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?