Meghan Markle knows firsthand how cyberbullying can affect a person's mental state.
The Duchess of Sussex opened up about her experience during a recent episode of the Teenager Therapy podcast, hosted by a group of high school students from Anaheim, California. Markle, who was joined by her husband, Prince Harry, began by touching on the ways the coronavirus lockdowns have led to more digital screen time, which increased the risk of more online harassment.
"If you're not in school, then you're finding yourselves on your devices or online more, and there's a lot of vulnerability there that I think so many people are experiencing there," Markle said (4:25). "Yes, it's a great way to connect, but it also ends up being a place where there's a lot of disconnection."
Markle said she was reportedly the "most trolled person in the entire world" in 2019, which was especially surprising as she rarely made public appearances that year.
"Eight months of that, I wasn’t even visible. I was on maternity leave with a baby but what was able to be manufactured and churned out ― it’s almost unsurvivable," she said "... That’s so big you can’t even think of what that feels like. Because I don’t care if you’re 15 or if you’re 25, if people are saying things about you that aren’t true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging."
Last year, the Royal Family announced it was cracking down on social media harassment aimed at Markle, following a surge of racist attacks across different platforms. As pointed out by Mercury News, the family's staff began using software that would delete posts and block accounts that were targeting Markle. The program also filtered out racial slurs as well as emojis that suggested violence, specifically knives.
"So from my standpoint and for the work that we do is that from my personal experience and be able to talk to people and understand that even though our experience is unique to us and obviously can seem very different from what people can experience from day to day, it's still a human experience and that's universal. We all know what it feels like to have our feelings hurt, we all know what it feels like to be isolated, and I think that's why the work you guys are doing here it's so important."
The episode premiered Saturday in honor of World Mental Health Day. You can listen to the full Teenager Therapy episode on Spotify or via YouTube above.