Recently I attended a Cyberbullying community forum, where many people had the opportunity to speak about their own experiences. There was a considerable diversity of types and contexts of cyberbullying, and apparently different motives and methods by the perpetrators. However a couple of things jumped out and I felt to write about them.
It seems that young people who report being cyber-bullied are not being listened to or taken seriously by older people such as parents, teachers and others in authority roles relevant to them. The older generations do not seem to realize the extent to which younger people live a more ‘virtual’ life. They live and feel things in the virtual world just as strongly as the older people feel the more solid counterparts in the material world. But anyone who has ever been insulted, had private details shouted out publicly, been threatened, had their reputation tarnished, been falsely represented, lied about, stalked, socially punished for past foolish actions that they have subsequently ‘grown out of’, whether in cyberspace or 3D material space, should be able to relate to the severity of the hurt that young people feel when being cyberbullied. Young people can become depressed, suicidal, angry, in retreat from family and social interaction and life in general, slide downwards in school work, etc. These should never be taken lightly and the causes must be addressed. Responsibility rests equally all around: with the youth, the parents, teachers, authorities, the whole society and last but not least the cyberbullies themselves.
A lot of the focus on helping the targets of cyberbullying is on youth, with classes, support programs and websites for them and the adults who care for them. But not enough. However what also stood out is that even mature adults who report being cyber-bullied are not being listened to or taken seriously by the authorities that they report incidents to, such as government agencies and the courts. There seems to be a sense of ‘you’re an adult, get over it; it’s not important’, but this is far from the truth. Adults have had lives threatened, reputations and careers destroyed, their children persecuted and endangered, and incurred massive sums of money fighting legal battles. They can suffer the ill-effects just as severely as the young people. This is not OK. NONE of it is OK.
Failure of communication, failure of listening
These two failures of communication – both of authorities listening to youth, and a different group of authorities listening to adults – are related and must be addressed and changed. By writing this blog I’m calling for change in the attitudes of all in my generation, and the one before me, and the ones after me.
We need to…
We as a society need to take action to increase the awareness of the reality and seriousness of cyber-bullying. Much of this increase in awareness can come from people in the community sharing and expressing and working together, as we have begun to do, eg. at the forum, but that we also need to find ways of increasing the awareness of authorities and legislators.
And each of us can?….
Yet there’s something that every single person can do, whether alone or with help, and that is to re-connect to that innermost truth and authority that is the legacy of all humans. From there, we can feel the truth, not be intimidated, and do what feels right to us.
The fact of the lies often hurts far more than the content of the lies themselves. Humans have a natural pull to truth, and anything that goes in the opposite direction, that reveals just how far from love and truth we live as a humanity, will hurt anyone who comes in contact with it directly or indirectly, and in fact, it hurts us all.