“For me, technology is two-faced. It can help humanity, but at the same time, it can also give some people an outlet to hurt others without consequence. I believe there is no place in the world for cyberbullying,” – Eduard Folayang
There is no denying the power and the reach that social media has.
When used properly and correctly, social media has the power to help and unite people. On the opposite side of the spectrum, when used in the wrong way, social media can hurt and destroy people as well.
The latter was the case for 22-year old Japanese-Indonesian professional wrestler and reality television star Hana Kimura, who was forced to take her own life after being on the receiving end of cyberbullying following an appearance on the Japanese reality show Terrace House.
Kimura’s death sent shockwaves throughout the professional wrestling circles and people from in and out of the industry expressed their condolences.
Some martial artists also expressed their sympathy and reacted to the unfortunate circumstances leading to Kimura’s tragic death.
“It’s always sad when we lose a member of the martial arts community. I didn’t know Hana Kimura personally, but I’m sure many people loved her. It’s just unfortunate that she had to go through what she had to go through. I don’t think anybody deserves that,” shared former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang.
Folayang, considered the face of mixed martial arts in the Philippines and one of the sport’s most recognizable figures, is no stranger to receiving criticism online.
Folayang and his fellow Team Lakay stablemates have often talked about using their bashers and critics as motivation to do better and improve themselves in terms of their craft.
That motivation has helped Folayang and Team Lakay to numerous world championships over the years.
For the 36-year old Baguio City native, online presence should be handled with responsibility.
“For me, technology is two-faced. It can help humanity, but at the same time, it can also give some people an outlet to hurt others without consequence. I believe there is no place in the world for cyberbullying,” said Folayang.
“It’s very wrong because you’re essentially harassing someone despite not knowing anything about that person’s life or what they are going through. Depression is not something we should take lightly,” he added.
While at times it may be difficult to block out all the noise and negativity, Folayang encourages people to know their true worth and not let the opinions of others become the basis for one’s existence.
As someone who has faced numerous setbacks throughout the course of his life and career and has still managed to rise to the top, Folayang is one of the best examples of perseverance there is.
“It’s a tough situation now but I think sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that our identity is not formed from the opinion of others. I encourage others to be strong and understand that our mistakes do not define us. Hang in there and we will all get through this together,” said Folayang.
“I also want all the people out there suffering from depression to know that you are not alone, and that many people love you — your family, your friends. We should all help one another, especially during these difficult times,” he continued.
Vietnamese-American women’s atomweight contender Bi “Killer Bee” Nguyen can relate well with Kimura’s situation, given that she herself was also a reality star once.
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Prior to her ONE Championship career, Nguyen was a participant on the widely popular American reality TV series Survivor.
“The martial arts world lost a beautiful soul. While I did not know Hana Kimura personally, I am saddened by her loss in this terrible tragedy. I don’t believe anyone deserves to be bullied for any reason,” Nguyen said.
“Cyberbullying is rampant because the internet allows bullies to attack others without consequence. Right now, with most of the world at home, there is a bigger audience for cyberbullies. It affects everyone of all ages and status. These comments you read online really manifest subconsciously and affect us much more than we realize,” she continued.
Nguyen herself has had experiences with bullying – cyber and real life – having survived an abusive relationship with an ex-boyfriend. Nguyen said that martial arts was a way for her to get back on track.
“I’ve gone through some intense experiences in my life, but martial arts was there to help build my confidence. It taught me how to turn to my team and my true friends for support. I think that is one of the hardest things to do,” said Nguyen.
Like Folayang, Nguyen also encourages reaching out to someone – family, relatives, or friends – in times of need.
“We often want to suffer or hurt alone, but that shouldn’t be the case. We should share ourselves with our loved ones and help each other through difficult times.”
For the 30-year old, being able to block out negativity, both online and in real life, is an important way of coping.
“If you are being bullied online, I suggest three steps. First, delete and block these individuals. Second, acknowledge that these are sick individuals who don’t know you. Third, turn to your support system that does know and love you,” said Nguyen.
“I’ve gotten bullied online too. One thing that really helped me was realizing that it really wasn’t about me. These accounts are like computer viruses. They don’t know who I am, and they certainly aren’t human in any sense of the word,” she concluded.