Cyber Bully Compassion Crisis and Empathy Deficit (Monica Lewinsky)

Posted: March 24, 2015 in Uncategorized
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The television show, CSI: Cyber, starring Patricia Arquette, James Van Der Beek, and Charley Koontz, attempts to expose cyber crimes committed on the world wide web. Based on advanced technology that reveals online criminal activity, CSI: Cyber uses an actual cyberpsychologist, Mary Aiken, as its inspiration. In each episode, Special Agent Avery Ryan (Arquette) dredges up the muck that pollutes the Internet and reveals online criminal activity, including everything from crowd sourcing to kidnapping. While the show exposes a multitude of crimes committed online, the focus of this blog is on one aspect of cyber crime – cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying has become an enormous – and sometimes deadly – problem. Victims of bullying become targets for the cyber bully’s frustrations, rages, and impulses. We can blame television or we can blame society, but what is happening to our youth today is something we’ve never before encountered. Never before have people been able to enter our homes and kill us without ever being present. Children are unnecessarily dying at the hands of murderers unseen.

Before the Internet, news was delivered sometimes the day after the event occurred. Today we get our news instantaneously. Today we get almost everything instantly. A meal that might have taken hours to prepare in the last century now takes minutes or seconds. We no longer save for the things we want. If we want a new giant flat-screen Smart TV, but don’t want to save for it, we pull out a credit card. Who cares that we just spent $2,000 that we don’t have? Who cares that the TV for which we will be paying a monthly credit card fee will eventually cost us $4,000 – or more – when our payments are complete?

We have lost our ability to reign in our impulses. We want it, whatever “it” is, and we want it NOW.

What’s worse, though, is that we have become numb to the pain of others. We lash out at people who infuriate us. Sadly, many of the people who infuriate us are strangers whose stories we hear about or read about on TV or online. Without facts, and using only television or online news sources, many of which are prejudiced, to support our arguments, we lash out at the PEOPLE behind the stories, ignoring the fact that our actions and our words affect PEOPLE. We have an opinion, damn it, and we want everyone to hear it. So we write blogs and post comments and attack, attack, attack without ever realizing – and often without caring – that we have what Monica Lewinsky calls, a “compassion crisis and empathy deficit.”

Monica Lewinsky was the first person to experience cyber bullying on a global scale. In her online TED show, The price of shame, Monica Lewinsky talks about being a young woman in love with her boss. Her boss, of course, was the president of the United States. And what transpired between them became a series of relentless attacks on a young woman who was incapable (at the time) of knowing how to handle the onslaught of evil intentions. (I highly recommend clicking the link and listening to Monica Lewinsky’s talk.)

Something interesting happens when you compare face-to-face confrontation with cyber bullying. Put people together in the real world and only a small number of people will step forward and crucify us in public. A prearranged gang of “friends” may help the perpetrator with the attack and beat us to death, but online, hidden behind computer screens, some people jump on any perceived cause and attack people they’ve never met – with words – vicious, angry, vitriolic words – and threats.

Do these malignant haters get the full story? The real story? Both sides? No, and it doesn’t matter to them. They just want a platform on which to slew forth aggressive comments, so they throw out a rope to rally forth troops of other haters, believing them to be supportive of their lies. Whatever evil lies inside them is flung into cyber space and anyone looking for a cause will grab onto that rope and swing with other bullies without giving any consideration to the thought that the rope on which they hang could be the rope on which they hang themselves.

Truth has a way of revealing itself and if we have a conscience, we may (and hopefully will) someday learn what true compassion and empathy feel like.

In their article, Responding to Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Teens, Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D. and Justin W. Patching, Ph.D. recommend that victims of cyber attacks talk about what is happening to them. Whether victims choose parents, a trusted friend, a teacher, or a grandparent, they must tell somebody, even, and maybe especially, if they feel embarrassed by the attacks. Parents need to let their children know that even if kids did something as shameful as sending naked photos of themselves, parents won’t also bully the child. Keeping fears bottled up inside can be dangerous. We need to expose bullying for what it is – toxic.

We could also ignore the bully, but this probably works only after the initial incident. If we have been the target of a bully for a while, we’ve already given the bully what he or she wants – our fear.

The third recommendation made by Hinduja and Patching is to never retaliate. By retaliating, we put ourselves on the same level of imbecilic behavior the cyberbully is riding. So we don’t forward anything that could be construed as bullying. We don’t want it happening to us; we shouldn’t do it to someone else, even if that person is the one who bullied us. We must show that we are the more mature person. Without being aggressive, we need to assert ourselves by telling the bully how inappropriate his or her behavior is, shake our heads, and move on.

Laughing at the bully would not be a good approach to the problem, but laughing about what the bully is saying or doing would let the bully know we’re not going to allow the bully’s actions to affect us. And we need to practice showing how unaffected we are, because bullies will pick up on any vulnerabilities.

Whether the attack occurs on Facebook, in emails, in cell phones, or on some other social media site, we must SAVE THE EVIDENCE! Save ALL the evidence. From the moment we feel something is amiss, start saving EVERYTHING related to the cyber (or cell phone) attacks. If we can’t print the evidence, we need to learn how to take screen shots of our pages and save them in a file on our computers. In some instances, we may need to contact the police. In other instances, we may need to report the bullying to schools or to cell phone providers.

Simply blocking the perpetrator could be enough to stop the taunting, but just because we’ve blocked him or her doesn’t mean the bullying will end. The bully may find it hard to bully us to our faces (or even to our online presence), but they may continue to bully us through our friends and relatives. WE may not be able to see the bullying, but all of our friends who are still the bully’s friends will continue to see the comments. If our friends are truly our friends, we could ask them to also block the bully.

Another recommendation made by Hinduja and Patching is to report the cyberbully to our content provider. The article suggests this is an easy task since cyberbullying is in violation of most terms of service, but the site doesn’t offer a place to report the incidents. If you live in the United States, a great place to start is the website, Stop Bullying. It provides a great deal of resources for the prevention of bullying.

To find out how to report your specific type of bullying, plug, “how to report violations of terms of service for (social media sites, cell phone providers)” into your search engine. I wrote, “how to report violations of terms of service for Facebook,” and received as my first result a page titled, Report a Violation of the Facebook Terms | Facebook,” which took me to a form I needed to complete.

Remember, cyber bulling is a CRIME and crimes need to be reported, so if you or a loved one have become a victim of an Internet Crime, take responsible ACTION and report the crime. The article, How to Report Internet Crimes, explains the process beyond local police departments, to report the crime(s).

For more on cyberbullies, please read Socializing, Peer Pressure, and Bullying: At Lunch, on the Bus, During Recess: Raising Confident Children and Managing Bullies.


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