Online Bullying?

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Pushing my buttons!

Is social networking getting too social or is online bullying easier as a result of Twitter and Facebook? If you’re anything like me and millions of other people in 2011, you have a twitter account, a facebook page, and multiple email addresses. Maybe, like me, you also take it a step further and blog, have a website or two, and are a text messaging whor, ahem, addict.

So why, of all people, would I question whether social networking is too social or whether online bullies exist? I do tend to stir things up by pushing hot buttons on my blog and in my poems so who’s to say I’m not a bully. Well since this is my party and I’ll cry if I want to, I am here to say I’m not an online bully, and social networking isn’t too social. It’s all in how you receive what’s in cyberspace, what you put out into this space, what you need, and in what is representative of you. Oh and I’m not an online bully. Why am I so sure? Because I’ve been asked some very personal, upfront, and even rude questions in response to my messages via Twitter (aka tweet for the twitter newbies reading this) and a few via Facebook, which I have deemed “bully-like”….none of which I’d ever dream of doing to another person. For example, I’ve been asked if I’ve “gone lesbo” because of an avatar (picture) change on Twitter in which I’m sporting a Fedora-styled hat that I love, a white shirt, a tie, and a semi smile. I was also asked if I think fags will be allowed into heaven after I tweeted about HRC’s fight for equality on several occasions.

Not only is my sexual orientation of interest and under attack, so are my opinions on race. I have been asked via a DM (direct messages that are only visible between me and the sender) and through private inbox messages on Facebook, if I hated white people, if I would stop riding Obama’s dic* (in response to saying that Sarah Palin is a nincompoop), and was even reprimanded for criticizing African-Americans’ judgment and morality. While I would love to address the comment, I can’t pinpoint where it stemmed so I’ll leave it alone. Oh, and no, I don’t hate white people. Well, I really, very much, strongly dislike Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin, but other than tha…oh yeah, and Glenn Beck, but no, I don’t hate white people at all. Hell, while this mixed mutt of a race thinks that all shades of brown are beautiful, loving one type, person, or thing doesn’t mean you hate the opposite and I wish some people would get that. Some of my closest friends are white, for gosh sake! (Yes, I’m being facetious here – please don’t call me a white basher)

So with that being said, one may speculate that this is my punishment for saying Palin’s a nincompoop (yeah, I slid it in again) and for putting myself out there, so to speak, on my thoughts about equality, etc. After all, if I didn’t want feedback, I should keep my mouth, errr, messages, silent.

Well yes, and no. While some people on my Twitter timeline (the display of messages from people I follow), are real-life friends, most are not. Tweeting 140 character snippets about life for years, even, does not a best friend, sister, brother, priest or enemy make. Look, I enjoy being able to communicate with multitudes of people from my own backyard to countries around the world about random stuff, important stuff as well as get into a discussion in which my opinion isn’t favored. That’s the beauty of this Internet thing – it shrinks the World and helps humans connect so we know we’re not alone in this life.

So why would anyone want to spend time making others miserable, or try to tear down the fight for equality in any form, or attack strangers? I guess online bullies do exist and they are out there just waiting for your next status update or tweet to set their creepy, little knubby coal lump of a heart all aglow and flame you with a rude and un-called for response.

  1. Mrq45 says:

    Another great topic. While the internet is a social tool, internet communication doesn’t adhere to social norms. The perceived anonymity of a profile is what allows people to behave in boorish ways, much like you described. In a normal social environment, the comment about the fedora most likely would not have been made, simply because it’s rude & against social norms. While there are “trolls” or people that actively seek opportunities to spread negativity on the internet, I feel that the average tweeter/blogger is just a regular person that feels a bit less inhibited given their ability to “hide” behind a profile.

    • MrQ45: Hey there, my friend!! I agree – I think most tweeters, bloggers, etc. are regular people who feel less inhibited. I also agree that there’s less encouragement to be polite or at least, less rude online. I find it interesting to hear what people really think about many topics and that’s what I see as the true beauty of online communication. However, it’s just plain rude to try and start fights or do any form of name calling. Who knows, maybe the same so-called online bullies just aren’t being held accountable for his/her actions and as such, feel free to offend, even intentionally, due to a lack of consequence and getting some small joy out of hurling insults. Either way, I think someone who’s rude should be confronted. If there’s no change, the beauty of twitter and facebook is that you can block the rude bastards! 🙂

      As always, thank you for the insight and feedback!

  2. Terry says:

    I agree with Mrg45. The anonymity of the internet allows people to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t. Like alcohol is said to give liquid courage, the internet gives cyber courage. if standing toe to toe with a person they wouldn’t dare utter the same words!
    On the other hand, for the person that feels bullied, there is a simple solution. LOG OFF. It says a lot about the person that CONTUNUES to be bullied online when it can all be stopped by the click of a button.

    • Hey Terry!! 🙂 Ha, I love it – cyber courage. I think I’ll have to use that somewhere soon…

      I bet you’re right – if the flamer or rude person were standing toe to toe, they probably wouldn’t have the same attitude or comments. That’s exactly why I called it bullying because a bully almost always doesn’t want a fair fight and will pick on a seemingly smaller or weaker person.

      True again, if comments & tweets, etc are causing that much pain, there is the option to log off. While I agree it’s the less painful approach, I think of it as “taking the long way home along old rusty train tracks instead of the short pleasant path that lines up with the beautiful view and roses” to avoid the school bully. Someone who’s intentionally mean should be called on their crap. If they don’t stop, that’s why blocking is an option, as is removing from list of Facebook friends, etc. But overall you’re right – one resort is to avoid the issues and stand up for yourself. Says a lot about someone who just takes whatever’s dished out and doesn’t fix the problem. Unless you’re into pain…and well, that’s a different post for a different day 😉 lol

      Thanks for your feedback! I appreciate you!!

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