Death by Cyber Bullying
20, October, 2008 8 Comments
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)
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?