Monday, February 16, 2015

Cyberharrassment and bullying is not a myth.

By Abigail Clarke: Contributing Content Blogger

I happened upon an article the other day trying to downplay cyberharassment and bullying. It claimed to be dispelling cyber harassment myths as if these myths were recognised as established. Not so. The article asserted that one of the most common myths is people being turned into cyberbullies by using social media. To me, this seems absurd. Of course nobody is claiming social media itself creates cyberbullies. The creation of a cyberbully mentality starts well before someone becomes acquainted with social media.  Social media is merely the conduit, not the cause.  The article then went on to make the token reassurance that there aren’t as many cyber harassers on the web as it may seem and that a “techno-panic” has been created to give people the impression the problem is much worse than it actually is. Well I disagree. The problem is indeed much worse than most realise and we are seeing dramatic increases in activity not the reverse.  This appears to be more due to the ease at which the Internet can be accessed these days as well as the amount of personal information available that can be exploited against victims.  It is also due to the pervasive element of anonymity that is intrinsic to the nature of online activity. The ability to express latent anger and rage at others without accountability, creates the cyberharasser, not the websites hosting it.  This is not to say social media sites are free from blame, they are enabling the problem.  But we definitely mustn’t be lulled into thinking cyber harassment is not as bad as it seems.  It most certainly is, which most people having any experience on social media can tell you.