I received messages a few days ago informing me that cyberbullying is not a problem. I guess the sender wanted me to know I’d wasted my time writing Gray Zone.
“Turn off the !@#$% computer! Problem solved,” was one message he wrote.
Anger oozed from his messages like pus from an infected wound. Which made me wonder what had wounded him so deeply that he thought it was okay to use profanity towards a perfect stranger.
Okay, so maybe I’m not so perfect. But that’s not the point. We’re not friends, buds, or even acquaintances. We’re strangers.
But I’ll disregard his total lack of web manners and address the feasibility of his ‘solution’.
Because simply turning off the computer solves nothing.
Oh sure, it’ll keep one type of negativity spewer away. The kind that goes around randomly attacking everyone and anyone they find on the Internet. Stay away from the virtual world and it is possible to stay away from their disgusting, virtual spit.
But those aren’t the bullies I wrote about in Gray Zone. The ones in Gray Zone, the ones most common to teens, use the Internet as a tool, but not the only tool.
Turn off the computer and the victim will receive hateful phone calls and texts.
Put away the cell phone and the victim will be tormented by the laughter and whispers of fellow students as they ‘enjoy’ an embarrassing video, picture, or comment. At the victim’s expense, of course.
Ignore the whispers and the victim will find that friends are suddenly too busy to hang out, especially when rumors and embarrassing pictures of the victim flood their school.
Because the cyberbullies teens have to deal with quite often go to school with their victims, live in the neighborhood, and have a front row seat to the drama they create with their torture.
So go ahead, pull the plug on the computer if it makes you feel better.
It’ll do very little to short-circuit the power trip that makes a bully, a bully.