In 1993 I was bullied by Sam. Sam called me fat, gay, loser… fill in the blank. I didn’t like it. I let Sam know by calling him fat, gay, loser… fill in the blank. Ultimately, Sam and I got into a fight. He was bigger than me, and I lost. But something happened that I didn’t expect- Sam and I became friends. Not immediately. Looking back, something happened during our confrontation. We were two boys, 12 years old, trying to figure out life. What it meant to be cool, respected and earn our place in the world. We were doing this face to face.
Fast forward to 2013 and bullying is now a hot topic, and rightfully so. Boys, and girls, are still trying to figure out their place in the world, only their world is much different today than it was in 1993. With access to cell phones, tablets and computers pretty much everywhere they are, our kids are using the internet and social media to practice social interactions. Face to face confrontation is becoming less and less replacing it with online bullying, or also known as, cyberbullying.
There are many cases of online bullying that have resulted in horrible outcomes: Rebecca Sedwick, Megan Meier and Tyler Clementi are just a few. There are tough consequences, as there should be, in many of these cases. But what is the underlying issues and can it be stopped?
Comedian, Louis C.K. is on to something. He comments in this video about how kids are mean because they are trying it. [Kids] will look at another kid and say, “You’re Fat!” Then they see the reaction of the other kid [sad, hurt, etc] and think, “Oh, that didn’t feel good.” When it comes to texting and social media; however, Louis C.K. points out that the same kid will write/post something, and without the other kid there thinks to him/herself, “Mmmm, I like that.”
Now, he is a comedian and it is not that simple, but there is something to be said about kids figuring out life, emotions and social connection through social media more and more while disconnecting during face to face interactions. This is resulting in a more vicious and vindictive form of bullying than any of us growing up pre internet era ever had. Cyberbulling is a symptom of the disconnect that kids are having with one another.