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Cyber-bullying : The "good", the bad and the ugly

Image courtesy of http://www.digitalesq.com/
Cyber-bullying is defined as the willful and repeated use of cell phones, computers, and other electronic communication devices to harass and threaten others. With the advent of social media, the incidents has increased in numbers and the victims does not even know what is hitting them. For the past years, we have heard of  depressions and deaths because of this. Yet, there has never been a strong drive to increase public awareness and promote support groups to help victims outside of the schools.  Campaigns and programs has never gained mainstream presence enough to make an impact.

The "Good"

Does cyber-bullying really have some good to offer? Before you start sharing this post and say "look at this guy promoting cyber-bullying", let me clear things up. In its real context, there are no good thing that comes from it. It should not be tolerated and it should be stopped. However, in the Philippines, I have seen how this can indirectly bring some "good" results.  With all the the corruptions taking place in all corners of the country, the common people found a new way to expose it. Gone were the days when red tapes puts your complaints into a state of being forgotten. The best way to do it now is through social media and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is leading the way. Heard about a police or traffic officer doing "kotong"? Post it on the social media. How about a government official doing "monkey" business while on the job? Bring out your phone , take a snap and post it. How about guys who belittles someone or flashes a gun while in a heated argument due to traffic? Snap  and post. How about thieves and robbers caught on CCTV? Share the video and make it viral. It has been so easy to do this anytime and anywhere. Is this bullying? Indirectly it is, the person in focus never have the chance to air his side before you go ahead and destroy his/her personality. We know for a fact that some of this post may not be totally true and some were misinterpreted. So back to the discussion, in a way, through these actions, we are sending a message to everyone that they could not just do anything they want that can harm others because everyone is watching. Everyone is a witness waiting to snap a photo or record a video of you doing the "deed". With just a hit to the "share" button, you become the talk of the town. Now, do you ever want that? Hell, no. While I like the idea, these things when done with malicious intent will never yield a good result. 

The Bad


Everything about cyber-bullying is bad. It causes emotional pain, fear, rejection , shame, guilt , depression and worst, unwanted death. There are many reasons why bullying happens and it does not only happen in school, as some of the articles in the internet would emphasize.Cyber-bullying happens everywhere, in the office, in the neighborhood or even between friends and circles. In fact cyber bullying in the workplace has been a topic of some articles around (see sample articles here, here and here) .The effect of it is multiplied by the lack of support systems for some victims. While others are lucky enough to have friends and family's to talk to. Others simply keep quiet and take it for themselves.   As I can see it right now, most of the efforts concentrated on school incidents mainly due to the fact that teens and kids deserves more support on dealing with the issue. However, adults are also subjected to it. They may not be too open to discuss about it or they simply ignore them. While ignoring it sounds encouraging, continuous exposure  to  cyber-bullying can lead to an eventual breakdown if not mitigated at the start. There is still a long way to go.  Schools may have slowly addressing these issues with sets of plans and programs but outside of schools, I don't see much effort to deal with it.

The Ugly

The ugly thing about cyber-bullying is the emergence of  the internet and social media coupled with mobility through smartphones. The more we progress with technology, the more we have easy access to information. Information that are true, maybe true and worst of all, untrue. Any one can use it to spread news and lies. There are no dedicated agencies to filter out information on the internet. Policing is never possible, it cant be done. I can make up stories about a man I despise , put up some manipulated images or video to back it up and within minutes the personality of that person is doomed. Cyber-bullying material can spread quickly, be difficult to delete and be created by anonymous users. Worst of all, people are easily swayed by emotions. They easily buy stories and spreads them like its the next big thing. Being bullied by a person or a group of person can be tolerable to some, but being bullied by the so called "netizens"? You can never win.

Most of us may have been a victim, unknowingly. No one is safe from it. Make a false move, someone can just click away and within minutes, you are being harassed by groups of people  that you don't even know. Again, this is  not a teen or  a kid problem, it can happen to anyone. While the article's title may be misleading. There is no way I am supporting these kind of activities. Great thing  there are some organizations (i.e. Cybersmile.org, Stompoutbullying.org) that are stepping up and we should support their initiatives.
  

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