Monday, November 8, 2010

What Makes a Cyber Bully?

Overcome with humiliation and shame, a college student ends his own life after his single flirtation with gay sex is exposed on the internet. At about the same time, a teenage girl is accused by a friend on facebook of being "ugly," and after failing at her own attempt at suicide, she enters into psychological treatment and counseling to repair her shattered ego. These and numerous other incidents of cyber bullying take place within a social network where popularity and status is viewed as a zero-sum game, and one person rises in stature by driving down the reputation or image of someone else. There is additional power in the ability to electronically communicate the slander and negativity to the entire world.

These and similar recent incidents happen against the backdrop of a political campaign season, and in this arena, every politician uses outrageous accusations and egregious falsehoods to degrade the opposing candidate's image and reputation. This arena truly is a zero-sum game where the goal is to totally destroy the opposition. Here, too, the squalid negativity and outright lies are communicated electronically to the greatest possible audience. I believe that these two different scenarios are connected.

I don't hold a very high opinion of my fellow American citizens. I think that basically we're a nation of nitwits. Readers of this blog, however, should be aware by now that my low opinion of the population doesn't extend down to the teenage level. I believe that maladjusted teenagers, as well as the public school system which incubates them, are all just reflections of the greater adult society. Teenagers don't invent their despicable actions, they mostly just copy them from the adults they see. And when it comes to destroying reputations, the recent example seen by the teenagers comes from the adults at the very top of the food chain.

1 comment:

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