|Posted on November 13, 2013 at 4:45 PM|
A Moment Re: Internet Bullying
Initially, I was drafting a blog about “shaming” versus “criticism” and how people, on both sides, confuse the two. Saying “Miley Cyrus acted like a whore at the VMAs” is akin to shaming. But saying “Miley Cyrus desperately seeking attention by being overly sexual because she has no trust in her music or talent” is being more critical. It was to be an expose about critique and political correctness and whatnot…
But then this happened:
To summarize, a very talented web series host (for lack of a better word), Kyle Kallgren, whom I put on this list of “Shows you should check out” because it's damn awesome, has a girlfriend. Said girlfriend has a blog and that comment appeared on it about a week ago. Kyle went on Facebook and gave a response, and it seemed simlar to a lot of responses of victims of bullying on the internet over the past few years (and, truthfully, I think “bullying” is putting it lightly). The response is this: yes it happened, yes I’m pissed, but what can we do about it?
The answer is very little, and that’s what’s so sad. You just end up carrying it with you, like a bad case of food poisoning while you toured abroad and when you come back you feel like you'll throw up for three days. That's cyberbullying in a nutshell: it happens, you wade through it and move on.
But you still think about that awful experience the entire time. Sometimes randomly, like taking a shower or just listening to music. That's how bullying works, cyber or otherwise, and it angers the hell out of me.
It makes you just want to close up all your accounts and say "goodbye" to the internet. It's become that bad.
Now I don't know Kyle or his girlfriend, but I feel their story is a striking example of a serious problem that has grown larger as the internet itself has grown larger.
That and a few more instances of nasty bullying I’ve seen over the past months just started to grow on me, kind of like a fungus you know you need to get rid of. Well, one thing I know how to do is write and I suppose that’s the medication I need to just get rid of that fungus eating away at me - otherwise it’ll just keep growing. You know how the internet is: when a bad thing happens, you tend to take notice more of it happening because people start drawing it out more.
In this case, it’s not so much about bullying, but it’s about being a coward. No, not some soldier in a foxhole scared for his life at the oncoming enemy front, shaking in fear that he won’t see his family again and struggling to find the courage to fight. Instead, it’s about how the internet has made everyone a coward and, what’s worse, the kind of coward that isn’t fighting for anything or even worth anything. It’s the laziest kind of cowardice: the one where it takes so little to bully and even littler to run and hide to not deal with any consequence of action.
Bullying is a lot easier when it's not face to face and you don't have to deal with consequences. It also shows how much of a pussy you are.
I want you to read that link and realize that stuff like that is happening everyday hundreds of times and possibly to people you know. As wonderful as social media can be, at the heart of it all, nobody really “knows” anybody and, as a result of that, everyone turns a bit apathetic and uncaring towards each other. As many windows and doors the internet can open, it can build just as many walls that people can hide behind. A while ago I mentioned the “extremes” of the internet, how everything can only be “the best thing ever” or “the worst thing ever” when most of reality is the area in between. What I failed to mention, or realize, is that it also breaks the extremities of human decency.
Like the gaming community, I feel there needs to be a serious discussion and effort about things wrong with the internet community and social media as a whole. Many of those people probably don’t want to hear it, but they are nearly identical in their problems: there’s just a lot of hate and absurd criticisms spewing around without accountability. Then, when you call someone out on it, you’re strangely in the wrong as then those bullies start to team up and people start to choose sides. Go on any polical article online and read comments, you'll see what I mean.
In the case of cyberbullying, though, there is no wrong except the person doing it. I think we need to think of a different word other than “cyber bulling” though, which sounds like a bad 90s movie. Here’s one, and it can go across the board of gaming, internet and real life where people make fun of others in cosplay or call them “nerds” at school: You’re a fucking asshole.
But wait, there’s more. You’re not just a fucking asshole, but you’re living your life in a manner that is so saddening to me that I can’t comprehend it. Think about it for a moment, and we’ll use the link above as an example: someone woke up one day, took a shower, ate breakfast and then sat down at a computer and wrote that. That was something they wanted to do one day. Nothing creative or unique or interesting or being around friends and having fun or petting a kitten…they got on the computer and told someone to kill themselves. Congrats, coward, I hope you think about that wonderful moment when you’re on your death bed and surrounded by nobody.
You aren't being clever, you aren't being entertaining, you aren't contributing to anything other than your own insecure selfishness. You're just an asshole feeding off of others that are better than you, and that's all you will ever be.
Do you know what I hate even more: people that say “you’ll get over it.” Just because you “get over something” doesn’t mean you stop carrying it with you. Did I get over being bullied as a kid? Yeah. Do I still think about it? Yeah as well. Men, women, young, old, online, offline…being a horrible person is being a horrible person, and the sad thing is the internet has allowed those horrible people, the lowest parts of human society that we usually ignore, suddenly have a voice.
They got tired of us ignoring them, all that pent-up frustration of wanting to exert their hatred (often self-hatred but I won’t go psychoanalytical here) and the past couple of decades of online growth has allowed them to express it to a wide audience and, to their benefit, stay “anonymous.” Bullies are already cowards, being anonymous is the same as hitting someone at school and walking away and the victim doesn't even know who you are or why you did it. And yes...I still would like to have known who those people when I was a kid were to this day.
That’s where their cowardice comes in. The internet is a cesspool because of people like this, and it’s hard to ignore because all those windows and doors that the internet is opening allows them in and simultaneous allows them to hide behind all those walls and not have to deal with any consequences of their actions. It’s like how you might have someone use a racial slur on Twitter, but I guarantee you the moment they’re around people of said race, they’re shutting the fuck up. The internet allows the perfect storm for cowards and hateful people.
And a lot of it can seem directed soley at you sometimes when the people doing the bullying it probably don't have the mental capacity to really think that much on it. They do it, put it out there and it lands leaving the victims to pick up the pieces to try and make sense of it all.
If you say “just don’t respond” or “just ignore” then there’s a damn good chance you just haven’t been a victim of it…yet. After a while, everyone has a breaking point. Most of bullying you can ignore, they’re just half-assed comments on a video or article by someone not putting their thoughts together and with an itchy “send” finger. I kind of laugh at those because I know some poor soul who can't spell failed miserably. But then you have the vile ones, the ones about “killing yourself” because they don’t have the mental faculties to string together anything worthwhile to say and regress to being nine and acting as though they heard a curse word for the first time.
I know there’s a discussion to be had about “kidding” and whatnot, but usually that’s amongst friends and people that know each other. There’s nothing “funny” here, the line is easy to see unlike, say, sarcasm which never comes across well online. Comments like this from “anonymous” isn’t a friend being dumb or referencing something she would only know. It’s just a piece of shit completely insecure and upset with his own life that his only release is to get up in the morning with that intent, as though he couldn’t sleep at night unless he did it - or she, let’s not be sexist here women can be equally as vindictive and mean especially towards other women for some reason, I know there’s a term for it but it’s escaping me at the moment. Then again you don't need a label to just still be an asshole.
Man, woman, sexist, racist, old, young...an asshole is an asshole and the internet allows all of them to cowardly yell out their hatred.
Whether it’s a man or woman of any race or age, there’s just a lot of it going around and it’s not so much that I wonder “why” - I already told you why - but it’s that I find it incredibly sad and disappointing that, in a way, the internet kind of reveals who a person really is: and if being “anonymous” and sending out hateful tweets, messages or comments is who you really are, I have to pity you because something happened in your life to make you want to do that.
Just know that I pity the reason - you being unhappy and miserable - but I don’t pity the action itself. Being a coward and hiding behind those internet walls to make someone else as miserable as you isn’t worth pitying. All it shows is how awful of a person you are by doing it and that you probably have issues that require treatment.
As for those that are victims, the best thing you can do is not stop. Keep doing what you're doing, expect those people to be out there and remember how much better you are than them.
Eventually I’ll get back to writing that other blog, but stuff like the above just kind of puts it all in perspective: real people are more important than any game, movie or show any day, we just need to remember that when years from now nobody will care about some movie or some VMA performance, but those being hurt by bullying are still thinking about it. I know I do.