Cyber Bullying : A Cause for Concern?
From Facebook to Twitter, from Twitter to an email, from that email to a video, from that video to suicide. This is the unfortunate chain of events that sometimes unfolds as a result of the now very prevalent and very real threat of cyber bullying.
According to the Webster Mirriam Dictionary; supported by Dr. Bill Belsey, cyber bullying is “the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour towards an individual or group, with the intention to cause harm or severe embarrassment.” Therefore, the chain emails teasing an overweight person, the constant jabs at Miss Kitty‘s weight, the sending and sharing of videos which show someone engaged in oral sex, the “grouping up” of various elements on Twitter to tease one person and the blatant invasion of privacy to stream someone having sex; all these things constitute cyber bullying. I’d even go as far as saying the posting of the graphic pictures of the dead is right up there with the afore listed . [A Barbaric Culture : Socializing Tragedy and Posting Graphic Pictures of the Dead]
What fuels this desire in our youth though? What causes us to revel and rejoice in the embarrassment and suffering of others? And even more importantly, why do we onlookers laugh and contribute to the situation? Is it because we do not realize how serious bullying, of any kind, can be?
The latest and perhaps the most clear example of how cyber bullying is dangerous is to be found in the United States. In the privacy of his college dorm a male student was engaged in sexual intercourse with another man and unknown to him his room mate was streaming the entire thing live on the internet. When the student found out his privacy was violated and he was “outed”, he took his life by throwing himself from a bridge. Such was the intense and sustained mocking and pressure he faced, it caused the young man to take his life. The student who streamed the act has since been indicted by a federal grand jury and is awaiting trial.
There is nothing funny about making someone feel alienated and bad about his or her self, there is no excuse for deliberately harassing someone daily. How many of us stop to consider that the overweight person may be battling some genetic condition that has pre determined their weight? How many of us stop to think that by teasing an “ugly” person, we are destroying that person’s sense of self worth? It may sound like I’m exaggerating but I really am not, this is the nature of cyber bullying and this is what it does to a person’s self esteem.
I am not innocent of the things I’ve listed. I have, in the past, laughed when a large faction of the Jamaican population on Twitter decided Miss Kitty ought to be ridiculed for her size. However, I have noted the error in this and I’ve stopped. It is wrong and though I may not have directly teased her, my laughing fuelled those who did/do and therefore I was just as guilty as the person who threw the stone if you will.
And now I speak directly to all of you who bully people on the internet, specifically some of my followers on Twitter. It does not make you “cool” when you do this, your status may be upgraded among those who jeer and participate but what kind of person does it make you if all you can do to be “popular” is tear someone else down? What kind of life do you lead in reality if your time is spent harassing and embarrassing someone on the internet? I’ll tell you what kind of life, a sad and pathetic one. When you project your own sense of inadequacy and your own insecurities on someone else, it doesn’t make you stronger. No. It makes you weak and a coward. It belittles you in the eyes of those who have any sense of right and wrong. When a group of guys can gang up on a girl and tease her, it makes you a boy, not a man. It makes you a pathetic child. Nothing more.
I urge everyone, take a stand against the practice of cyber bullying and whenever it drifts across your timeline on Twitter, into your news feeds on Facebook or into your inbox on yahoo or Gmail, reject and condemn it, because cyber bullying is indeed a real cause for concern. Let us try to stop it.
This entry was posted on April 26, 2011 by Mr. Editor. It was filed under Social Justice and was tagged with Constructedthoughts, Cyber Bullying, Embarrassment, Facebook, Invasion of privacy, Jamaica, Miss Kitty, Suicide, Twitter.