“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
When it comes to the internet, we have some sort of responsibility. We know that we need to present a certain picture of ourselves in case our future employers, grandparents, or even your mother’s church friends stumble upon our Facebook. After all, 60 percent of employers confess to surfing social media profiles of their interviewees.
But what other responsibilities do we have on the internet?
Ninety-five percent of teens that witnessed bullying on social media report that others, like them, have ignored the behavior, according to the anti-bullying campaign NoBullying.com.
A shattering 52% of teens have experienced cyber bullying.
That statistic is ridiculous. Cyber bullying is something that needs to be taken with extreme seriousness, but yet it doesn’t seem to render enough outcry.
According to NoBullying.com, “cyber bullying is simply any form of bullying taking place online or by digital communication. This can include text messages, instant messengers, social media, email and other apps such as SnapChat.”
Cyber bulling is not only morally wrong, but it is punishable by Georgia law:
“Bullying someone through the use of an electronic communications device or means (phone, text message, instant message, email, social networking site posting, or other means) is “cyberbullying.” In Georgia, cyberbullying is a form of criminal stalking. (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-5-90.) A person commits stalking by:
- contacting another person without the recipients consent (including contact via electronic communications), or
- placing another person under surveillance, including electronic surveillance
- for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.
(Ga. Code Ann. § 16-5-90.)”
A convicted bully could face up to one year in jail and/or a $1k+ fine. While some argue that punishment extreme for “hurting someone’s feelings”, cyber bullying is so much more than “hurt feeling.” We don’t know what other people have endured. Bullying often leads to worsened or triggered depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.
Telling someone to kill herself with a butter knife and razor blade is cyber bullying.
Telling someone to slit her wrists is cyber bulling.
Cyber bullying is a crime and should be treated as such.
It’s not funny to “troll” someone online. It’s not funny to tell someone to die. It is simply not funny to torment someone from behind the safety of your computer screen! Again, you may never know what other people are going through.
The internet has been tamed, and you are your rose. If you see someone being harassed online, do NOT be a bystander! Report the bully and attempt to reach out to the victim.
That victim has a family. Maybe, just maybe, you could prevent a mother from burying her child. Maybe, just maybe, you could prevent that child from becoming another statistic.
Don’t let someone make the final cut. Don’t let someone tie that knot or pull the trigger. Don’t let the pills win. Don’t let the bullies win.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, PLEASE reach out to the hotline below!