Chris Crocker has a complex history with Internet trolls and cyberbullying. The YouTube sensation, who originally rose to social media fame following his heartfelt 2007 “Leave Britney Alone” video, shut down his YouTube channel earlier this month in response to hateful comments constantly posted on the videos he uploaded. Crocker, who openly struggles with mental health issues, hopes to shed light on effects of anonymous social media commentators. As he explains in a Facebook post, “The website got so toxic with comments telling me to kill myself… that it just wasn’t worth it. My mental health and focusing on positivity is the most important.”
The veil of anonymity that comes with the Internet contributes to the hateful and purposely controversial comments left by those who many refer to as “trolls.” A 2014 YouGov poll reports that as many as 28 percent of individuals nationwide who actively post online divulge they participate in “malicious online activity” directed toward strangers through social media and other sites. These trolls make controversial comments online in an effort to get other users agitated, to their own amusement, often starting debates that end up wasting the time and energy of all parties involved. In Crocker’s case, he couldn’t even escape the trolls after taking down his YouTube channel. People criticized him for giving in to the bullies, to which Crocker responded, “You don’t understand what chemically struggling with depression and anxiety and other mental health issues is like… Please for one second realize this isn’t about being weak. The strongest thing you can do is what’s best for you.”
It might be a dark reflection of society today that an individual who first became famous through publicly defending someone who was being bullied has subsequently faced years of merciless cyberbullying. The intention behind Crocker’s original video was to defend his favorite pop star, who was facing intense criticism in the media for her erratic behavior and mounting speculation surrounding the presence of mental health issues. Instead of listening to his impassioned plea, Internet trolls refocused their hateful messages on Crocker’s appearance, behavior and lifestyle. Now, eight years later, Crocker has been forced to defend himself in an effort to protect his own mental health and well being.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, regardless of whether they relate to cyberbullying, help is available. Sovereign Health Group specializes in treating individuals struggling with mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and dual diagnosis. Call to speak with a professional today about treatment centers in your area.
Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer