Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Dark Side of Social Media

By David Simms, Senior Contributor

Social Media is where most cyber bullying and harassment take place with the top sites being Facebook and Twitter among others. These websites have exploded in popularity to the extent they have become part of the fabric of our physical existence. It is getting to the point that people spend more time engaged in virtual social media interactions than physical ones, which is proving to be the case for all cultures. Although these platforms originate in the United States, they are just as popular among countries around the world. It is interesting to note that along with social sites coming to other countries, online stalking, harassment, and bullying have in turn escalated. There appears to be a correlation! It taps into that aspect of human nature that has a need to tear down others we view as threatening or whom we do not agree with in some way.  

The tendency to attack others for whatever reason has always been there. In many cases we choose not to act on destructive thoughts and actions for fear of what might happen to us in return. However through the medium of the internet, this fear is not a factor. Now, through the internet, hateful and violent behaviours can be expressed much more easily and without the risk of physical confrontation. In a relatively short time, it is becoming the new acceptable standard in dealing with personal and relationship issues with others and is becoming more apparent especially in younger generations. Some might argue this negative trend is being encouraged by the social media providers themselves. I might have to agree. Social media makes it extremely difficult for victims of cyber hate to protect themselves or have any recourse against those attacking them. It is already a problem in the United States but it is particularly difficult for those with a different cultural paradigm.  For example, in many countries what would be considered moderately dressed for a woman in American is considered blasphemous and punishable by death.  Yet these American-based social media providers offer protection according to their own cultural views. The extreme disconnect with platforms like Facebook and Twitter have provoked countries such as China, North Korea, and Iran to ban them from use by their citizens.