The behaviour of people continues to astound me. I know that we regulate each other´s acts, we wouldn´t do things in front of another that we knew were wrong or a bit unsavoury, but that doesn´t stop us from picking our noses from time to time in the comfort of the privacy of our bathroom does it? But nose picking, or spot squeezing or whatever is nothing, it´s just something that we don´t really want to watch. Try out and out harassment and intimidation of other people, you wouldn´t normally see that in public either, would you?
I´ve witnessed a rash of cyber harassment online recently. If you don´t know what that is then the definition of it is when a person is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another person using digital technologies. What people wouldn´t say or do in front of each other seems to have become quite acceptable behaviour when they are in they´re in front of their computer and at liberty. Like digital road rage there have been furious outbursts unleashed in Facebook groups based inMallorcathis week. What´s happened to make everyone so angry?
For one thing, in my opinion, some people who use online social network sites are not adept at expressing themselves in word form. There is an element of clumsiness, sometimes people don´t intend to cause the offence that they cause with their words, and it can just be a question of writing what you want to say and reading and re-reading to make sure that you have said it clearly without being rude or leaving room for other possible interpretations. You can write, read and then publish and if you realise you´ve said the wrong thing you can still have the possibility to delete. Perhaps it also had something to do with “Blue Monday” which was this week: it´s said to be the saddest day of the year, when we are all back to work and staring down the barrel of a credit card bill, or tax demand and looking at a very long eleven months until Christmas comes round again. So perhaps we´re just feeling a bit low. Or perhaps everyone needs to get out more and mix with actual people. The intimidating and unecessary public exchanges I have seen this week between people who don´t even know each other in real life has made my mind reel.
If grown ups are behaving like this to each other: firing insults and making public statements and accusations, then how can we expect children to be kind to each other? So, if you see it happening online to other people, or you´re tempted to have a go at someone yourself then stop. The cyber bullying sites for children recommend that you take five minutes before responding to something you might encounter online. Drop the mouse and step away from the computer and no one will get hurt! Kids are encouraged to find a way to calm down, perhaps through some deep breathing or getting outside and playing a game, talking to a parent or friend or giving a teddy bear a hug. All of this could be transferred without exception to be used by adults too. Or, hey, why not suggest to your Facebook buddies that you meet up for a coffee, and really get to know each other properly? Just a thought.