I mentioned yesterday that today was a Stop Cyberbullying Day and I have quite a bit more to say about this now that I’ve had some time to formulate in my head what I want and need to get out. But first a bit of background as to why this event came about.
I also mentioned Kathy Sierra yesterday. I had only read her blog a few times when I’d been linked there and she seemed like a swell gal with some great ideas and posts pertaining to community/userbase building in the blogesphere. Most recently I had read her Devil’s Advocate post about Twitter. (Because I love all things Twitter. I’d even use the word ‘addiction’ but more on that later.) When I was linked to her site last week from a post that Cincyli wrote I was flabbergasted. When did it suddenly become okay to post such horrible things about people online? To photoshop pictures of them with a noose, or gagged with women’s panties?! I agree with her reaction, wholeheartedly. It’s disgusting and sick and so beyond what is thought of as “okay” by anybody that has any amount of decency.
I think the problem with the Internet is anonymity. When you can throw rocks at somebody while nameless and faceless you feel much more powerful. And to me, at least in my own case of cyberbullying, that’s the goal. To feel like you have some kind of power over people. I haven’t addressed my cyberbully on my blog at all. To me, to publicly address him, is to give him the power he desires. I have the power and this is my way of dealing with it.
This doesn’t mean that I’m not very thankful and sympathetic to what Kathy is going through and I applaud her for dealing with it in the best way she see’s fit and for drawing some much needed attention to the matter. My bully hasn’t ever made an actual threat against me but believe me, if it ever came to that I’d be in contact with lawyers and police with a quickness.
The big thing that I have seen and been disturbed by is the willingness of other people to ‘look the other way’ when they see it happening. They continue to allow these offenders to comment and participate in a community even though they see cyberbullying going on. They have the attitude that if it’s not happening to them, they don’t care. This is where the blog community has faltered. If EVERYBODY stood up and said ‘What you are doing is not okay, and you are not welcome’, I think this problem would be greatly reduced. The bullies would lose that power they are trying so hard to maintain.
P.S. – Also, check out Kami Watson Huyse’s blog. She has a great post today about the effect that cyberbullying has on kids and teens beyond the blogging realm. I’m scared to think about the world that my own daughter is going to grow up in with the Internet making it so easy to anonymously attack your peers.