Cyberbullying: It Doesn't Just Affect Kids - ITS Tactical
 

Cyberbullying: It Doesn’t Just Affect Kids

By Kelly Black

Don't Feed The Trolls

It’s not uncommon these days to hear reports on the local news about someone being bullied through the Internet. There are campaigns being led by celebrities, athletes, politicians, parents and family members of people who’ve been directly effected by bullying and general supporters who are trying to put a stop to this type of offense.

When I researched Cyberbullying online most of the information that I found was directed towards parents, children and teens. MTV has a campaign called athinline.org that blurs the focus somewhat with who the campaign is aimed at, but the photos imply that those affected by cyberbullying are young.

Would you be alarmed to find out that some of the people committing personal cyber attacks are adults with college educations? Me neither.

Don’t Feed the Trolls

As an online company who communicates with the public regularly, we’ve seen and received our share of malicious chatter. Personal attacks through direct messages and other violent and sexually oriented comments seem to run rampant amongst online businesses. A quick look in the comments section from your favorite Internet sites and you’ll know just what I’m talking about. Or you can follow the running joke in online companies; don’t read the comments.

At first you might think these remarks come from juveniles, as we often joke around here that the kids must be out of school with nothing better to do. However, more often than not, these comments come from men and women with jobs in respectable positions. It’s a shocking realization.

Messages like this are being seen around the globe. Curt Shilling, a former Red Sox pitcher, went public earlier this week with the cyberbullying his daughter Gabby was receiving. Some messages were directed at him, but described harm the offenders wanted to commit against his daughter. I was glad to read that several of the men who wrote vulgar and derogatory messages were identified, called out and some even lost their jobs over it.

Common practice seems to be not feeding the trolls, as they’re often referred to, but in Shilling’s case, his actions have made a big difference.

Hiding Behind Assumptions

Maybe one of the reasons these attackers have commented in obscene ways is because they think they can hide behind anonymity, using random user names and phony accounts to log into whatever form of social media they’re using. Perhaps some adults don’t seem to think what they are saying and doing online is bullying, they may think they’re just joking around. I can only speculate as to why educated adults are behaving like this, but the graphic and vulgar content that’s being thrown at people these days needs to stop no matter what.

It’s unfortunate that we have people in our society today who think they can take whatever action they feel is justified, verbal or otherwise, if they disagree with, don’t like someone, or are just trying to seem tough. You might be surprised to learn that online identities leave a trail similar to a paper trail and are easy to track down. Most states even have provisions that include electronic forms of communication in their stalking and harassment laws and often have crime units dedicated to tracking down the more serious reports.

The reality of the situation is that these comments are never anything these people would say in person or in public. In the words of Curt Schilling responding to someone saying this is just the world we live in now, “No, it’s not. We can allow it to be that way, but it’s not.”

As the digital age continues and we communicate more and more behind the screen of a computer or mobile device instead of face-to-face, values and respect must be part of that communication. Disagreement and differences can still be present, but violence and sexual attacks should never be part of the equation.

 

 

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Discussion

18 comments
ChristopherTonstad
ChristopherTonstad

Excellent article. Gone are the days of settling differences face to face, unfortunately. The anonymity of online profiles gives unbalanced people the comfort they need to perpetuate drivel that benefits no one, not even the author. Hence, my kids are not allowed online except when we are watching them. Closely.

Tony1212
Tony1212

How to deal with cyber bullying-

Step 1: turn off computer

Step 2: if what people say online somehow affects you negatively, you need to get off your ass and grow the f**** up.

Step 3: done :)

MArk
MArk

Great Article! I think a lot of people assume that most cyber bullies are kids. I've never encountered any personally but I have dealt with 2 or 3 at design firms I've worked at. The ones I've dealt with are what I think of as "keyboard commandos". They bully, talk a lot of smack and threats by way of emails or phone calls but when confronted face to face are cowards. And these folks were older people, far from being kids.

kellyblack
kellyblack

@MArk Thanks so much for checking out the article and I appreciate your feedback. It's unfortunate that you've had to deal with grown ups behaving badly, too. I like the title "keyboard commandos!"

nDjinn
nDjinn

I have one or more people set on attacking me anonymously online. They create fake accounts and also accounts in my name to post things as a target (at least in the past). They keep a website dedicated to me saying basically everything i have ever said or written is a lie, that my entire life is just some sort of scam (how I would benifit is unclear to me) and that I am some sort of delusional psychopath. One of them is a "known mentally ill person" information I found out from an attorney. But there is little I can do that doesn't involve spending a lot of money with less than guaranteed results. I don't know what the motivation is other than one person I had family ties to saying to me "I want to destroy your whole life", just going to point out it is impossible to do that with an anonymous website simply making claims about me. It's stressful, yes. A nuisance, not in any real sense. The people I work with know who I am and trust themselves to judge me all on their own. Plus some of these people know me through organisations that require physical copies of some kinds of paperwork it's claimed I lie about having. I am not a spy or super ninja or anything like that. I volunteer my skills, personal continuing education and quality equipment I know how to use and carry in some part come from ITS type groups. I think part of the jealousy and hatred aimed at me is that I have a pretty fun life and am happy; I am not stressed about money any more than the average person and get to do cool, fun things and the danger level is pretty low.

nDjinn
nDjinn

@kellyblack @nDjinn Thanks for the sentiment. I get more of your kind of response than anything negative. It's an echo chamber for maybe 3 people, everyone else is like "man, these people really hate you, can  I help you someway?"

kellyblack
kellyblack

@nDjinn I'm really sorry to hear that. You're right it's stressful, but I'm so glad to hear that you can keep it all in perspective and that you have a happy and full life. That's the best defense!

CowboyBob
CowboyBob

@nDjinn So, Adam, here is a point to consider.  Let's assume for a moment that a person is a swindler or a con artist and has continued recently to solicit donations online. Lets say that various legal organizations such as the Hawaii Attorney's general office have sent cease & desist orders for a fake 501(c)(3) charity based on a completely false military history provided by the person and the Alaska Elder Fraud department has successfully charged this person for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from their own mother supposedly for her own benefit but ending up buying rally cars, high end luxury vehicles, guns, and overpriced properties in Hawaii.


If people are simply pointing out those verifiable details so that no one else is suckered by this person, is it cyberbullying? Hiding behind the "cyberbullying" label is a wonderful thing for con men, isn't it?


So if a website documents the false military claims of this person,the property records of acreage in Hawaii, photos of the high end luxury vehicles taken from posts of the person, and the actual work history of the person that only shows 6-8 month short term employment histories as a security guard, IT help desk guy and doesn't support the lifestyle of a person coincidently is constantly soliciting donations online, then the question is "it is cyber-bullying or informing people providing donations?"


If anything is false there are certainly libel laws to protect you. Of course, anyone posting such things would have little worry if the things being posted are true. If I were posting such things, I would more than welcome a chance for such con artists to give me MY day in court. 

So why not take this person to court, Adam? 

Nick H
Nick H

Great article Kelly. It is sad how much damage people can do with a few simple key strokes. My cousin actually ended his life because his self esteem was so effected by the words of others. Tragic. One reason I love ITS is that you are willing to post content like this. Keep it up guys!

kellyblack
kellyblack

@Nick H Thanks, Nick! You're feedback is greatly appreciated. I'm so sorry to hear that about your cousin. We hear about tragic deaths like that way too often, it's my hope our society will get better at combating the trolls.

randypb
randypb

Well said Kelly! Thanks.

kellyblack
kellyblack

@randypb Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to read the article and share your feedback.

kellyblack
kellyblack

You've got that right. The shadow cast by the keyboard seems to add really big muscles. Thanks for reading the article!

kellyblack
kellyblack

Thanks for reading the article and for taking the time to comment!

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