There are a number of abusive behaviours that I’ve noticed are much too frequently swept under the rug and accepted in society as the normal. They are often seen as nothing more than ‘a bit of banter’ or ‘joke’, but are in fact extremely harming. Cyber Abuse is one of them.
Social Media is a platform where I often see abuse occur more often than actual socialising. Daily a scenario plays out where I will be scrolling through my Facebook or Twitter news feeds and in a number of minutes come across a post attacking or ‘having a go’ at another, or a thread of comments where 3, 4 or even more people are arguing back and forth using vile language I can never quite picture escaping from their lips. Conversations can easily get out of hand, with comments quickly turning threatening and/or slanderous, e.g.
AN: She needs a reality check
CC: She needs more than that (1 like)
(In reply to another comment)
SS: That’s f***ing disgusting someone wants to help him tie a rope around his neck
Twitter, with it’s famous 140-character limit, is the ultimate forum for posts along the lines of,
03.01.15. I really f***ing hate you
13.01.15. Go f*** yourself
Something to remember is that all of these ‘rants’ or posts are there for everyone to see, and this abuse being so public means it is not only is an attack on who the comment is aimed at, but can be influential to all others who view it. Also, with the Like, Reply, Retweet and Favorite buttons, followers are only one small click away from becoming a bystander and contributor to the abuse. Many people I’ve spoken to about the topic of Cyber Abuse/Bullying don’t see liking or sharing their opinion on a derogatory status that much of a big deal, and again the phrase, ‘its just banter’ comes up a lot. I notice this happening with myself too sometimes, I could be messaging someone and although I may not be telling them to kill themselves or cut, if I ever ‘jokingly ‘say things like, ‘slut’ or ‘bitch’ I really do have to question whether or not that is something I would say to their face.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently, about if she’d ever been victim to Cyber Abuse, and she said, ‘nope never’. I asked her if she was sure, and received a similar answer. Then I asked the question, ‘So you’ve never been called a name online?’ To this she replied that of course she has – ‘everyone has!’ Following this I asked a number of people the same question and the conversation played out almost identically… So what exactly is Cyber Abuse? There seems to be a multitude of different understandings towards what it really is, but the more common term used for mistreatment online is Cyber-bullying, and the definition is as follows:
Cyber-bullying is the use of cell phones, instant messaging, e-mail, chat rooms or social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to harass, threaten or intimidate someone.
Harassment: Aggressive pressure or intimidation.
Due to the normalisation of online activities such as making intimidating, sexually pressurising, or threatening comments, many people do not quite realise that they are being abused when it’s happening to them. And if we keep allowing such hateful activity online, what will the ‘norm’ become next?
Although playground fights, verbal bullying and sexual harassment are still commonplace, I’ve noticed that most if not every disagreement carried out in school or during the day is then further continued over the Internet and often escalates. Many use the ability to hide behind their phone/computer as an excuse of irresponsibility, and having anonymous access to hundreds, thousands even millions of people with a few quick clicks makes it the perfect platform to bully and abuse.
You may read this and realize you are being or have been cyber abused, and the question may arise in your mind of, ‘well what do I do?’ You are not alone in this, as over half (52%) of young people have been in your situation themselves. But speaking of the Internet, it does have its perks; there are hundreds of articles about this topic, and people you can contact if ever in doubt of what to do. Alongside the Favourite and Like buttons, do not forget the infamous ‘BLOCK AND REPORT’, which is sometimes simply the best way to go if anything ever goes wrong. And by standing up to the abuse, you are changing what is acceptable, and changing what is the ‘norm’.
TAKE ACTION – Help find out how the Internet is truly used, and put cyber abuse to an end:
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.