Tennis star has zero love for cyber-bullying

Twenty-two year old Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino stunned her fans recently when she announced she was taking a leave of absence from the industry.  She has been battling depression due to cyber-bullying, forcing social media back under the microscope.

Marino made her decision after being ridiculed for her weight via Twitter.  She tweeted back saying she was happy with her body, but was indeed hurt by the comments.  Marino recently closed both her Twitter and Facebook accounts and has conceded to becoming a victim of its tight grip.

Marino claims she has been suffering from mental illness for years and has only now decided to come forward.  She hopes it will help others to follow suit.

Rebecca Marino
Rebecca Marino

Minimizing her online presence may help Marino find her centre. However, there are still many others who can’t find the strength to unplug.  They desperately need social media to stay “relevant.”

Facebook and Twitter may also be seen as catalysts, increasing the desire among users to constantly “creep” their friends’ pages to see what they’re up to.  This surge of jealousy, or “healthy competitiveness” starts a wave of emotions that can either go up or down, depending on the person.

It’s not always easy to shake off the anxiety, as Marino experienced.  Sometimes witnessing status changes such as “in a relationship,” or “going to Hawaii,” or “got a new job” causes some people to feel like their own lives are headed nowhere.

Enduring “friends'” successes

The same thing can be said for the number of friends accumulated on these networking sites.  The popularity contest can grow tiresome for many people.

“It makes me feel weird when I see 400 friends on someone’s Facebook,” says Caitlin Kirkwood, a first year Visual Arts student at Sheridan College. “Posting things to try and impress people you haven’t met nor had a conversation with is a waste of time,” she adds.

Kirkwood describes feeling depressed when she logs onto Facebook because she has to endure the success her friends now seem to have after completing Sheridan’s Journalism program- the very same one she dropped out of.   She now questions her decision constantly.  It seems as though Facebook and Twitter are being used as yardsticks for personal growth.

Samantha Tan constantly reads other people’s Tweets and Facebook posts.  She visits these sites to keep abreast of the news and other events.  Tan, a first year animation student at Sheridan, believes that anonymity gives people the courage to say things they normally wouldn’t say.

Emboldened by anonymity

It may have been the same comforting guise of anonymity fuelling the instigator of the negative tweets aimed at Marino.    Someone who didn’t know her personally felt justified and emboldened to tweet with such authority.  The sheer ease of being able to hide behind a screen, coupled with the ability to go uncensored can be completely addictive.

Shelly Gray  believes there is such a thing as having an addiction to social media.  Gray, a certified addictions counsellor, says there is no difference between someone who is addicted to drugs and someone entranced by social media.  The highs and lows are similar.

“A lot of us experience a sense of disconnect when our lives are not immersed in social media.  We feel naked if we leave our cellphones at home. It’s really powerful.”

Perhaps Marino should have had a thicker skin.  Maybe she’ll bounce back from this after realizing the comments about her weight were made by someone with too much time on their hands.  Some will probably say she should be used to outsider comments since she’s a prominent figure in the public eye.

There will also be those who say she is smart for powering down in order to breathe easy for a while.


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The Oakville Sun News Desk is responsible for the editorial content you see published on this site. The content is the work of Sheridan journalism students as they learn their skills and prepare for working in the field.