Don’t get me wrong. I had my bout with cyberbullying. It was after calling my boss Uncle Fester in a group chat at work. I did not initiate it. My colleague did. I just allowed the word to float. We just can’t help but recognize the uncanny resemblance of our superior to the infamous member of the Adams family. A letter of reprimand clearly stated our violation – cyberbullying. But what if that remark to his appearance was an intentional compliment from our end? Cyberbullying has always been frowned at. However, the parameters surrounding it – to me – is still not clear. Whilst writing this, I have no idea what cyberbullying is about. I have so many questions. A Google tab is currently open to my convenience. I will write along the way.
Since its inception, the internet has been a suitable haven for users to gain access to a pool of information. With the creation of social media, users can be closer to the people they love along with millions that are just plain accessible and responsive to ‘hand waves’ and ‘care to chat?’. Again, please don’t get me wrong. There were no regulations or ethics imposed before, so I used to think that the internet is a freedom wall where I can air whatever I want, whenever I want. It was a rare opportunity for me to finally scrap GMRC and just get the bloodbath going. I was a teenager then.
Fast forward to adulthood and reading hate comments on political posts, fanatical remarks on celebrity love teams, the geographical dislocation of Mount Mayon, and the currently famous ‘utang shaming’ posts. Let’s admit it, social media is currently a circus. Moreover, gaining access to platforms is free. One person can have one legit account and five fake accounts – for stalking, bashing, and releasing his/her uninhibited personality in a world that, when played right, will not incur consequences.
How did the concept of ‘cyberbullying’ came to be? Cyberbullying, also known as cyberharassment, is a form of harassment using electronic means. Bullying, on the other hand, is defined as the use of force, threat, and coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others – often exemplifying an imbalance in power. There are three ingredients to bullying: one, hostile intent; two, imbalance of power; and three, repetition over a period of time. It includes posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks, victim’s personal information, pejorative labels or hate speech online. – Source: Wikipedia
Cyberbullying in many colorful ways. Anything posted online that is deliberately intended to hurt, harass, or upset someone is within the lines of cyberbullying. But what if a certain issue is posted in good faith and is intended to elicit a response and provoke constructive thoughts? An enraged customer posting a rant about a poor experience in a restaurant. A citizen resorting to Facebook to expose a corrupt politician. A person posting the name and image of a alleged thief to warn others. Moreover, some posts are just plain spiteful. A person in the opposition is commonly called out and bashed for his views. This is from my observation, try to mention a competitor love team in a (insert love team) zone. Moreover, insert an opposing view in a highly political post, especially ones that involves the name of a politician or color followed by the suffix -‘tard’. Not only will your views be attacked but you, personally, will be. This, most of the time, results in an exchange of vile speech and conclusively encourages a hateful community.
Just recently, one post caught my attention. It is a video of a woman ranting over a debt that was not paid. After spewing venom and sharing anecdotes, she revealed the name of the debtor. A part of me says she deserves that two minute video and the borrower deserves that moment of shame. The post garnered a large number of views and netizens flooded the post with hateful comments. On second thought, is that within the confines of cyberbullying? Social media has also become a breeding ground for online predators – rapists, perverts, pedophiles, and the virtual pseudo budol-budol (referring to every form and type of scammers online). Sadly, the internet is not a safe place.
It’s fine, everyone does it. Not because everyone does it, it’s fine. Social media, originally intended to improve relationships, is now a breeding ground for hate. Before, I see social media as a freedom wall to air whatever I want, whenever I want. Now, I have hesitations prior posting/commenting. One, I don’t want anyone to get offended. Two, I don’t want to get bashed for it. It’s ironic that ‘freedom of speech’ is exercised but is also discreetly limited. I always think of the possible implications prior posting/commenting and decide whether or not those implications are worth it – just like this article now.
No, it’s not fine. Let’s cultivate a culture of respect. According to Hootsuite in its ‘Digital in 2018’ report, the Philippines now has 67 million internet users, with all of them on social media. This gives rise to internet-related crimes such as rape, theft, bullying, and piracy. With regard to this, Globe Telecom, a purveyor of digital lifestyle came out with #MakeItSafePH cybersecurity and cyberwellness campaign to educate consumers about online threats and what they can do to avoid becoming a victim. The campaign also teaches proper online etiquette to avoid becoming a source of such deplorable behavior. On another note, it wouldn’t take a gargantuan brand to tell us to be sensible individuals online. Let’s be sensible. Stop the hate. We cannot top hate with more hate. If you can’t agree with someone’s opinion, keep your comments constructive and respectful. If someone doesn’t support your favorite love team or favorite politician, keep your replies classy. No point in bashing or spewing hateful comments. Then again, this is the Philippines in the 21st century. But then again, there will always be room for change once we start it within ourselves.
And, oh, we already apologized to Uncle Fester. Just kidding, we sincerely apologized.