‘Roasting’ is the latest cyberbullying trend

A new, and self-propagated, means of cyber bullying is emerging among young social media users. Styled as ‘roasting’, social media users upload an image of themselves on Instagram or Twitter (for example), inviting their friends and strangers to ‘roast’ them online, usually under a hashtag #roastme.

The fascination with roasting has largely been something either seen on TV or experienced at adult gatherings like bachelor and hen parties. But now, young people are getting in on the action through social media, and it has experts worried.

While some comments may be light-hearted or mild, others can be mean and hurtful, with the response received potentially having negative consequences.

The way young people interact with social media is still to be understood, and experts are worried that roasting behaviours could become normal when really they shouldn’t be. When a “roasting” message is posted in the comments, young people aren’t able to understand the impact it has on the other person, whereas if it was face-to-face we are able to see the emotions of distress or discomfort, and in turn, reduce the likelihood of that type of exchange happening again.

Speaking to the Canadian Global News, bullying and healthy relationship expert Debra Pepler commented,

“The reason I would define this as cyberbullying is because it meets the three criteria of bullying.

The person who’s commenting is in a position of power, and the reason for that is because they have an audience larger than one and are using their power aggressively over the other person.

Secondly, they’re doing things that are harmful that may cause distress…

And the other feature of bullying is that it’s repeated.

Although this may not be repeated over time, each time somebody else sees [these comments], there’s a possibility that it increases the sensitivities and the harm.”

Pepler also points out that roasting can have a profound impact on a young person’s self-esteem – whether the comments are invited or not.