’re gaslighting and telling to stop living their life.

  11. says

    Usually suffered by War Veterans?” Bullshit.

    Not that anyone has ever given enough of a shit to do a study, but I’d be extremely surprised if, upon doing a study, we found that PTSD sufferers were “usually” veterans.

    I’m willing to concede that PTSD from combat is likely to be different (and possibly worse) in some ways from PTSD resulting from other trauma… but most trauma suffered by people is NOT due to combat.

    To assert that only WAR trauma can cause PTSD, not trauma from other sources is astounding dumbassery.

    That kind of ignorant asshattery can only come out of the mouths of people whose knowledge of PTSD comes exclusively from watching Rambo movies.

    These are the same kind of dipshits that say things to me like “you’re not disabled unless you’re typing with a mouth stick.”

    Perfect ignorance combined with perfect certainty.

  12. johnthedrunkard says

    Appeasing bullies hasn’t worked yet. But that doesn’t seem to stop a certain class of victim-blamers from dusting off that saw every time the issue comes up.

    A recent HBO thing, on WAR trauma, made the point that the degree of trauma is NOT a measure of combat experience. (For one thing, really serious combat doesn’t leave many survivors to suffer later symptoms) The point was that the damage seemed to be done by prolonged stresses, fear, disrupted sleep, obedience to unreliable authority etc. etc.

    The term ‘PTSD’ may have been coined with Omaha Beach survivors in mind. But the description includes victims of bullying, hostile workplaces, harassment etc. etc.

  13. says

    Jafafa Hots, the fact that Melody talked about other groups (foster care kids and targets of sexual assault) having higher rates of PTSD is one of the things that people have been pointing to as a reason to harass her. The information is out there. This group of vets just doesn’t like it.

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