I wholly disagree with the notion that “When you give everyone a voice and everyone power, the system usually ends up in a really good place”. This idea is not only naive and foolish but simply untrue. Cyber bullying , cyber stalking and cyber paedophilia are threats that have sprung up in recent years in tandem with the modern phenomenon that is social media where everybody’s voice and opinion can be heard (well, read ) no matter how inappropriate illegal or damaging it may be to another person or even a group of people.
Along with these cyber space based problems, content shared or posted online can often step over the threshold of the internet and affect somebody’s day to day life. However, seldom the voice and power given by the internet and social media is responsible for awareness campaigns such as “Kony 2012”. Unfortunately the harsh and brutal reality is, when people can hide behind computer screens, even gain anonymity if they wish, the darker side of a person quite often shines through and the system does not end up in “a really good place”.
Cyber bulling, the scourge of my generation and many generations to come is vicious, devastating and unapologetic. Before the days of social media and even widespread mobile phone ownership, let’s say pre 2000 bullying would generally take place in school corridors, maybe within clubs or organisations and within the workplace. Even though bullying was and always will be a traumatic experience, in those days it was escapable, a victim of bullying could go home, or to a friends house or anywhere really out side where they were being bullied and be free of it.
With the advent of social networking and text messages the torment of bullying has been made inescapable. Poisonously worded text messages, tormenting wall posts and mocking comments being fired at a person night and day by a coward hiding behind a computer screen is taking bullying to a whole new extreme. In my opinion cyber bullying is far more detrimental, vicious and calculated then ordinary bullying , because of the power a person can feel hiding behind a computer screen punching out letters, words ,sentences at a rapid pace not even facing the person the toxic words are aimed at. Internet famous “ former “site model” and myspace girl Leda Muir admitted she has been a victim of hurtful ,offensive and threatening messages on the internet and in the past was also guilty of sending them to other people. She describes the “instant rush” sending offensive messages gave her, and how she simply forgot about it minutes later. When she talks about receiving comments and messages similar to the ones she herself once sent, it is an entirely different experience.
She describes how each derogatory comment and message she received stayed with her for weeks, and how it made her feel belittled, humiliated and depressed even when she didn’t know any of the bullies personally. These bullies probably felt a similar rush to the one Leda described ,which probably comes from feeling “drunk on power” after all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the year two thousand and twelve cyber stalking was more common then physical harassment.
While in certain aspects it is similar to cyber bullying it is more disturbing, it is based on a twisted obsession with usually a single person with a determined and perverse want to control that person in some aspect. Unlike cyber bullies, cyber stalkers are not chasing an instant power high; they desire something much darker. The aim of a cyber stalker is to get their victim to yield to them in one way or another and may involve other people in this plan.
Social media enables these individuals to obtain information such as where you live, work and even who your family members are which in turn gives them the power to make threats to you online using this information. As extreme as it sounds anyone could be cyber stalked, even as it turns out, Mark Zuckerburg himself who probably has the most heavily protected profile on facebook.
His stalker Pradeep Manukonda attempted to contact both Zuckerburg and his sister Randi requesting money. When the police told him to cease contacting Zuckerburg , he ignored them and continued to send the facebook Ceo e-mails, hand written letters(in one of which he describes the “power to communicate) and flowers. He even went to the extent of travelling to face book’s main offices and even Mark Zuckerburg’s house.
This was evidently a traumatic experience for Zuckerburg has he took out a restraining order against his stalker , this is a prime example of when everyone is given power buy information obtained on the internet, things do not end in a good place. Finally the most sickening and disturbing threat on the internet, cyber paedophilia. 99% of children between the ages of twelve and seventeen have access to the internet and this is something cyber predators are well aware of.
Using chat rooms, web cam and an array of social networks paedophiles have the power to seek out potential victims. For example in two thousand and three , a man posted a message in a chat room requesting sexual favours in exchange for money, out of curiosity a pair of fourteen year old girls responded to this message and they were both violated. The man also texted the victims in order to intimidate and threaten them. This clearly illustrates how somebody can abuse the voice and power given to them by cyberspace to horrific effect.
When everyone is given a voice, and given power it is up to the person themselves how they use that power. Some my raise awareness, some my rise to fabled “internet fame” and some may just spend twenty minutes browsing their news feed. However the idea of the whole system ending up in a good place is one of fantasy, some people can turn into power hungry monsters online while others may abuse their voice and power for disturbing reasons. When you give every one a voice and everyone power, the system won’t end up in a really good place.
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