Online harassment happens every day and second of our lives. It is definitely a broad topic to discuss about and we are not quite sure about the problems we are having by getting harassed online and ways to solve them since digital culture is still something new to us. At times, it is hard to draw a line whether if online harassment is an actual harassment or just a joke that someone should just laugh and forget about. Online harassment is taken as something minor than getting harassed at school or work because it is easy to just get away from it since it is not something you face directly in your life.
It is easier for some people to just walk away from these and ignore the insults but it is also harder to walk away for others, who take these insults to the heart. By reading article Facing the Challenge of Online Harassment by Kania Kayyali and Danny O’brien, I noticed how and why “online bullies” bully another and also ways to prevent yourself from getting harassed online. Kayyali and O’brien states,
“The kind of harassment we are worried about happens when Internet users attract the attention of the wrong group or individual, and find themselves enduring extreme levels of targeted hostility, often accompanied by the exposure of their private lives”.
This indicates, by having our private lives exposed to the media and these “trolls” just make it easier for them to get to know us and figure out our soft spots. Once they know the victims background and soft spots, it is easier for them to attack their victims by simply saying things that they do not want to hear or even use personal images with disturbing comments to hurt them.
Once they know who you really are and your personal lives, they almost work as your friends who really are not your friends. I am sure you all have those “friends” that go behind your back and talk bad about you to other people… Don’t you?
If not, good for you. You are probably one of the coolest people of in the world.
But I am sure most of us can agree that there are horrible people out there who talk down on others to benefit themselves or even just to talk crap about others for fun! But by simply responding to these bullies, you can show them your emotions and weaknesses. Once they figure out what hurts you the most, it is easier for the bully to go in-depth about it and tear your apart.
So how do we deal these nasty people? Do we just ignore them and walk away from our problems? Kayyali and O’brien states,
“‘Don’t feed the trolls’—while it may work in some situations—is an insufficient response to this level of abuse, especially when a situation escalates from a few comments into an ongoing campaign. Some people have even been chased offline completely by the cumulative effects of unrelenting personal attacks or by serious threats to their safety, or the safety of their loved ones. When that happens, their voices have effectively been silenced”.
So do we have no way to stop them or ways to prevent ourselves from these awful bullies? THE ANSWER IS NO! THANK GOD. Kayyali and O’brien says you can respond to the bully with counter-speech, but you have to do it the right way. Counter-speech almost works like a counter-punch in a boxing match. If you do it the wrong way and be clumsy, the opponent is going to come at you with the harder hook and knock you out. As a defender, you have to sound smart and consider what the bully is going to say about your response.
Kayyali and O’brien states,
“one of the most effective methods to address online harassment is counter-speech. Counter-speech happens when supporters of targeted groups or individuals deploy that same communicative power of the Net to call out, condemn, and organize against behavior that silences others”.
I think this is true. If the bully comes at you with something you are not pleasant about, fight back! Use counter-speech! If the bully is harassing you, get him back with a harder one! This might be hard but it is definitely more effective than just sitting at home in front of your computer waiting for the bully to say something else about you.
There are also ways to prevent these bullies from even getting to you. Making your social media accounts private will help you drive the bullies away by bullies having no way to access your information or even talking to you. By doing this, these bullies will lose interest in bullying you or even waste their time trying to figure out ways to get to you.
Digital culture brought us a great way to communicate each other but many people are using it to hurt others so they can make themselves feel better or even just for fun. Unfortunately, there are also laws that help these online bullies too. Freedom of speech gives these bullies the right to speak about anything thing they want and many other laws that are poorly written are failing to protect us from these awful jerks. At times, these laws that are supposed to be used to protect us, end up helping the bullies when you want to legally solve these problems. This great communication tool can either do us good or bad. We have to be aware of these tactics to drive the bullies away and make new laws that protect us from these people.