The cyberbullying craze, ‘roasting’ is having a profound effect on its victims. Linda James MBE, founder of anti-bullying charity Bullies Out, gives advice on how parents can deal with it
What is roasting?
If you’ve ever seen the TV series Comedy Central Roasts, you will know that the term ‘roasting’ refers to someone mocking or humiliating someone else under the guise of good humour.
Celebrities volunteer to appear on the show, where their peers will ‘roast’ them by comically trashing their personal and professional lives. They will also use dark material or bad news from the internet by way of inspiration to create a nasty meme about someone. Although this can be entertaining in the context of well known, successful people being publicly ‘brought back down to earth’, ‘roasting’ has now spread online – and become a tool for bullying.
The online trend took off on online forum Reddit, where users would post a picture of themselves holding up a sign saying ‘Roast Me.’ Since then, the craze has spread to social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat, where in many cases, individuals are being roasted without their consent.
Is roasting harmful?
Many parents and children may overlook this type of behaviour, assuming that kids are just joking with each other. However, the reality can be far from it.
Carried out entirely online, under the guise of good humour, ‘roasting’ is far more than the light-hearted banter it’s passed off as being.
The biggest problems with ‘roasting’:
- Young people see it as normal behaviour rather than bullying.
- Young people who volunteer to be roasted often don’t fully understand the repercussions and feel the need to accept the harshest comments without realising they can be a form of cyberbullying.
- Some young people abuse this craze to target individuals.
- Many young people won’t tell someone that they are being bullied.
Cyberbullying is becoming an increasingly common cause of depression, self-harming behaviours and even suicide among teens and pre-teens. For this reason alone, ‘roasting’ should not be ignored.
While ‘roasting’ might seem like humour, it can have detrimental effects on our children and young people. Asking your child about their online and offline behaviour and explaining what roasting and its repercussions actually are, can help give them the resilience to deal with it before it becomes something more serious.
For further help and guidance, visit www.bulliesout.com.
Why do people volunteer to be roasted?
Parent Info looks at the motivation behind the craze
Some people who hold up a ‘roast me’ sign are eager to ingratiate themselves by being the butt of the joke for the amusement of others. Rod Martin, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario describes it as 'hate me humour'. Martin says that 'Routinely offering yourself up to be humiliated erodes your self-respect, fostering depression and anxiety.'
In 2004, psychology professors in the US published a study about the social consequences of disparagement humour, or jokes that belittle or denigrate others. Study co-author Dr. Thomas Ford said that this type of humour functions as a 'social lubricant,' helping people to feel more comfortable around each other.
Meanwhile, in 2011, Nichole Force, who has an MA in counselling psychology, has written books on humour and used to write comedy club reviews for the Los Angeles Examiner, said that roasts can be an ‘initiation’ of sorts into a social circle.
‘Roasts are to comedians what “jump-in” initiations are to gang members — a means of determining whether or not the initiate is strong enough and worthy enough to be a member of the exclusive club,’ Force said. ‘They are not enjoyed so much as endured.’
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: May 2015
Updated: May 2018