02 September 2012

On cyber bullying and social media experts.

It's late. I've got an article to write, a TV show to watch, and a Twitter chat to participate in. But the awful bullying toward Charlotte Dawson that led to her hospitalisation is still on my mind. I have a few thoughts. I don't want to go into it in detail - so many publications have already.

I don't think the answer to cyber bullying is to switch off the computer or phone. The internet is real life so there's no separation between real life and the virtual world. Talking to people online is real life because we are real people (and nasty online behaviour is so worrying - what are these bullies like without the protection of the screen?). Real people communicating in real time, even the fake profiles.

I feel for the children and adolescents who are on the receiving end of cyber bullying who don't have the adequate coping skills or support networks to handle the bullies.

I really like Bush Babe's post on the topic. You should read it.

People say that if you put yourself out there as a journalist or a blogger, or in the media sphere, you're asking for criticism. To me that's like saying a woman wearing a short skirt is asking for it. Sure online journalists, bloggers and tweeters are open to two way communication, but I think there has to be an agreement for any two way interaction with a person - the agreement may be implicit through responding to polite comments. But often trolls just come uninvited, criticising personal traits and appearance, and not constructively contributing to the online conversation.

I'd also like to see more commenters and experts on social media actually engaging in and understanding social media: most people I know who comment negatively or develop social media policies have never participated in it and are too scared to. This needs to change.

What are your thoughts?


  1. There's never any excuse for behaving in an abusive way towards anyone, no matter how high a profile they may have. The internet makes it so easy for people to behave badly when it's really not that difficult to act like a decent human being. It makes me sad when ordinary people seem to think it's OK to become abhorrent, thanks to a cloak of anonymity.

    1. People hide behind screens too easily. It happens a lot towards women though.

  2. To me the scary/disgusting thing was not the initial bullying (the 'go hang yourself'). Yes, that's repugnant, but we put that down to sad, pathetic, angry losers. No, the scary thing is the response to Charlotte's confronting of the bully & her employer. Cm you believe there are people out there - strangers - who took such exception to Charlotte's action (which I personally applaud) that they too started with death threats?

  3. I agree. There is a lot of victim blaming happening, and a preference to just keep quiet and not take a stand on bullying.

  4. The bottom line is bullying needs to be taken seriously.If you assaulted someone physically the way some people are assaulted verbally you could very well be arrested for it. My rule for online communication is simple - if I wouldn't say it to your face, I won't say it online. When I was growing up I remember people who bullied me when their friends were around trying to act like they were my friend when it was just me and them. They were shocked to find out I had no interest in being their friend. The problem with online bullying, people are egged on, it escalates and they're never asked to take responsibility for their words. Bullies often resort to "I was only kidding." when asked to explain themselves as if that excuses their actions.

  5. People who put themselves out there are definitely not asking for it. Often they're asking for discussion, but people need to behave in a civilised manner & express their differing opinions respectfully. Simple, I think. It's clear when bullying is happening & it's clearly wrong. Agreed, would love to see some social media experts engaging more. Mia Freedman is great like that.
    Heidi xo

  6. Carly, I agree with you about policy makers and commentators not always having first hand experience of the intensity of the cyber world.

    It's much easier to just say 'ban xyz during school hours' or 'just delete your account' than changing legislation to perhaps making people accountable for what they write online. However, if people who are doing the right thing and are respectful of others lose their online anonymity, will this prevent them from being as engaged as they currently are?

    I wish people would just be nice and remember to just treat others as they themselves would want to be treated. Is it that hard?

    SSG xxx

    1. SSG, I'm so with you. When did being nice become such a rare thing.

      I also agree with Carly. Yes we share of ourselves online and are open to communication. But sharing of ourselves should never mean that we are open to abuse. Abuse is abuse weather it is online or in person.

  7. I wish old fashioned manners was instilled in people like it used to be.
    Treat others how you would like to be treated and ...
    If you cant say anything nice then dont say anything at all.
    It worries me what chance we have of helping the problem of school yard bullying when so many adults bully on social media.What kind of examples are they setting for their children.
    Kindness doesnt cost a thing and yet so many find it so hard to give.x

  8. I so agree (as you know Carly)... I don't think we should all stay silent (although I am an expert 'blocker'). No-one 'asks' for this kind of retaliation.

    Would love to see these trolls have their IPs shut down.

  9. I think part of the solution is everyone supporting the people that are being 'trolled'. If the positive commenters clearly outweigh the negative it makes the trolls look stupid.

    I was disappointed with the lack of support Yumi got when she was being abused in the social media. Everyone can have an opinion about whether they thought she acted appropriately or not but no one in their right mind could support the vile comments directed at her.

    Make peace not war.


  10. Bullying is bullying, cyber or otherwise. It's just not on!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. The safest way from cyber bullying is not to disclose your contacts to anyone.Cyberbullying


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