- Benjamin Disraeli
I broke a coffee mug yesterday. I want to say it was on accident. But it wasn't. In fact, at the time I was enabling its breakage (which is a fancy way of saying 'unceremoniously hurling it at the floor') I didn't even feel a single ounce of remorse.
This is new for me. I get angry, sure, but never violent. I have never actually broken something (on purpose), whether it is a painted piece of porcelain or someone's nose. I am not an angry person. But, lately, in the last few months, enough has been enough.
Make fun of me for being a Duke fan?
Keep it classy!
But what do you do when you don't know who the person provoking you is? There is no known relationship to fix because he or she chosen to hide behind the anonymity that a technologically advanced age has allowed him or her to assume. Even the most superficial emotions of anger have nowhere to be directed, but it is hard to forget the offense. Who takes time out of their day to anonymously harass someone on the internet?
Apparently a lot of people. Cyber bullying is finally getting the attention it deserves. Although at first I found a lot of their campaigns laughable, but the statistics and real stories are hardly a joke. According to anti-cyber bullying group i-SAFE, 42% of kids have been bullied while online. 1 in 4 have had it happen more than once. There have been cyber bullying related suicides by children who just could not handle the intimidation and cruelty.
And here is where my shattered coffee mug enters into the equation. The catalyst for my out-of-character action was the result of an incredibly invasive, crude, and cruel message sent through a social media outlet. At first, when I saw it, I was appalled. What was written, due to content, had to have been composed by someone who not only knows me, but knows intimate details about my life. After shock, all I could feel was anger. Who would be such a coward that they could not ask a question or say these things to my face? Why were they unable to keep such disgustingly rude thoughts to themselves rather than splatter them sloppily all over my otherwise normal day? And, most importantly, why were they masquerading as a friend if they honestly couldn't be bothered to bring up the conversation in person?
Cyber bullying is real, and it is not just limited to children - although the adults who engage in cyber bullying might as well be acting like mean spirited schoolchildren. Studies in the UK show that one in 10 employees feel as if they are victims of cyber bullying in the workplace alone. I know I am not alone. I know some of you who are reading this can commiserate. As someone who has long been the number one fan of both technology and every form of social media possible, I urge you to join me - we must not let the magnitude of possibilities available with these advances turn into a nuclear project of power we cannot control or dedicate to doing good. There will always be a darker side to almost every discovery, but we, as individuals, can do what we can to rein in this misuse. This is not first time you may have heard this, but I cannot reiterate it enough: Those 'report' buttons are there for a reason. We must do our best to behave online the same way we would face-to-face. And we must discourage online anonymity among social networks. There is hardly a place for it. We must hold ourselves online to the exact same standards we would offline.
Maybe I am not right for reacting the way I did, but let's get one thing straight: It definitely took me longer to clean up that coffee mug than it did for Mr. or Ms. Anonymous to send me that miserly missive. And, although I am much more educated for it, I'd still prefer whoever you are to stay out of both my life AND my inbox.