POLOKWANE – Cyber bullying is a form of harassment that occurs on the web or on the internet and the latest victims thereof were recently crowned Mr and Miss University of Venda 2019 at the University of Limpopo over the past weekend.
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According to the one of the judges, founder and CEO of SAMYF (South African Modelling Youth Forum) Percy Mohale, the problem started when photos of the two winners began circulating and trending on social media. Miss UniVen 2019 was called ugly and too dark to be a beauty queen while Mr UniVen was deemed too short to hold the title.
“The problem with the community/audience is that they assume that beauty pageants are only about physical beauty and that is not the case. As judges, we look at various attributes and characteristics which go beyond physical looks, which is exactly how the contestants of this competition were critiqued and assessed. It very sad that the community as well as fellow contestants would even go to such an extent to trash and tarnish young people’s reputations who are merely just trying to improve, empower and transform themselves as individuals,” he told Review.
Percy said that he, together with the other judges advised the winners of the pageant, Thamathama Ratshili (Miss University of Venda 2018/2019) and Vongani Dumela (Mr University of Venda 2018/2019) to not respond to the posts and focus on performing their duties and growing their brands.
Review spoke to Vinolia Masera, a Campaign Manager who said that there are no rules with regards to using social media platforms. “Social media is a platform for people to express themselves freely and share whatever content that they want. As long as the content is not of violent, disturbing or pornographic nature as the sites will ban the content. In some instances, unfortunately, the content does circulate too fast and causes great damage that even having it pulled down from the web will not restore one’s reputation or dignity. Users are allowed to post any other content, however, in today’s time people do post offensive content and justify it as having freedom of expression, little do they know that they actually can get on the wrong side of the law as the internet is a very wide platform and nothing is really censored or private,” she explained.
Vinolia also advised web users to very extra careful with what they post on social media as that can decrease their chances of progressing in life as employers/recruiters are now looking up potential candidates on social media before calling them in for interviews. This is to assess their characters and overall social status so it crucial to keep your content clean and less aggressive/ offensive in order to maintain a good reputation.
The two winners seemed unbothered by the posts and said that they decided to take the nasty comments and criticism as stepping stones to better themselves.
“Criticism will always be there and people just need to learn to accept them and take them and use those to improve themselves. They can either build or break you as a person, the decision is yours,” said Thamathama, current Mrs University of Limpopo.