On Cyber-Bullying

During a conversation with Camille Sanzone on the nature of absolutes and truth, which I believe seldom walk hand-in-hand, Camille raised the issue of Cyber-Bullying. That conversation inspired this post, you can listen to it at this link into iHeart Radio’s archives if you’d like a little background.

What is Cyber-Bullying? To me it is just another example of grossly bad and inappropriate behavior. Like “real” bullying, cyber bullies target someone and then relentlessly begin to attack them. Like “real” bullies, cyber bullies don’t back off until they are forced to. To me there is no difference between real bullies and cyber bullies. They both exhibit repulsive character traits, foremost of which is a completely unjustified and misguided feeling of superiority.

Nobody is superior to anybody else. Period.

Everyone gets only one life. That is a simple, irrefutable fact. Every life is as vital, unique, and as precious as every other. I believe that is another irrefutable and ultimately inescapable fact.

Tolerance is a variable, sometimes we should have a lot, and sometimes we should not.

Bullying, regardless of whether it occurs in virtual cyber-space or in our real life, is an example of something for which we should have no tolerance. None at all.

So what can we do about Cyber-Bullying?

A number of things, most of which involve modifying our own behaviors. Let us face it, change always begins within.

The internet is forever. What do I mean by that? I mean that regardless how transient you think something in virtual space is, it has been recorded somewhere. Quite possibly by the NSA. Don’t think the NSA are interested in literally everything you say, regardless of where you say it? Okay, then here is a picture-perfect {it literally has pictures} example of something bullies post and then delete in the misguided belief their abhorrent behavior will go unnoticed, and therefore unchecked.

Once we accept the internet never forgets, addressing cyber bullying becomes much easier. Why? Because we all want to do the right thing, and if our stand for justice and right is recorded forever… Well that is a powerful incentive to do right, isn’t it? Hopefully it is equally powerful in stopping cyber bullies from doing wrong. Unfortunately I don’t think so, as cyber bullies don’t think they are doing wrong, at least until someone shows them.

So show them!

Speak out against Cyber-Bullying. When you witness bullying don’t take the moral coward’s way out and ignore it. Speak out. Call the Bully out for being a bully. Stand up for the victim by putting the bully down.

In the past the expression “to put down” referred to what you’d have done to an animal. You’d take them to the Veterinarian, who would inject them with a powerful sedative that put them to sleep and then stopped their heart. Am I suggesting you kill cyber bullies? In virtual a way, I am. Once you have addressed their behavior, put an end to it by blocking them from ever interacting with you again.  In most social media networks with the click of a button they are dead to you, use that button and effectively kill all further interaction with them.

But what if you are the victim of a cyber-bully? That requires an altogether different tactic. Do not respond. Every time you respond to someone who attacks you online, you are advertising for them. Do you want their name to appear in brilliant overhead lights? No, you don’t. You might think you do, but in reality you want their behavior to stop, and shouting their name to the world encourages them to keep on behaving badly. So don’t reward them by responding. Don’t try and explain yourself, they don’t care. Don’t try and rally support to your defense, though it seldom works it does advertise their name.

Remember the adage “Even bad advertising is good advertising.”  Don’t advertise for bullies by interacting with them.

But I have to do something! Yes, you do, and yes, you can. You put them down. You report them to the social media network their behavior occurred on, and then you block them. Forever. And once that is done, you ignore them. Forever.

Don’t waste your time by spending it on your enemies, waste your time by spending it with your friends.

But what about forgiveness? Do you truly think they’ll change? Do you truly think they’ll care? Sadly, I don’t.

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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