Social Media

An Unhealthy Trend: Social Media Becoming the Bully’s Playground

This is an opinion piece (for adults),  if you don’t agree with these opinions that is cool with me icon smile An Unhealthy Trend: Social Media Becoming the Bully’s Playground

Playground An Unhealthy Trend: Social Media Becoming the Bully’s PlaygroundI love social media. I think it is a fantastic way to interact and learn. However, I am seeing a pattern that is disturbing and unhealthy.

When children are growing up, the most important part of school is social interaction, learning to get along with others and appreciating differences in others. I have two children, one already an adult, and I can tell you that the social learning is not always easy, but it is critical.

Unfortunately, I do not see the lessons taught in schools carrying through to adult interactions in social media. There is no appreciation or even understanding of differences, and this is not only wrong, but an unhealthy problem that we all need to work together to stop.

Opinions

It used to be that people had different opinions, and groups would discuss these opinions and learn ideas and concepts from others. However, before, people discussed things in person and not through a computer screen. When people are face to face, they don’t have the tough, bully mentality many seem to have behind a computer keyboard.

In case you didn’t know, it is perfectly alright and natural for people to have a different opinion than yours. In fact, it is normal and very healthy for people to have different opinions and ideas. If this was not the case, we would not have, for example, the diverse music and art to appreciate and enjoy. Differing opinions is something to learn from, not something to dislike.

Something I think we should all keep in mind is that every single person on the planet has had a different life than yours. Their upbringing might have been violent, sad, lonely, or happy. They could be a victim of assault or war. These people, in particular, have a completely different perspective on life than those that have not been through either. Therefore, their opinions will be different than yours.

I constantly hear “don’t judge me until you have walked in my shoes.” Well I say, don’t judge others. You haven’t lived their life, you don’t think like they do, and you will never completely understand why they have the opinions they do, but they have a right to have opinions.

Unhealthy

Because we have all had different experiences, we are all different. And the beauty of that is we all have something great to bring to the table. Sadly, what I have seen becoming a massive trend this year is attacking others through social media because their ideas or opinions are different. This is unhealthy and dangerous, and I will tell you why.

We, the population and the media, are all screaming about what has to happen to stop “bullying” in schools. It is a major problem and everyone wants something done now! Right?

Guess what? The behavior you exhibit online is viewed by young people. Those who attack, insult, and try to hurt others who are different (or have a different opinion) are teaching an entire generation of younger people to attack, insult, and try to hurt those who don’t agree with their perspectives. This inability to tolerate differences and attacking is “bullying” people. This is unhealthy and dangerous.

We all need to help everyone understand that things need to change.

Desensitization

I completed my Master’s program in 2003 in the mental health field, and it was a three-year program. Throughout those three years (way back then), desensitization, in regards to the Internet, was discussed continually. Adults and teens were beginning to interact online and were losing their ability to have successful social interactions. They were becoming desensitized, and online bullying was starting to bloom.

Nine years later, what I see is a complete lack of understanding that the people you are commenting/tweeting to are real people. Some see a name and a small image and some say whatever comes to mind. They never ever consider the person behind the small image and text.

Not that long ago, a fellow writer was threatened on Twitter with “rape.” The word “rape” has become a word used to make funny images and memes by people that have no understanding of the devastation that word carries. Before you use that word, ever, I suggest you speak with a rape survivor and see what their life is like. Why not ask a rape survivor what it feels like to even see or hear the word “rape.” Desensitization.

Desensitization cannot be ignored. We all need to constantly keep ourselves in check and make sure we think before we type. Most of us try to think before we speak, right? People behind the screens are people as well. You don’t know their history.

Everyone has on a mask that they present to the outside world; don’t say things insensitive because you don’t know the history of others. You can never know how bad you could be hurting someone with social comments AND you could also be offending your social friends, as well … they just might never say it.

Politics

The attacks on Facebook, in particular, in regards to politics the last few months are disgusting. I am ashamed that our country has become so hateful and desensitized to others’ rights to have an opinion that we have lost focus on what is important—this country. What matters is not one party or the other. What matters is that we all work together to make this country great, successful, and respectable.

When you think back to the year after 9-11, do you remember an America that stood as one? Do you remember the love and appreciation we had for one another? Do you remember how we would have done anything for those around us and protected them? Eleven years later we are still the same people we were then and we should have the same respect we had for others back then.

Social Media

We all write about it. We give advice to businesses and we interact with friends. We also use it as a way to tell others how we feel and to give our opinions. Social interaction online will not stop, but if we want to raise a well-grounded and respectful generation that follows us, we all need to start watching how we behave on social media.

It is this social media generation that can set the ongoing path for respectful, online social interaction.

Stop with the insults. Stop with the attacks. Open your mind to the possibility that differences are OK, that they are good, and that they are something to learn from. Disagreeing respectfully is the goal.

End of Rant.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / udra

 An Unhealthy Trend: Social Media Becoming the Bully’s Playground

Melissa Fach

Melissa is the owner of SEO Aware, LLC. She is a consultant and trainer helping companies make the most of their content marketing and SEO. She specializes is the Psychology behind blogging and content marketing. Melissa is also an associate on the Community team at Moz, an associate and writer at CopyPress and an editor at Authority Labs. She is a self-proclaimed Star Wars and Internet geek and volunteers with big cats at BigCatHabitat.org.
 An Unhealthy Trend: Social Media Becoming the Bully’s Playground

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16 thoughts on “An Unhealthy Trend: Social Media Becoming the Bully’s Playground

  1. Very interesting post Melissa, Thanks!
    When some persons have not intelligent tools to explain their point of view to others or they do not want to know anything about “it is perfectly alright and natural for people to have a different opinion than yours”, “we should all keep in mind is that every single person on the planet has had a different life than yours”, they us the easiest way is to insult and attack others.

  2. Thanks so much for what you just said, Melissa, about online bullying and the depersonalization and insensitivity in that regard that is starting to become normalized as a form of “fun”. This essay’s contents were SO important that I actually took time out of my busy day to read it, and I made sure to, in my capacity as my Editor-In-Chief, post it on Sourcing K B (SourcingKB.com, a Knowledge Base for the careers industry).

    I wish more people would speak out on this subject. Words have tremendous weight, and deliberately triggering people, deliberately threatening and even terrorizing them, takes us to a pre-Hammurabic level of behavior.

    Wish there were a million like you.

    Rabbi R. Karpov, Ph.D., CPRW

  3. I’m glad you pointed this out, Melissa! Very interesting.

    I do agree with what it is you’re asking for, it’s much-needed. Common decency and sensitivity are seriously lacking.

    Part of it is the Internet, but before this, were we really any better? 100 years ago, if you didn’t agree with someone, they might have just shot you. Even 60 years ago, my grandfather changed our last name so people wouldn’t mistake us for Catholics (a fate worse than death for a Protestant in that era).

    I think intolerance and hate has been around as long as there have been people. Yes, the Internet makes it easier than ever for that to spread. However, it’s also easier to fight it! You’re always going to get the haters, whether online or walking down the street or even in your own family or community. It’s unavoidable… there’s an @$$hole born every second.

    There are still a whole lot of amazing people out there, though. Trying to change the haters is an exercise in frustration. Ever notice what happens to the school bullies? In my experience, they got fat, knocked up in high school, are in dead end jobs, and otherwise failed at life. They fail in business, too. So let them! More room for the rest of us ;)

    1. Miranda,

      I agree with you, hate has always been there and there will always be haters. I am hoping to reach those that are not haters, but following the trend.

      And I agree with, ” Yes, the Internet makes it easier than ever for that to spread. However, it’s also easier to fight it!”

      I think changing the haters can be difficult, but if writing this makes a few people think about their comments in the future I will be happy. I am all for encouraging good behavior (the mom in me :).

  4. Beautifully written, and I couldn’t agree more! Add a frightening breakdown of the English language to this as well. People have gotten so used to “Twitter-speak” or “Text-speak” that having a real, in person conversation in actual English can be difficult.

  5. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

    The worst thing, I think, is the way cruelty and nastiness has become a form of entertainment on the internet. It’s awful.

  6. Hey Melissa , Good article and even better thoughts and opinions to share! I agree opinions differ from person to person and that’s what help us lead the world to newer innovations. When i was in my teenage, i used to read Reader’s Digest book, i remember one quote i read in one issue of that book which said : “As an adult or parent, we have to explain and educate our children about differences, and we need to teach them that difference is not defeat” This made great impact on my mind. And by reading your post today, i just recalled this sentence :) .

    Technology is good but overuse is bad. And that’s what is happening with our lives today. We are busy in tweeting and texting to the person who lives just next to us, but we have no time in making real, face to face conversation with him/her.
    Unfortunately, social media is the term that says it is all about being social, but i have realized that people who use to stick to social media channels, have totally lost their real social connection. They are living a virtual social life :(

    1. Love this – “Unfortunately, social media is the term that says it is all about being social, but i have realized that people who use to stick to social media channels, have totally lost their real social connection.”

      Thanks!

  7. The anonymity of the computer screen certainly emboldens people to say and do things that they would never do face to face. The loss of the nonverbal component of communication is significant. When talking face to face we get the immediate feedback of the facial expression, body carriage, and tone of voice that tells us we just hurt the other person. Successful online communication requires, now more than ever, that we take our hands from the keyboard, read, and re-read what we just typed before clicking post.

  8. Melissa, as a moderator this kind of online troll like behaviour is something that takes up a lot of my time, I only hope that as we become more aware of it’s nasty concequences and people begin to face the implications of their actions that it’s frquency begins to dip. Great article!