When I first started high school, cyber-bullying wasn’t very topical, I guess mainly because Facebook barely existed, Twitter didn’t exist at all and mobile phones weren’t as fun and “smart” as they are now. Throughout school though, technology and social media developed extremely quickly and, that being said, I have experienced mild forms of cyber-bullying and have known others who have been more severe victims. Nowadays cyber-bullying is ever increasing into a serious subject matter that definitely should not be taken lightly.
Cyberbully, aired on 15th January of this year, focuses on young girl Casey (played by Game of Thrones‘ Maisie Williams), who is a typical teenager always online, always tweeting and blogs anonymously as “Chronic Youth.” One evening, she is at the mercy of an online hacker, who claims “I help victims of cyber-bullying” and here her hour of torture begins.
As events play out in real time, we watch as real life cyber bullying cases are compiled together and dramatised for this terrifyingly truthful docu-drama. The point is, even if comments are made anonymously, most people are actually bullies online. Those often forget that there is a real person with feelings behind the screen, and that actually people bully out of jealousy, spite and a need to fit into a society driven by technology and social media. Even Casey shockingly reminds us: “Everyone does it. It’s f—king nasty, but it’s normal!”
Maisie Williams as Casey, for me, drives the 60 minutes. I was worried after seeing a trailer a few months ago that Cyberbully would be too dramatic and over-the-top, but when watching it, those worries disappeared. Practically a one woman show, she carries the film well, striking the right balance between normal moody teenager, matter-of-fact nasty teenager, and vulnerable girl.
Cyberbully was a tad predictable, and the section with the pills, I thought, was a bit silly, but it wasn’t made to be scrutinised too much. It’s a message, and held an incredible authenticity and realistic truth to it that actually moved me. If it won’t leave a mark on anyone else, let’s hope it leaves a mark on the younger generation (including myself), to always think twice about their activity and what they publish online.