I recently went through some things online that set me to thinking about cyber bullying. It is a very real problem that is out there on the internet today. I have two children who use the internet and since I am technologically savvy, I am lucky enough to be aware that cyber bullying exists and educate them about it.
In spite of being a techie, even I have been a victim of it. People on the internet who engage in this kind of behavior are not just kids, some of them are very clever adults. They are individuals who are so wrapped up in their own desires or pains, that they can’t see that their actions and words are painful to the people they are engaging with online. They are clever and say things like, “I was just joking.” and “Don’t be so serious!” taking away their responsibility for saying painful things. After so long, those painful words start to hurt. When the victim brings it up, they look like a drama monger and fear even saying anything. They begin to internalize the issue and this can lead to depression, anger, and even suicide.
The bully may be experiencing their own pain, or think they are just making light fun. Either way the anonymity of the internet makes it easy. They don’t have to see the hurt in the other person’s eyes, or the anger, or the pain. They only have words on a screen. Not the other person in front of them.
Even if asked to stop, there is little emotion in words on a screen, and there is the catch all phrase, “I was just joking, chill out.” There is no one to tell them what they are doing is wrong. No one the victim to turn to if they could. The bully can just turn off the computer. They can go do something else, and never suffering any consequences for any of the actions they have taken. They can have a good laugh and go on about their day. It is all very cathartic for the one doing the bullying.
When I was a kid growing up, the internet was in its’ birthing stages. BBS’ were still a thing. People who were behind the computers were the same people I hung out with at the local bookstores and coffee shops and played D&D with. Because I was logging into a person’s local computer server to play games and trade files.
If someone was rude to me as a kid, or vice versa (as was just as often the case), my mom and their mom had words, and one or both of us got our computers taken away for a week or two. Like any other kid with their hobbies. So we had to play nice.
The community in the 90’s technology age was very different than today. Now I log into the gaming world and it is like wading through muck and mire. I find myself wondering where I fit in. Children are able to create macros to do what I once took pride in, and now spend more of their time firing off hate speech towards one another, than creating new brilliant things. Trolling used to be about being witty and clever, now its about being cruel and viscous.
I watch as the state of gaming is degraded by cyber bullying. No where is safe. I have to ask myself where did all these people come from that are causing so much grief and sorrow across all these platforms. Why is this happening?
I have yet to get into a guild without someone being “the troll”. It seems like now that is the accepted reality and we should all just deal with it. Is it O.K. now to treat others with disrespect in the name of it being a joke? Is it O.K. now to say things that are hurtful to others simply because you don’t have to answer to anyone and can walk away from the computer? Because they can’t retaliate or there are no real consequences?
The consequences are there. The consequences can be seen in the above graphics, the teens committing suicide, the depression as a result of cyber bullying, the decline in community and family style atmosphere in gaming online, the rise in toxic atmosphere online, and the traits and actions we are teaching our children to perpetuate in the next generation.
The bottom line. Cyber bullying is killing our games and our kids. Stop it.