BC United’s Stance on College Bullying
Being an Active Bystander Online
Bridgewater, Va. – People around the world are more connected than ever before. At the tips of our fingers is instant information that allows us to stay in contact with people oceans away.
The internet has generated new ways for people to produce creative solutions to complex problems; it has created greater social welfare by funding philanthropic and social enterprises to aid in lifting people out of poverty. It has even helped us to connect with people that have similar interests and engagements as ourselves.
However, the internet has also paved the way for cyberbullying. Because of the almost seamless connection with our screens, we can believe the falsehood that what happens in the cyber world has less of an effect than in the real world, but as most anti-bullying campaigns state, cyberbullying is an ever-present danger to all who are online.
One mistake uploaded in the form of a video, picture or post and the barrage of negativity can be almost immediate. Is technology to blame for an increase in bullying? Does the faux sense of anonymity that comes with the internet give us the ability to say what we really believe? Or does it give us the opportunity to lash out on others, from the harms that we have been unable to heal in our own lives? Do we really put ourselves in the victim’s shoes’ when we post a comment that is construed as anything but kind?
These questions are important to keep in mind when navigating the vast array of information and emotions that are present in the online world.
The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in a problematic situation.
However, this same phenomenon is exemplified on the internet, through a seemingly endless array of people are posting nasty comments about one another. The constant barrage of negativity online seems unavoidable.
Despite this, we must remember that we all matter and we all make mistakes. If we choose to participate in the world of online connection, we must work to keep in mind bystander intervention and how we can intervene when people are in need.
This, just like in physical situations, can take many forms: posting comments that work to negate or diffuse the harassment that experienced online, connecting with the victim offline and making sure they are okay, and potentially encouraging the victim to visit our counseling services so they can speak with someone in a safe and honest environment. Though many unique situations can arise online, if we keep in mind that those on the other side of the screen have their own problems, we can help create positivity in what can be a daunting world.
So remember, act in a way that is thoughtful, and practice bystander intervention, even in your online presence!