When people talk about bullying the majority of us automatically think of schoolyard abuse / scuffles but with the explosion of the internet over the last few years bullying has taken on a whole new form.
I suffered at the hands of bullies as a child so it is something I feel strongly about. It seems that now bullying is so much easier with the internet and the explosion of social networking sites. If you call someone out on their behaviour more often than not they will claim they were only joking, that you shouldn't take things so seriously. I have to ask the question would they be so brave to speak to you like that in real life? I would hazard a guess probably not.
Bullies can now get away with complete anonymity, if clever enough - some are quite dumb using their real names on open profiles! The assassination of your character can take place with a few strokes of the keyboard by people who dont know you.
Its not just confined to young people anymore, bullying seems to be on the rise. Just look at any celebrities twitter stream, the abuse is rampant. Pop your head above the parapet, stick up for what you believe in and you will find yourself in the trolls crosshairs. As I found out when I dared to complain about the waiting time for spinal surgery at the hospital my mother attends.
I am a 40 year old woman not a child and I have found some peoples behaviour online deeply offensive and upsetting. Unfortunately that was the person's sole aim. What I really dislike are the passive aggressive trollers who lurk on your contacts list whose main purpose in life is to bring you down. They don't last long on any of my accounts.
I don't delete without warning unless I have been really annoyed and several private chats have been ignored. I give far too many chances to people who really don't deserve them and end up being drawn into the vicious cycle of niceness, followed by putting the boot in.
I am endeavouring to get my head around the fact why some people feel the need to turn into nasty keyboard warriors. I am all for a good debate but too easily online it can turn into a bitchfest at best and outright threatening behavior at worst. I have been quite lucky so far although I have sometime been shocked at the sheer vitriol spewed by some towards me, I have never felt personally threatened.
I also struggle to understand why such nastiness gains such support amongst other people who seem to engage in a herd mentality picking someone off on the "facts" provided by one person. Who does that and why? It seems independent thought is something only a few people possess these days.
The saddest thing of all is it seems to be grown woman who seem to indulge in this pastime more than anyone else. In an age where women have advanced in the world reaching new heights in business and education, there seem to be some women who enjoy nothing more than tearing other women down. What drives these people to attack others jealousy, insecurity? I dont believe that anyone is born nasty its something they develop due to their environment. In all honesty I feel terribly sad for them.
People seem to be very quick to jump on the bandwagon without stepping back first and assessing all the facts. If you didn't witness the event and have no evidence to prove what someone is saying, then shouldnt it be taken with a pinch of salt? Individuals seem to throw caution to the wind with the statements they make online, that can never be retracted.
Its very difficult to hide from an online bully, you block them from all your online profiles and they set up multiple accounts to catch you out and post abuse. I am tired of the cat and mouse aspect of it all. I see multiple accounts as almost an indication of a multiple personality.
I am not alone in facing abuse online, friends of mine have been hounded off social media by people they considered "friends" or contemporaries simply because their views did not fit in with how the other person sees the world. I have been deleted and blocked by people simply because of my political beliefs. I have had the same treatment because I am friends with people the other person doesn't like. Surely the question is "wouldn't it be a boring old world if we all held the same beliefs and opinions?"
It also falls into the realm of censorship, you stop posting / tweeting things because you are scared of the reaction it will provoke. I am all for free speech as long as it does not incite hatred towards other individuals or groups. However I have noticed myself hesitating from posting about my illness on my main facebook page due to negative messages I have received. I now keep my "moaning" (as it was described by someone I considered a dear friend) to my Myasthenia Kid page because the people that follow that really want to know how I am doing.
I do believe its wrong to feel the need to sanitise what you want to post / tweet just because of a few individuals. I am not alone in this I have had friends attacked for posting about a bereavement, having cancer or simply wanting to express their honest opinions about a subject close to their hearts. There are still subjects that I censor myself on why? If its my page / account why do I have to be afraid if its something I believe in?
It seems to me that the internet has encouraged those who seek power by destroying others. It is as if we haven't evolved from the playground at all. If this is how adults act towards each other what example are we setting for the next generation?