Tuesday, 16 October 2012

cyber bullying: a response

This post is a reaction to this news story.

As someone who was severely bullied in secondary school, in a systematic way by the general populace of the school, I hate to think what would have happened if social media had existed back then. If I could never have escaped to a safe plac
e because they could reach me in my home, on my phone, tag me, manipulate images of me, exploit my vulnerability, film my breakdowns and post them online.

I doubt I'd have made it through.

But one thing I learned from my school experience was how a mass of bullies is not the same thing as individual tormentors with a specific grudge, most people are just casually adding a tiny thing, but like water torture the cumulative effect becomes unbearable. By educating all the secondary people, by explaining to people the results of their casual actions we can help to stop this kind of thing. For me the taunts were in the real world, in the virtual world people are even less likely to understand the results of their actions. They can just click like and they add to the burden of someone's emotional torture.

But even the specific people who bully, the ringleaders if you like, are people with complex reasons for their behaviour and they are also children and should be protected. The kind of eye for an eye bastardness that is currently being perpetrated by anonymous is THE SAME THING. This is not the way to combat this.

Bullying is a hard thing to combat anyway, in the real world or online, and perhaps we can't hope to eliminate it. But since we can't we should at least turn our efforts to explaining to children that it get's better, not just for our LGBT youth but for all of us. Not in an easy or guaranteed way perhaps, and it is easy to dismiss such positivity as hollow, but it can get better and it does get better because school is not the world, who we are at school has little or no relationship to who we will be as adults. For me it got better and for Amanda Todd and others like her it could have got better. Let's do what we can to let our young people know this!

That's why I support initiatives like the It Gets Better Project. But let's remember that bullies are also children.

Sorry if this is long and garbled and raw.