Written By: Ryan Smith, Megan Meier Foundation Intern
The incredible technological advances over the last ten to fifteen years have greatly impacted our daily lives. We are able to communicate with individuals across the world in a matter of seconds, something that was once never imagined. Although technology has positively affected the way society functions as a whole, it has also severely damaged it in others.
At the forefront of these issues is the topic of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is defined as “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature.”
Cyberbullying has been a serious area of concern for years now and yet many people still refuse to acknowledge it. To truly understand the significance of cyberbullying we must take a step back and allow ourselves to consider the question…
Why do people cyberbully?
Below are just three of potentially hundreds of reasons why someone may partake in cyberbullying. The most important thing to keep in mind is that motives differ depending on the person and situation.
1. Emotion (anger, revenge, frustration)
Unfortunately, we live in a world that is always trying to one-up each other. The days of the old saying, “be the bigger man and walk away” are long gone – if you do that today, you risk being viewed as weak and inferior.
This generation (as a whole) has the inability to avoid conflict and resolve issues peacefully. Instead, the uncontrolled emotions of the situation take over and people seek revenge to take out their frustration.
Most people (especially teenagers/young adults) have a difficult time standing up for themselves face-to-face. However, behind a computer screen or a cell phone, they suddenly have the courage to say and do things they probably wouldn’t have said otherwise
As sad as it seems, the truth is there are people all around the world who have nothing better to do with their lives than to cause pain to others for no apparent reason. These individuals lack the intellect to decipher what is right and wrong morally.
Typically, most teenagers will hangout with their friends, join a sports/club team, or do their homework after school on any given day. This standard societal norm is accepted and repeated for children growing up in most cases, but there are the exceptions.
While some individuals who cyberbully others do it for deep embedded personal reasons (as discussed in point #1), there are others who do it as some sick type of fun and entertainment. These people may struggle to maintain friendships in reality and in turn, harass others in the virtual world.
Television shows such as MTV’s Catfish show us just how easy it is to destroy a person’s life through direct, anonymous attacks. Hopefully, the show is having a positive impact (educating others on the dangers of technology and what to be aware of) as opposed to a negative one (fueling more individuals to cyberbully because it looks so easy).
3. Power/Social Standing
Those who cyberbully others often do so with the main motivation being power and control. Generally, victims (especially young teenagers) will have a difficult time standing up for themselves when bullied which results in the attacker having full control of the situation.
his is particularly sad because the victims in these cases feel as though they are weak and neglect to tell any adult who can do something about it. Many have feelings of embarrassment that they got caught up in such a situation but they shouldn’t… this can happen to anyone.
When you really take the time to analyze cyberbullying, you’ll notice that the bullier is truly the person who is weak, not the victim. They may have very few friends, insecurities about their own lives, or have trouble fitting into society overall. In their minds, bullying potentially vulnerable people makes them feel powerful and have a higher social standing.
Deep embedded emotions, cruel entertainment purposes, and a deceptive social standing are just three of potentially hundreds of reasons why people engage in cyberbullying activity.
With improved techniques to educate not only the teenagers, but also the adults as well on the issue of cyberbullying, change for the better can and will be possible in the future.
You can help end the fight against cyberbullying.
Join the conversation using the hashtag #StopBullying and #BeTheChange.