NAMED AND SHAMED ONLINE. HELP!
Well, this article could not be more timely after last night’s episode of Q&A!
The online world is alight with comment on the behaviour of MP Sophie Mirabella and her reaction to the on-air collapse of fellow panellist Simon Sheikh from Get Up!
Ms Mirabella has been roundly criticised for her lack of response. Did you join the commentariat? What do you think of the criticism?
Dr Samantha Thomas wrote this yesterday, before the program aired…
How many of us use social media – blogs, Twitter or Facebook – and have experienced or witnessed online trolling (inflammatory comments), flaming (verbal attacks) or bullying (repeated and sustained attacks)?
I’m guessing a lot.
But how many of us have ever responded to that sort of behaviour? Or stepped in to back up a friend or ‘follower’ that we know is being given a hard time online?
I suspect everyone will have stuck up for someone, or themselves, at least once. But most of the time we stay silent. We privately sympathise with the victim, but leave it to someone else to back them up publicly.
Just like in the ‘real’ world it is easier to brush it off as someone else’s business and to grumble that some people are just idiots or jerks. Maybe the online and often-anonymous nature of social media also makes it difficult for people to judge when to step in and act.
Is it a troll? A bully? A flamer? Or just someone with a fiercely passionate opinion? And how do you know that they won’t turn that behaviour towards you?
Social media allows us to instantaneously express opinions about a range of different topics – some more sensitive than others. Yet few of us know the backgrounds or experiences of the people we are conversing with.
And let’s be honest. It’s not just footballers who tweet before they think.
Last time I checked, not a lot of people were joining Twitter, disclosing their Myers Briggs score and then writing a list of all the issues that they found emotionally triggering or too sensitive to discuss.
So is it unsurprising that communication can get hopelessly muddled when “Person A” holds a steadfast and passionate view about an issue that “Person B” can hardly bring themselves to discuss?
Do we just block, ignore and carry on if someone offends us on the web?
Or should we start to take a more collective stand against certain types of behaviour? If we do take a stand, are we just being ‘precious’ about the realities of our new online environments?
Like the real world, the online world contains all sorts of different individuals with many different ways of expressing their views.
Cyberbullying is broadly defined as the use of information technologies to “support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others”.
While disproportionate power relationships are at the heart of any form of bullying or online attack, it has become all too easy to hide behind the web as a way of justifying some pretty poor behaviour.
Just because someone has a lot of followers on Twitter or has a popular website or blog, it does not entitle them to treat people shabbily and use others’ responses for “click bait”.
For some people, the web is their only interaction with the wider world. Being named and shamed online, or having their comment trashed, is absolutely shattering for them.
What was it Spiderman said? “With great power comes great responsibility”.
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