Friday, January 10, 2014

Cyber Bullying -- A Bigger Problem Than We Realize

I have often heard people refer to Facebook as "Not-to-your-face-book." Why would people call it that? Really, if you think about it, people say hurtful things to their "friends" via Facebook that they would never dare say to their face. Same thing with other social networks and blogs. Hurtful comments go back and forth among peers to the point that they destroy their friendships. Many times, there are hurtful comments made on a public forum to complete strangers. Cyber attacks like these happen daily and it's not okay. The definition of Cyber Bullying on Wikipedia is "the use of Information Technology to hurt or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated and hostile manner.... Cyber Bullying could be limited to posting rumors or gossips about a person in the internet bringing about hatred in other's minds; or it may go to the extent of personally identifying victims and publishing materials severely defaming and humiliating them." Is that not what we do to each other via internet when someone does not agree with our opinions??? We personally attack them and anxiously wait for their response so we can continue the ridiculous argument without inserting any kind of emotion. If they attack back, the fight goes on. Sooner or later, other people get in on it supporting one opinion or the other and the hurtful comments, insults and bickering continue. Only growing larger and larger. We have all seen those posts. There are one million likes and 400,000 comments or something crazy. People are tagging each other so that the other person knows that they have responded to what was previously said. I have seen people threaten to go to someone's house and beat the other person up. I have seen people threaten to kill someone. A poor girl had her home address posted online after something she did so that people really could go get her! I have seen people openly defame their friends and family for the world to see. WHEN DID THIS BECOME SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE???????? WHEN DID WE LOSE ALL FEELINGS FOR EACH OTHER??? WHEN DID WE DECIDE THAT WE DO NOT NEED TO BE KIND???? As you can see, I feel very strongly on this. So, so many people have chosen to take their own lives because of Cyber Bullying. It has been common among teenagers. It is also common among adults. 

A little while ago, I was personally attacked on something that I had posted to a Facebook page. What I saw as an opportunity for people to expand their talents, others saw as an insult to what they do. I can't even begin to tell you the hurt and frustration I felt as I read comments that others had made to my post. People who have never met me. People who don't know anything about me. People who had no idea for my intent for the post. People that don't know what kind of feelings their rude comments brought up because of past experiences. People that probably didn't even realize how badly their comments hurt. My poor husband had to listen to me vent out my hurt and my frustrations. Do any of us like to see those we love suffer? Do any of us like to see even strangers suffer? Can we really think that our sly little comments don't affect those that they are directed to?

No matter what we say or do, we will never all have the same opinions. So, why are we going to punish each other? If I remember right, we are actually entitled to said opinions and those that don't agree with us are entitled to their opinions. There is no need to be hurtful in what we say. In fact, I have come up with a list that each one of us should consider before posting something online or before responding to what someone else has said.

1.Will what I have to say impact someone negatively?
2.Will what I have to say create arguments?
3.Am I being kind?
4.Am I willing to lose a friend so that I can try and convince them of how they should believe?
5.If I comment, is it worth getting angry when someone else doesn't agree?
6.Do I really want to build up feelings of animosity over the internet?
7.How would I feel if I was in the other person's shoes reading my comment?
8.How would I feel if a person decided to take his or her own life because of some form of Cyber Bullying?
9.Am I calm and collected as I post online so as to avoid any negativity and bullying?
10.Am I writing with the intent to be hurtful?

I am making a stand against Cyber Bullying and I will do everything I can to help those around me what is really happening. I think that part of the reason that it is so common is because people don't realize that they are being bully's. Just sharing their opinion. And yes, some people do just share their opinions and they don't respond to those that are directed at them positively or negatively. We should be good examples to those around us. Our children and teenagers are looking to how we act. If we put hurtful things on the internet, that will only encourage them to do the same.

As one of my favorite people, Ellen Degeneres, would say, "Be kind to one another."

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