| Category: General
This is a blog baised around the topic of cyber bullying
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Ask.fm. Snapchat. Tumblr.
All of the above are websites which are known to provide a social media platform, in which people can share details of their lives with others. To find an individual who lives in this age of technology and is unfamiliar with Facebook, it takes some doing.
I spent a recent traffic-filled journey home listening to a BBC Newsbeat report straight from Ask.fm's headquarters in Latvia. The focus of the piece was to shed light on how the website, which allows users to submit questions to other anonymously, is making changes to battle the problem of cyberbullying.
Sixteen teen suicides around the world have been linked to abuse received through Ask.fm, yet the company still allows anonymous questions to be posted. This means that users of the website can still receive messages that are of a bullying nature. Ask.fm's representative said that there is software that flags certain words or phrases to human workers who assess the situation, and who also respond to reports of abuse from people on the site. I don't know if that's enough.
Having experienced cyber bullying on Facebook, I can safely say that it is horrible. Such cruel things can be said on such public platforms. Whilst that makes getting evidence of the bullying easier, it also means that personal profiles are bombarded with unrelenting taunts and insults.
Cyberbullying has such a bizarre effect on the victims. I knew that people were saying horrible things about me on Facebook, yet all I wanted to do was check these people's profiles to see if they'd written anything new. It made me feel awful, but I just had to do it. It was almost an obsession. All day long, it would be on my mind. If there was nothing new, I'd reread the screenshots I'd taken of their previous insults. I can't explain it.
Online cruelty allows for the insults to be kept forever, there for whenever you need to punish yourself again. My experience has meant that I haven't used Facebook for at least three years. I'm happy without it; I don't want to be obsessively checking to see how many people liked my status or worrying about what other people think of something I’ve uploaded. Another bonus to not having Facebook means that only true friends will remember your birthday, not just everyone on your friend list.
I can see the positive sides to social networking sites for sure, but unfortunately I think the negative aspects are much stronger. People are much braver when they can speak from behind a screen; their words are harsher and more carefully thought out than they would be in person. Hiding behind an online profile allows for a level of disconnect that simply isn't there in face to face conversations.
To help, I think we need to highlight that cyber bullying does exist and it is a very hard thing to talk about. Anonymous messages can be traced, people can be stopped. It's hard to admit that something like this is happening, as it often occurs when you're at home, in your bedroom, a supposed safe place. We have to realize that bullies and mean people cannot be allowed to belittle us within the walls of our own homes.
For more information, or for help, visit http://www.stopbullying.gov/cyberbullying/