We have reached a stage in our civilization where bad intentions are instantly materialized. Using social media websites to post abusive content about other people is a modern menace and it is also quite ‘in your face’ kind of menace. Cyber-bullying on Twitter and Facebook comes in all forms right from the teenage banters to official taunts. In extreme cases these things can lead up to spontaneous violence and premeditated crimes. Mental and physical bullying by way of social media can happen any time to anyone. Students are the biggest victims of cyber bullying So when did social media become this loathsome place? Social sites were meant to be an online place where people can connect with friends, family or co-workers.
Freedom of Speech with bad intentions
Internet speech can be rude and crude, more so than our real-life interactions, it’s just because of the psychological distance from the people we are talking to and their unpredictable reactions. That separation can sometimes be unbinding. Although, it’s also a good thing that people online can express what they think and speak out freely, especially against injustice that they face in their daily life but it’s also not fair to subject people to public trial on social media. People these days find a strange satisfaction in pelting stones just because others are doing the same. The shocking revelation is that sometimes people take matters in their hand and that is a twisted sense of freedom. Personally, I am more of a ‘sticks and stones’ kind of person but not all are strong…and certainly not all the time. Moreover, it is observed that often public hazing and controversy is a well thought of activity to incite violence. Pressure groups, terrorist organizations and fundamentalists always seem to be benefiting from this corrupted concept of free speech. Misuse of freedom is and always has been the cause of freedom lost.
Lack of Dependable Role Models
Haven’t you noticed how easily these days famous people get caught into the maelstrom of bad publicity? Yes, Social bullying does not only affect the teenager and average Joe but it goes on to a different level when celebrities get trolled. Public figures have a very vulnerable personal life and more they fight to defend their privacy, more cruel the gossip mongering people become. Sometimes celebrities are pushed to the deep side of depression and the outcome is not so glamorous. Recent incidents involving late Hollywood actor Robin William’s (Mrs. Doubtfire) daughter Zelda William who was bullied by group of people made her to quit social media. This shows how people can be incentive to even a recently deceased person’s relatives. That’s crazy! When tennis player Maria Sharapova accidentally (or intentionally) said that she not know who Sachin Tendulkar is, the ex-cricketer’s fans filled her social profiles with abusive messages. I mean, I get it you eat, sleep and dream Sachin but come on, get a life!
For most people it’s just a good laugh
Jimmy Kimmel does a series of videos about cyber bullying. His idea is to make some celebrities read tweets about themselves which are mean and at times abusive. Well, although its a fun idea but that’s what it is, its enjoyable to hear the celebrities read mean tweets targeting themselves. That’s walking the fine line. I am not sure whether that’s supposed to stop it or encourage it? Surely Jimmy doesn’t seem to care…
There’s even an President Obama version…
But things get serious and a lot more worrisome when the actual situation is assessed. Here are some videos made in the theme of Jimmy Kimmel’s mean tweets videos but show the grim realities of teenage bullying. The laughing just stops!
Trolling and the demise of Positive Deniability
It seems, bullying has become a main skill of the social network users, and it’s the thing which can ruin both lives and livelihoods. Now, who’s responsible for it — the person engaging in the behavior or the person tolerating it — it basically depends upon whom you ask first. At its worst, social media is a weapon to damage reputation, spread rumors, cause paranoia, cyber-bullying, and casual madness on a scale never before possible. People are loosing the deniability that sometimes is necessary to preserve the sanity. If everything is constantly reported on social media and not doing so is considered suspicious or regressive, then we are in for some very bad decisions. Disruptive influence of peer pressure in the ‘selfie’ generation is just an example.
Legal framework needs to accommodate newer forms of violations
Old world governments can’t update at the same rate as the evolving technologies and the changing modes of communications but sooner or later the law catches up. Cyber laws must be strengthened to tackle these issues and for that a better understanding of the situation is needed. Government should consult with technology and social experts to formulate better prevention programs. Punishment is secondary. Sure, if you’re found bullying or ragging, you may face jail time but it can not repair the terrifying effects. The first steps will have to be taken by the people themselves. Some simple measures can discourage the situations from escalating such as:
• Immediately block that person who is abusing you.
• Avoid adding or connecting with unknown person(s).
• Do not share your personal daily info, pics with everybody on social profiles.
• Use visibility filters to restrict profile content.
• Collect evidence and then report about it.
• If you are being threatened then don’t panic. Speak to someone you can trust.
Social media platforms should take such cyber-abuse seriously and that means they’ll have to look beyond trolling and spamming. Online bullying among kids and students can lead to critical situations like suicides – especially if the victims already suffers from low self-esteem. This is not at all the case of freedom of speech being blocked. Freedom of Speech comes with responsibilities that justifies that freedom.