Cyberspace bullies are destroying the internet
This horrible turn of events with Charlotte Dawson proves that bullying isn’t just in the schoolyard.
Bullying can happen in all walks of life, in classrooms, offices, on the streets, in pubs.
And now, bullying follows you home through the internet. It’s very real problem for adults and it’s a problem to which we have not yet found a solution.
So how can we expect our children to take seriously the various cyber bullying programs that have been tried, tested and failed.
When the furore began with Charlotte Dawson a few days ago, I knew that it wouldn’t end well. Of course I couldn’t have predicted that it would end so horribly, but I couldn’t help but feel so much abuse would affect her.
I felt sick inside.
Every time I see the bullies use cyberspace to gang up on a person, that thing we all love about the internet dies a little. That thing that makes it seem like a more free, more creative space than anywhere offline.
Every time someone tries to get control over the social media sphere, the campaign that follows is more hateful than the one before it.
I’m fascinated by online culture. And I’d like to believe that at its best social media can be a source for good. But then something like this happens and it encourages the kind of crackdown and privacy violations envisioned in books like in George Orwell’s 1984.
If you want the internet to be a place that is self governing, then pull your bloody socks up and stop behaving like animals.
As I write this, I am the subject of a Reddit campaign that is designed to “to bring me down”, whatever that means, for tweeting that one of the publications I write for was looking for people who knew the identity of the trolls that harassed Dawson. There are horrible things being written about me on 4Chan, and it’s not pretty.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been public enemy #1 on the internet. When my last trolling story was published, I was the subject of hate mail, even death threats. I too had more than one person suggest I take my own life.
There is an abusive Encyclopaedia Dramatic entry in my honour, calling me a “whore”, “incompetent” and a meme that compares my face to a clown’s anus.
When I tried to have this page shut down, I was unsuccessful. The site’s rules and policies say the founders take no responsibility for the content of the site. They claim to be based in Russia, and that Russian authorities do not recognise defamation as a legal concern.
The site require users to get in touch with the person who posted the page, and that’s a whole other kettle of fish I’d rather not get into. You don’t know who these people are, and what other information they have on you. And then of course you risk drawing more attention to yourself by trying to have these pages removed.
And you wonder why authorities want more control over the online sphere.
The only solution to bullying in the online or offline world is to move away from it. Whether you move away from it or try to have the other person moved is entirely up to you.
So what can you do?
Well, I know you hated it when your parents told you to ignore the kid at school that was picking on you, but in my honest opinion that is the only effective option on offer.
Blocking can be effective too. Try not to give into paranoia. There is virtue in not being able to see what people are saying about you.
When speaking to a leading psychiatrist yesterday for an upcoming news feature he said to me “we truly need to be the change we see in the world.” I know it’s cheesy but it resonated with me.
Because if we don’t want privacy laws introduced that could restrict our online freedom through government monitoring our every move online, we need to pull our thumb out and govern ourselves better.
But if we keep proving time and time again that we are incapable of controlling our behaviour online, law enforcement and government will come and do it for us.
The only thing we can control is our reaction to things, and I’d rather have the go button under my thumb than under the government’s.
Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…