Digital Life


The birth of the Internet and social media means that we are now communicating with each other at a rate which has never been seen before. I firmly believe that the Internet and social media’s impact solely depends on individual intent. For me, I see both as a positive entity because it’s enabled me to connect with like-minded people and find a platform to advertise myself as a writer and a blogger.

However, not all is merry. Like most things, there’s good and bad sides, similarly the Internet and social media is often viewed as a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s great to connect with others, get your work out there and generally build an online profile. The flip side is that there are individuals who choose to use and abuse the Internet and social media.

Cyber bullying is the use of technology intended to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner. It can range from receiving abusive messages, people threatening to post rumours or images of you to emotional blackmail. In my opinion, it’s no different to bullying in the workplace or playground. It’s just on a more complicated and sinister platform where you don’t always know who is targeting you. And cyber bullying isn’t just reserved for the young, anyone can be the victim of it.

According to dosomething.org over 80% of teenagers use a smartphone, making it the most common medium for cyber bullying to take place. Many of us have apps that make it easier to go onto social media websites to post pictures and updates on what we’re doing. It also means that whatever is sent to us or tags us can be seen almost immediately.

We enter a bubble of privacy and secrecy when we enter the cyber world – it’s our online life and many find it difficult to translate a cyber life to that of reality because a stark contrast between the two exists. You can pretty much be whoever you want to be in the cyber world, as the American film and popular reality TV program Catfish shows.

I believe that this is where the problem lies. Everything might seem fine in your normal everyday life, until you check your phone and see malicious rumours, threatening messages and posts from someone on social media. It’s confusing and doesn’t seem to add up. As a writer and a blogger, I’ve experienced my fair share of malicious individuals online – it ranged from receiving a death threat to one trying to sabotage my blog and my work. But why is it so difficult to report and stop cyber bullying for good?

Firstly it takes place on the Internet so it’s more difficult to handle – 81% of teenagers said that bullying online is easier to get away with because many victims do not challenge trolls and quietly bear it. They also said that many teachers and schools do not have the awareness or technology ready to combat cyber bullying. However, what cyber bullies don’t realise is that cyber bullying is traceable because there’s evidence. Most schools in London, UK have a Safer Schools Officer who is responsible for the welfare and well being of students both off and online. In addition, if the situation escalates the police can get involved and an ASBO (Anti-Social Behaviour Order) can be given to the bully.

But this doesn’t stop the number of young people committing suicide as a result of cyber bullying. In the USA, suicide has been listed as the third killer of young people. In the UK, statistics show that victims of cyber bullying are 2-9 times more likely to commit suicide. So what can be done to try and combat this?

If you see any evidence of cyber bullying or malicious behaviour, you must report it and do not feel afraid to speak out.

http://www.nationalbullyinghelpline.co.uk/

http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/online-bullying.aspx

http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/about/helpline

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7 thoughts on “Digital Life

  1. A very important issue being tackled here. Yes it is not great that we seem to share so much on the web today, via all sorts of social media, and yes it opens us up to being a target. However no one deserves to be a victim of any form of bullying. Personally I can forgive anyone who “dabbles” in a little bit of “spat” because they don’t really understand their actions. However full proof trolls whose sole aim is to push someone over the edge and destroy their life, need some serious sorting out, physically even in my view. I agree, don’t tolerate and tell someone!!
    Good article.

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    • Agreed, the Internet and social media’s benefits all depend on individual intent. But sadly yes, some people do get targeted by trolls and absolutely, it’s horrible to hear about let alone experience.
      We should never ever feel afraid to stand up for ourselves and seek help. It took me a while to realise that if I don’t ask, a situation cannot improve.

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  2. Chayya the spirit of what you’ve written here is very good, well done. I hope I can add a clarification to reduce some of the confusion your writing could cause. Your structure is roughly:

    1. The internet is good and bad (in terms of having good or bad motives),
    2. Some use it for good motives,
    3. Others use it for bad motives,
    4. Cyber-bullying is one of the bad motives,
    5. Facts to back up point 4,
    6. Getting around cyber bullying.

    I hope I have summarised effectively.

    The net effect of this structure could be a conclusion in your readers’ minds which create a negative feeling towards the internet. Because the logic here is, internet is bad, people are bad, internet makes people bad people worse.

    You have touched on the internet being a place where the bullies can hide. But I feel your writing needed to go further about the internet. So I’d like to make two points:

    1. The internet is a medium, it is soulless, with no value system. There is no good or bad with respect to the internet, it has no motives. Only people have good or bad motives; if the internet was never created, those human motives would still be there.

    2. The internet has done more for education than anything else in history, and there are still many opportunities. I am a firm believer that education is a contributor to enhancing the good and combating the bad. Your article is an example of this; because you are giving fantastic information and advice to help anyone who is a victim of the bad motives of bullies. Part of the reason why anyone is bullying is their inability to empathise with their victim. But eventually bullies will smartened thanks to the internet, their ability to empathise will increase. So I am very sure that the solution is actually in the problem. Inform the bullies using the internet, and the system will self-regulate.

    I hope my comment is useful, keep up the good work.

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    • Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. I agree with most of your points and I agree that the Internet and social media’s impact is solely dependent on individual intent.
      The Internet has made huge leaps with things like education, development of technology and is generally a good force. In this post, I was talking about the other side which many people hear about. It’s a topic that I’m quite concerned about because it affects the way we view each other and ourselves (future blog topic!)
      I appreciate and take on any feedback that will ultimately help me grow and develop into an even better writer; thank you it’s been very very helpful! 🙂

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  3. This is a very well written and equal sided post. I agree the internet and social media is a great way to interact with others, make new friends and share your thoughts, but the internet also has a darker side, as it is also a source for people to bully, taunt and hate. Unfortunately, like you said, teenagers find bullying online easy to get away with, and it’s only on the increase.
    I’m sorry to hear that you yourself have been a victim of cyber bullying, could you expand on your experience? Which social networks did you experience this on?

    I’d really appreciate it if you could visit the blog I share with my friends, take a look at our posts on cyber bullying and leave your thoughts and opinions,

    http://theunsocialmediablog.wordpress.com/

    Thanks!

    Like

    • Hi and thank you for reading my blog! And thank you for your comment as well 🙂
      Agreed, it’s a dark side to social media and the Internet which rears its ugly head. However, it’s important to always have a discussion about this topic as many of us regularly use both and are permanently attached to smart phones, laptops etc.
      Sure, I wrote a blog last year about South Asian women and how certain aspects of social attitudes towards them needed to change. It largely went down well, however, an individual decided to send me a malicious email saying that I’m a disgrace to my culture, my family should have either married me off or disowned me. It was quite shocking, but I managed to track the IP address down and saw it it was thousands of miles away (Mumbai, India).

      Sure I’d love to have a look at your blog – I’ll also follow you so I get your latest posts.

      Thank you 🙂 xx

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      • No worries, it’s nice to read like minded people’s thoughts on the issue of cyber bullying! We are in a day and age now where smartphones, social media and internet usage is always on the rise, so the problem needs to be talked about and tackled as much as possible.

        What an awful message for someone to write to you, it’s not nice to think that someone can be so quick to say such mean things to people they don’t even know.

        Thank you for commenting on our blog, we really appreciate it!

        🙂 xx

        Like

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