Death by Cyber Bullying

Some months ago, I wrote a post on MySpace Suicide victim, Megan Meier who was also a victim of cyber bullying via the popular social networking site, MySpace.

The recent suicide of Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil, due to cyber violence and cyber bullying has created interest again in the subject. In fact, some see this as a scary, growing trend as society gets more wired up.

According to Wikipedia, cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.

The recent case involving the Korean actress, was actually sparked by an earlier suicide by her fellow actor, Ahn Jae Hwan, as online gossip blamed her for his death. Overwhelmed by the hate mail and cyber attacks, and depressed by the her perception that the whole world hated her, she sought to take her own life.

The recent suicides caused by cyber bullying has turned attention to something that is seen to be widespread and should cause widespread concern. According to an online article, cyber bullying ” can occur on social networking sites and in e-mail and text messages … Sometimes cyber-bullying involves taunting or threatening e-mail or text messages or putting embarrassing pictures or personal attacks on teen networking sites like MySpace or Facebook”.

The cyber harrassment can even be carried out by people in authority and who should know better, as shown in the AsiaOne special on cyber bullying! of course, the playing field is also leveled as even the quietest and meekest person such as the sweet and quiet girl in class could also turn out to be a cyber bully, emboldened by the anonymity of the web and the misconception that one can say just about anything online.

A friend of mine who teaches in an eminent local educational institution recently told me about a case of cyberbullying involving two girls. The cyber bullying took the form of extreme flaming in blogs – lots of name-calling with various colourful interjections of expletives. He was shocked when he met the cyber bully – she was the quietest girl in class and he hardly heard a word out of her! Yet, she was blaring, flaming, fuming, venting, ranting away online. It’s as if she’d reserved all her words for her torrents of hatred online. That goes to show, you can’t always tell a cyber bully by his/her cover. or perhaps, there’s a cyber bully in all of us? That’s a dangerous thought, indeed.

 According to an online news story, two South Korean celebrities had already committed suicide due to cyber attacks on their websites. Choi’s suicide has provoked more urgent measures by the Korean government and it’s been pushing for “a law to curb the country’s notorious cyber bullying by preventing internet users hiding behind fake IDs. Major portals and news media websites must now record the real identity of people who post entries. Portal operators are also bound to disclose this information when victims of attacks want to sue for libel or infringement of privacy”.

Thankfully, individuals as well as organisations have started to take steps to educate society on cyber bullying and its consequences, and a number of also come up with strategies to stop cyber bullying and develop programmes to help vicitms cope with it.

The following are some available online:

http://www.cyberbullying.info/ (with Detective Henshaw)

http://yp.direct.gov.uk/cyberbullying/

http://www.ssagsg.org/LearningSpace/EntertainmentGaming/CyberBullying.htm

http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adult/indexAdult.asp?Area=cyberbullying

http://www.ncpc.org/cyberbullying

http://www.cyberbullying.us/

http://www.cyberbullying.ca/

Well, it may be too late to save people like Choi who have been unfortunate vicitms of cyber bullying. Let’s hope that this terrible trend could be reversed in time and others saved. Society needs to be on the look out for cyber bullies as well as victims of cyber bullies, and both groups, yes the cyber bullies too, need to be handled with care and sensitivity.

What do you think is the best way to handle cyber bullying?

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About blogscapes
An intrepid explorer into the the brave new dimensions of the blogosphere and new media landscape.

8 Responses to Death by Cyber Bullying

  1. 2ton says:

    Last time I dropped in, the subject was about how much the internet can help with promoting your subject of choice. Today, it is the other side of the coin. I guess man has a way of turning just about everything into both good and bad uses. IMHO, I think all posts should be traceable by the proper authorities using the proper channels, so that perpetrators can be identified. I do not care for censorship, and I like my privacy, but I have nothing to hide if authorities did happen to check out something I posted. And usually, those that complain the most about privacy issues, have something to hide. I say, if you don’t want the world to know it, don’t post it.

  2. blogscapes says:

    Hi 2ton,

    Good to hear from you again!

    Regarding the issue of traceability, I’m pretty sure the technology is available now to do that – I mean, we leave our digital footprints all over the place and it’s been said that something once put on the net, can never be erased. But I believe people are still pretty resistant to it as it smacks of ‘big brother’ but then again, if that helps to curb abuses like cyber bullying, it’s worth looking into.

    Btw, I like what you’ve been doing with the Mig site!

  3. 2ton says:

    Thanx. I have gotten into ‘photochopping’ in a bigger way. I love learning all the different processes, but it is so time comsuming! I am afraid that the internet in general is too time consuming! But then, it sure isn’t any worse time-wise than those who are constantly texting! At least I can’t drive when online, although with an iPhone, I guess I could!

  4. blogscapes says:

    Hi 2ton,

    The learning doesn’t stop, does it! There’s so much that’s new in new media out there! Kudos to you for doing so much!

  5. Jensen says:

    I felt that the passing of the korean actress Choi Jin Sil, might have had something to do with stress or other mental issues. The reason for Choi’s suicide was stated as “Overwhelmed by the hate mail and cyber attacks, and depressed by the her perception that the whole world hated her,” as quoted from the original post. However, I thought it might have been more than just that.

    Firstly, we have to look at how “the whole world” was defined? Statistically, the whole world houses approximately 6.855 billion people based on a population counter on ibiblio.org. So what exactly constitutes “the whole world” as mentioned, that caused such intense displeasure in Choi such that she had to end her own life.

    Secondly if like what Choi alleged, that the whole world hated her, then I wonder, what actually propelled her to fame? From my understanding, hatred wouldn’t propel someone to media/spotlight fame. (I wouldn’t deny that news spotlight might have been possible). I also wonder why I don’t hate her. In fact I didn’t even know her or anything about her prior to her fatal endeavour. I guess many others, for example the millions in africa who don’t even have televisions or any communication devices, would agree with me.

    Therefore, could it have been other elements that contributed to her suicide? By that, I am not brushing away the possibility that cyber bullying could really have taken a toll on her, but i highly suspect that the suicide wasn’t simply just due to cyber bullying. The hate mails and cyber attacks could’ve just been the icing on the cake.

    Also, i agree with 2ton that there should be a certain degree of traceability in online postings. However, privacy issues are more touchy and complicated than what has been mentioned by 2ton. The fact that we don’t know certain facts or whether certain claims are true or bogus, would probably warrant the right to post freely online. The reason is that, having an authority to act as a filter for online content, would probably cause the formation of a lopsided virtual world, as each person’s judgement varies from the other’s.

    Thus, with so much to consider, i believe that the humanity should be given more time in order to arrive at a plausible solution for such a tricky issue.

  6. blogscapes says:

    Hi Jensen,

    Thanks for your views. You’re probably right in saying that there are other factors leading to the suicide. She was probably suffering much stress already and getting all that hate mail and cyber taunts must have pushed her over the edge!

  7. Battlefront campaigner Al Henderson has a hilarious new video for his anti cyber-bullying campaign. Check it out at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=oANijY8TmDY and get involved!

  8. blogscapes says:

    Hi Eliza,

    Thanks for your comment and link to the meaningful campaign to highlight the problem of cyber-bullying.

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