Trash talking on Twitter. Fighting on Facebook. Making nasty comments on You Tube. The reach of cyberbullying seems to be extending no matter how much we try to ignore it.
The term cyberbullying can be loosely defined as "the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviours by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others," (Bill Belsey, Cyberbullying.org). This phenomenon also includes harassing emails, instant messages, blog comments, etc. Basically if it's anything sent electronically that speaks ill of a real person, it's cyberbullying.
The biggest offenders, in my biased opinion, are females. I'm not statistician; but after a quick poll on various social networks, a number of "friends" agree with me. Aside from "sugar and spice, and everything nice," women can also be conniving, vindictive, and quick to pass judgment on others.
Recently a couple of my favorite blogs had to deal with their own share of cyberbullying. Coco & Creme posted a letter to their readers reminding women not to "demean, berate, or chide one another" in response to commenters who got out of hand on an article about plastic surgery. Some mean girls also hit the Fashion Bomb, so much so that there was a discussion about possibly disabling comments on Bombshell of the Day. Nevertheless, freedom of speech prevails.
We've taken the girl fights of high school and brought them to a different kind of battlefield. Bullies can throw punches anonymously online. You can talk as much smack as you want, because the chick you've got beef with lives on the other side of the world. No bloody noses or hair-pulling.
But that's not altogether true. Just like the victim of a real bully, that person can take those taunts personally. That victim may not be able to defend herself against your snarky comments for fear of even meaner tweets. Your bullying can lead to plenty of trips to a therapist, job loss, and perhaps suicide.
So before you click send, post, or tweet, think about the consequences of your actions. That person on the other end of your jeers and taunts is a woman, just like you. She is your sister on this earth. The more you tear her down, the more you tear all of us down.
Food for thought: What's the difference between stating your opinion and being a bully? In what situations can defending yourself make you a mean girl too?
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