By Shana Kongmun
When did we get so mean?
Social media these days is filled with
flying insults, aggression and downright nastiness amongst people who
politically oppose each other. While this behavior is certainly getting
worse, it is nothing new for the online world.
Some people feel no compunction in plastering another person’s details all
over the internet and smearing their name and their reputation, while others
choose to do the same sort of thing with barbed insults and nasty comments.
It is commonly pointed out that this behavior is often caused by the seeming
anonymity of the internet; “keyboard warriors” fighting their faceless
battles as it were. But truth be told, I am seeing this behavior on the
rather far less anonymous world of Facebook among people who do know each
other personally. That is, in the face to face “real world” of social
If these people were children at school they would be the schoolyard
bullies, calling other kids fatty and four eyes. A teen I know was cyber
bullied and harassed on Facebook, fortunately his mother saw the behavior
and took a screenshot before the other teen had a chance to remove the
offending material and took it to the child’s school. Who knows if the
school would not have taken it seriously if she had not pushed? But push she
did and a meeting was called with the bully’s parents who refused to believe
their precious child could engage in such behavior until, of course, shown
the evidence. Punishment was meted out and perhaps this teen no longer
bullies and learned a lesson or just learned to be like the adults and be a
tad more subtle.
It’s a pity that there isn’t a Principal we can go to for these same adults
online, adults who use the guise of humor to attack and insult, adults who
use the internet to belittle and demean others, adults who use social media
to smear another person’s reputation. Unfortunately, there is no great big
Principal wielding the ruler on the internet ready to force unruly, nasty
and aggressive people into line.
What it comes down to is personal responsibility, something lacking in a
great deal of people who use the internet; personal responsibility that
one’s words have consequences and that the only person responsible for the
words and actions that come from you is you. Jesus and Buddha both had a
saying, each the flip side of the coin. “Do unto others what you would have
them do unto you,” is the more famous of the two but Buddha pointed out that
the reverse is also true; do not do to others what you would not have done
to yourself. Both are equally important.
So, to the cyberbullies, stalkers and people who just generally need to
learn to apply the manners they learned as a child to the cyber world as
much as to the real world, bear in mind this thought from the Buddha,
““There are no chains like hate…. How easy it is to see your brother’s
faults, how hard it is to face your own. You winnow his in the wind like
chaff, but yours you hide….like a cheat covering up an unlucky throw.
Dwelling on your brother’s faults multiplies your own.”
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