Cyberbullying is different from regular bullying. See, bullying is a tried and true tradition that was around when today’s grownups were a couple years removed from pooping their own pants. But cyber-bullying? Totally different can of worms. Instead of telling someone they suck, a mean person tells someone they sucks … on the Internet. And have you seen some of the crazy stuff on the Internet? Why, there are videos of hamsters skateboarding to Latin techno music. It’s crazy!
And praise Cthulhu for public service announcements from the National Crime Prevention Council designed to eliminate, illuminate, and maybe even stop cyberbullying. These ads streamed through my watching of episodes of WKRP In Cincinnati on Hulu.com. (What I was viewing will be an integral part to the thesis, hopefully.)
The NCPC PSA, aside from being a ridiculously difficult Scrabble hand, is branding this type of bullying as if it’s a separate beast from the classic atomic wedgie handed out at recess. Let’s not dress up this practice too much with fancy words. It’s just being mean on the Internet. And if being mean on the Internet is wrong, then kind sirs and madams, you might as well just take my Internet way from me.
The interaction between the alpha bully and the beta victim is one basically everybody endures at some point in the harsh, unforgiving miasma, known more commonly as middle school. This, the years for 12- and 13-year-olds, is when kids discover swearing is sometimes okay, your parents aren’t that cool, and playing with ones own naughty bits has a more profound effect than previously concluded. It’s also the time when kids might get their own semblance of freedom to browse the Internet and create their own virtual personae.
And here’s where the concern for people being cruel to one another online comes into play.
The above PSA quips, regarding Internet meanness, “If you wouldn’t say it in person, why say it online?” Uh, because it’s easier to be honest with someone over the Internet. No eye contact, no body language, and no voice to react to. This is why it’s easier to ask girls out on the Internet, and why it’s generally considered a cop-out on the rite of passage involving mumbles and stutters in front of one’s crush. So is the NCPC advocating not asking out your lab partner over IM, because little Preston is too shy to slide a handwritten note into her textbook?
Technology might change the way we communicate, perhaps for the worse, but it doesn’t mean it’s going away, and neither will Internet bully talk. You might have trouble believing this, but I myself was a “victim” of this “cyberbullying.” I may have had Geocities instead of MySpace growing up, but it’s all ones and zeroes. I vividly recall an anonymous friend creating a momma-joke-laden website basically directed toward me. All my friends saw it. They laughed at it. And I was so ashamed, I went and hung myself. They found me dead the next morning.
Okay, actually what I did is fought the fuck back. Remember, it’s easier to retaliate on the Web because there’s no physical interaction. The bullying website contained a link to a topless Carmen Electra, which was one of those clever “yo momma” jokes. And I knew that Geocities policy prohibited pornographic material or links. So I reported the page to Geocities admin, and the thing was taken down in a few days. I’d like to think I won, if not in the sense of “getting the page removed,” then certainly in the game of life, realizing that mean words can’t really harm you if you (a) lighten up and (b) stand up for yourself.
In a world where teenagers are over-sheltered at home, at school, and beyond, the Internet is probably the last frontier where they can actually get their feelings hurt, be glad it wasn’t a purple nurple, and learn a valuable life lesson for when they enter the real world where business executives and customers are way crueler.
I’m not condoning cyberbullying. Because that implies I’m tolerating the practice while deciding it’s not for me. No, I’m flat out advocating it. It’s healthy for the ch’i. Maybe you folks at the NCPC could stand to get into it a little. Yeah, I’m talking to you. Your PSA’s suck, and you suck too. Why are they so fucking horrible? Is it because your moms slept around and you’re afraid you’re a bastard child? I bet that’s what it was. Nobody likes you. Just go away. Goddamn losers.Powered by Sidelines