**Editor’s Note: This is a piece written my former TGS member, Brett Stiles, who has now moved on to greener pastures.**
Unless you have lived in a cave for the past 20 years and are just resurfacing to the 21st century (let me be the first to welcome you back), social media is everywhere and for the most part, unavoidable. Especially if you want to be able to keep current on news, friends, sports teams, etc. You’re probably reading this article right now thanks to either Twitter or Facebook. The point is, social media has brought us closer together. The information the world provides to us has been condensed to 140 characters or less.
What I want to dive into is cyber bullying.
Social media makes the world smaller, because of this it also gives us the protection of animosity and responsibility from our actions online. This allows people to bully someone from across the country with no fear of repercussions. People take advantage of this, and use the medium of social media to spit venom and malicious attacks at one another. Some people justify it as trash talking; but trash talking is one thing. Most people can tell when they’re being trash talked vs. being bullied. Maliciously attacking someone’s character, such as degrading someone’s appearance, religion, personality are examples of such bullying. This needs to stop. This doesn’t mean that everything we say on social media nowadays needs to include a hashtag for #triggerwarnings (that’s a different beast altogether and something we can talk about in another article).
Someone once set a goal to “Make Twitter fun again”. To be honest I don’t recall who it was, probably some twitter account destined to be lost in the pages of social media history forever. Whoever that unsung hero is, this cold Miller Lite is for you. Cheers.
The good news is there is something we can do to stop cyber bullying. It’s called bystander intervention. It means if you witness cyber bullying, say something. As an online community if we bring attention to unwanted behavior we can help deter that behavior. How you bring attention to the behavior is important though, you don’t want to attack a bully online. This only adds to the problem and will escalate the situation. A simple comment of “Please stop bullying”, or any variant, will be efficient. People don’t like when their negative behavior is put in the spotlight for the world to see. If enough people draw attention to the bad behavior then it will help de-escalate the situation. We are human. We make mistakes. Sometimes we are not the victim. We are the person bullying. If emotions and passion gets the better of you, I encourage you to reach out and apologize. As an online community if we join together along with bystander intervention, then we can deter cyber bullying. This small act can go a long way in helping make twitter fun again.