Sometimes the spotlight isn’t what it seems. Rebecca Black plunged into the public eye after her song “Friday” became a viral hit in 2011 – but the attention wasn’t all positive.
Black, now 20, penned an emotional essay for NBC News’ Think titled “What I Learned from Being a Target of Internet Hate at Age 13,” which was published on Friday, October 20. In the essay, she opened up about being bullied and the negative backlash she received after her music video went viral. “When Friday went up on the internet, it went crazy,” she wrote. “The onslaught of negative attention I received was so sudden and so intense that I wasn’t sure I would survive.”
The video, which has been viewed more than 110 million times, landed the teen on talk shows and red carpets, but it’s the verbal abuse that was too much to handle, even causing her to become homeschooled.
With October being National Bullying Prevention Month, the singer delved into the reality of cyberbullying. “I will never fully understand how I became one of the first people to experience online bullying in an extremely intense way, but I do know now that what happened to me is truly just a global extension of something that goes on in every school, on every computer screen, and in every neighborhood,” she continued. “Social platforms can really dehumanize the targets of online abuse.”
Black is now using her music platform to speak out against bullying. In the letter she writes, “I’m currently on tour and, talking to so young kids and teens in school, I know now just how common it is to experience bullying, both the kind I knew before my video went viral, and what I experienced after. Today, really young kids are being targeted and it is starting earlier than it did for me.”
The YouTube personality is back in music and released her long-awaited debut EP, RE/BL, this month.