Traditionally we have thought of bullying as a school issue. Kids can be brutal. We should know - we were all kids once and were either the victim, bully or bystander. One thing many of us learned as we grew older though is that bullies exist everywhere. Those bullies aren’t limited to school and childhood. However, we learn a lot in our years on how to manage those types of people. That is, we seemed to learn how to manage them.
The internet is a pretty cool place and it has come a long way since it became mainstream. Sharing photos and thoughts is now easier than ever. Most of the time that quick share of a thought or photo is pretty awesome. Occasionally, our thoughts and photos are used to hurt others and that is not at all awesome.
There are scientific journals available online with plenty of scholarly articles to provide you with the psychology of the mob mentality and I encourage you to dig into those if you want more information. If you have been online during a “controversy” you have seen it though and may have been swept up into the mob yourself at some point. I have.
- A dentist kills a lion.
- A woman tweets something questionable before boarding a plane to Africa.
- A picture of a woman posing at a memorial begins to circulate on Facebook.
- A fraternity sings a horrible song and is caught on video.
In some cases what happened was a misunderstanding or a miscommunication. In others, what the people did was considered horrible in the eyes of many in our society. In all of these though, the mob sought to have these people shamed, fired from their jobs and their lives destroyed. It is my opinion that we should always avoid online shaming and bullying. We are not judge and jury.
Before you comment or respond online to a situation remember:
- The person being attacked is a person
- The person being attacked has a family
Before you say something about the situation or the person online ask yourself:
What you can do if you see online bullying.
Say something. Do something. Yes, the mob could turn on you. But you should stand up for what is right. The more bystanders who do - the smaller the mob will be.
The internet can be such a powerful tool and you can choose how to use it. Will you use the internet for good or for awesome?
There are so many good anti-cyberbullying groups out there, but we do love Bystander Revolution on Twitter if you want to check them out. We also wrote a blog about Managing Your Online Persona. Check it out.