Karen Civil on Cyberbullying, Staying Positive and Dismissing the Haters

The social media maven and hip hop commentator shares how she blocks out the bad to make room for doing good.

When it comes to social media, Karen Civil is the queen. Since discovering her passion for digital storytelling in the eighth grade, Civil has built a recognizable brand around the intersection of hip-hop, lifestyle and social media. Promoting positive living and empowerment is what she’s all about, but like anyone with a public, online persona, that doesn’t make her any more immune to Internet trolling or the wrath of digital bullies.

This week, after recounting an awkward encounter, she witnessed between Jay Z and rapper Cam’Ron during a podcast interview, she became the target of the latest herd of cyber bullies. After being encouraged by a derogatory post about her written by Cam’Ron, his fans began polluting her comment sections with hateful and rude remarks. (Yes, complete strangers are seeking out her page just to weigh in, hurl insults and demand that she ‘respond’ or ‘explain.’) But, you know what? She won’t. Civil says she’s too busy to worry herself with anything other than the exciting week she has planned campaigning with Hillary Clinton, but she was happy to sit down and discuss the importance of blocking out the negativity online so that you can stay focused on the positive.

You’re all about bringing positive vibes to social media, yet right now you’re receiving a lot of negative backlash on Instagram. Let’s talk about it.
Yeah. I've gotten to a point where this isn't the first time it has happened to me. It's all about how you use your social platform. Right now, I'm just using mine to empower people, get my entertainment and my news. Other people use their platform for different things. It's unfortunate that cyberbullying is something that happens to 13-year-old kids in junior high and adults in the workplace. It's something that we have to deal with as Americans. I am now a testament to it, and it's happening to me. It's definitely an unfortunate situation.

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What would you say to people who use their time to post negativity on other’s social media accounts?
The Internet is a resource for entertainment, and a lot of the time these are 10 and 11 year old kids who don't have the adequacy to understand that what they're doing is a form of bullying. Then there are people who, unfortunately, have that time on their hands, and they just think this is funny not realizing everybody's not as strong as the next person to be able to withstand the bullying. This is the reason why I promote positivity from America all the way to Haiti, so that we can have strength within our people.

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Do you feel like this is a bigger problem in the hip-hop community, especially for women?
I definitely feel like it is an issue, but it's not just a woman’s issue. You work hard, you sacrifice for everything you do, and in one second, someone can tarnish your name—someone can bad mouth you and someone can say things. People let all of the good things gets washed away because someone spoke ill of them. It's something that's very unfortunate. It's something not even just in the music industry; it's just what people have to deal with in general with certain folks.

Do you ever read the negative comments? How do you personally handle them?
I honestly haven't had the time. I have a lot happening this week that I'm really excited about, especially with doing campaign trail stuff with Hillary [Clinton]. This is a really big and important week for me. I've been working on some future plans and things that I have planned for Haiti, and I've been meeting with my team about that for the last two days. It's been a little hectic on my end, but I haven't had the time to read them.

As far as this most recent cyberbullying incident, you told your version of something that transpired, and now you’re being attacked and called a liar publicly. That seems crazy.
I'm not going to feed into it. I'm at a different place in my life.

What advice would you offer to anyone who gets cyberbullied or shamed online?
You have to make sure that you have a great core group of friends around you ... Everyone doesn't handle bullying the same way. It may be family or friends, or someone around you, to help support you through your time of need. Words do cut, and they do hurt. It was one thing growing up where you were bullied, but you'd just come home. Now you can't really escape it. It's to a point where you turn off that phone, you live your life and you try not to let the words of others offend or stop you from being you and living your life.

Well said, Ms. Civil. Well said.

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