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Ox’s social media advice: ‘If it is causing you harm, walk away from it’

Essendon gun David Zaharakis has revealed the emotional toll which online abuse can have on the modern footballer and has pleaded with footy fans to think before they post.

Speaking on Channel 9’s Footy Show after St Kilda announced that star player Jack Steven would be taking an indefinite break from the game while he deals with mental health issues, Zaharakis reminded viewers that footy players are people too.

“You’ve obviously got to take the human element into it,” he said.

“We’re professional footballers but we are humans also. I think a lot of people these days [suffer from mental illnesses]. I’ve got a personal account of it, someone in my family suffers from mental health [struggles].

“It’s something that’s always going to be there in society and footballers aren’t immune from that. It’s great that [Jack Steven] has taken leave from the game to get himself right.

“Hopefully for him, he can get time away and recoup and come back a better person and a better player.”

Speaking on Macquarie Sports Radio, former Melbourne Demons star David ‘Ox’ Schwarz said it takes a thick skin to be a public figure on social media.

“If you can’t fathom hearing things about you that you don’t agree with, there is no way that you would be getting involved with this, step away and don’t even look at social media,” he said.

“If it is causing you harm, walk away from it, many people don’t need it, you don’t have to have it,

“I’m not big on social media, I don’t have a Facebook account, I have a twitter account which I use to receive information but I might tweet only 2 or 3 times a year,

Ox, an ambassador for Brodie’s Law Foundation whose mission is to raise awareness of the issue of workplace bullying and help prevent it, says online bullying is especially pervasive because the offenders are in your pocket and always with you.

“It’s amazing how many young people feel the affects of what bullying online does to them,

“It follows you.”

Click PLAY to hear more from Ox and Matt Granland: