The single greatest and most important event in the history of humankind, in this humble writers opinion, is the ‘invention’ of the internet. It has turned a world, which for so long was so vast and wide and everywhere else was ‘far away,’ into a world that is tiny; where every human being is no more than a click away from any other human being alive.
Where is the news? On the internet. Where is our entertainment? On the internet. Where are our friends and family? Speaking to me on the internet. Where is the answer to almost any question or query we can conjure up? On the internet.
Where do the depraved, the angry, the vicious, the vile, the nasty roam freely? On the internet.
We know all about the dangers of the internet, or think we do. This piece is not about the medias favourite villain; the pedophile. No, this is about the less scary sounding, but equally dangerous, BULLY! Or cyber-bully if you will.
I am a huge fan of forums and discussion boards where people can, in theory, talk about anything under the sun with like minded people and have either an enjoyable time discussing the best ways to grow your Sunflowers, or get into a heated debate on the pros and cons of nuclear power. This is free speech at its finest. Where everyone has a voice and is allowed to use it freely and constructively if possible. However, not everyone out there seems to understand what free speech is.
Free speech is not an open forum to bully, intimidate, ridicule and push down someone just because it gives you some sort of power trip. Across the world today, especially among young people in social media, cyber-bullying is something that is almost impossible to control and keep an eye on. Bullying in general is often hard to spot and stamp out, but when they persons being bullied can’t even hide in the privacy of their own bedroom! Well, this is a crime of the highest order.
When I was young I experienced what I would call ‘mild bullying’ in school by both the pupils and the teachers. For most kids it might not have been too bad, but I was generally speaking, more sensitive to words and actions than most. It didn’t take much to upset me. This is not a negative trait by any means because I’ve grown into an adult with a large amount of empathy for people as a whole (even if my empathy comes out as anger towards aggressors). But it shows that not all of us are the same and what might be considered friendly banter by some, is hurtful to someone else.
It’s a good thing I’ve toughened up quite a bit as an adult because some of the things I read on discussion forums (they are upsetting for sure) had I heard those things said about me when I was younger, well, I can’t say for sure how I would have reacted. It’s almost as if for some people, when they get onto a computer in the privacy of their own home, they feel they have a right to turn into some sort of monster that can insult, ridicule and abuse other people without any consequences. And I don’t mean as a result of a heated discussion. But to just pick someone at random it seems, and abuse and abuse and abuse and abuse … and then just turn off their computers and go to sleep????
I feel so sorry for some of the kids in todays world. I could escape a bad school day by coming home and being surrounded by people I loved. This was before mobile phones and home computers. Now, these kids have no escape. The bullying continues with text messages; abuse on social media; abuse in online forums. Not only are they being attacked, but they are being attacked, potentially, in front of the WHOLE WORLD! No wonder so many young people are taking their own lives. When they think that even if the whole world is not abusing them, they are seeing it happen and not helping them to stop.
Please, be you young or old, but the next time you feel like saying something to someone in a moment of anger, remember, if you wouldn’t say it to their face like a real person, then don’t get brave behind a keyboard.
And if you are one of those people who just goes online and gets kicks out of attempting to destroy random peoples moral and spirit, well, you are who I feel sorry for most. You are the loneliest person in the world.