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Tag - cyber-bullying

When the Social Media Circus Leaves Town

David Bowie died almost two months ago. Soon after, we posted about the tawdry British reality TV show making money from his ex-wife’s reactions. Inevitably, her presence on the show at the time and her response to the news created a social media firestorm.
Focus, of course has moved on to the latest deaths, tragedies, political intrigues and sporting victories / defeats. But it’s worth pondering the enduring impact that not being news has on the people who were previously at the centre of the world’s attention. Or at least, the attention of those on Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms.
Some crave re-gaining their anonymity. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to be related to a global celebrity. There are countless examples of wives, children, parents and siblings of celebrities doing things that reflect negatively – funny isn’t it that it’s always the bad behaviour that grabs the headlines – on their famous relation. Others try to make money from their association

Others, it seems, miss the limelight and do whatever they can to re-capture the attention.
Social media reflects the best and worst of human nature and consequently can destroy as much as it can create. The most popular blog post we’ve ever written by a factor of two discusses ’How social media is helping to beat cyber-bullying‘. There have been far too many examples of social media attention driving people to despair – or worse.
So what’s the take out? Unless you have a clear plan and can stick to that plan, be very wary about exposing yourself too much in these very public forums. While it’s tempting to seek approval and show the world how amazingly fabulous your life is, the other side of the coin can show itself quickly and easily. Someone can post nasty or incriminating content about you and your whole carefully crafted image can come crumbling down. Footballer Mitchell Pearce has recently found that out to his great cost.
We’re quite active on social media but we’re also very selective about what we do and don’t post. In other words, we try to have a foot in both camps: active yet under the radar. When we launched a new business some years ago the media we generated brought several anonymous cowards out of the woodwork posting all manner of nasty comments about the business and me. Or so I was told. I still believe my reaction to our own social media maelstrom was perfect: I didn’t read any of it and never have.
In Greek mythology, Icarus ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun and subsequently fell to earth when his feather and wax wings melted. We see the social media equivalent all the time.
Here’s the key point: you don’t need to be on social media. Or at least you don’t need to be constantly posting photos and videos of every coffee you drink, croughnut you eat or person you kiss. You are entitled to a life where every aspect of it is not pored over by others some of whom may have no good will toward you.
Like sugar, social media can be addictive as it gives you an immediate buzz. But like sugar, the longer-term consequences of living your life on social media can be harmful - or worse.
Images:

Hang Gliding

Amanda’s story

A young girl’s call for help posted on social media went unanswered. Share it today to help end cyber-bullying
It’s the worst possible ending to a cyber-bulling situation: a young girl, faced with what she thought was the only option, took her own life.
It is, sadly, a situation that has played out time and time again over the past few years, especially since technological advances – from mobile phones to, particularly, social media – has allowed bullying to spread beyond the confines of the schoolyard and into every aspect of teenagers’ lives.
Amanda Todd was a 15-year-old girl living in British Columbia, Canada. When she was 12, an older man convinced her to ‘flash’ a webcam. He then cyber-stalked her, sending the images to her school friends and creating numerous fake Facebook profiles in order to continue to harass her.
Because of the photos, Amanda was subjected to intense and ongoing bullying, despite twice changing schools in an attempt to escape it. She had a history of self-harm and had attempted to take her life several times, and still the bullying continued.
Amanda Todd made a YouTube video last month, detailing what she had been through. She doesn’t speak in the video, but holds up handwritten notes detailing the bullying that plagued her through her short adolescence. It ends, heartbreakingly, with the words ‘I have nobody. I need someone. My name is Amanda Todd.’

A month later, she is dead.
Amanda’s death will always remain a senseless tragedy. The video, however, has the potential to educate people about the effect their words can have on other human beings. It can also serve as a warning for the younger generation to beware how much they share online. As for the man who tortured and shamed Amanda with the photo she was too young to know not to take – we hope he feels the full extent of the law and knows he is in part to blame for the death of a beautiful young girl.
October is anti-bullying month. Share Amanda’s video – and her story. Bullying kills, and a world where cruelty is literally killing our children is a world we need to change. Now.
 
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How social media is helping beat cyber-bullying

Social media and online content have been blamed for the rise of cyber-bullying – and now they are being used to counter it
The traditional media loves a cyber-bullying story, and while cynics may argue that the level and tone of the coverage owes much to the Fourth Estate’s desire to put the young interloper that is social media in its place, the ubiquity and scope of online content and social media channels make the issue impossible to ignore.
The issue reached its peak following the suicide of a young Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, whose college roommate posted a secretly filmed video on YouTube of him having sex. With so much of the sad saga played out via social media channels – from the initial video posting, to the offending roommate tweeting his intentions to repeat his actions, to Tyler’s chilling suicide note on Facebook – there is no doubt that social media was a main agent in the whole affair.
Because of its reach, cyber-bullying can have a devastating impact on a young person’s life. A schoolyard bully has limited scope within which to humiliate and torment, but an online bully can seem unstoppable. The immediacy and sheer reach of social media means that the reactions to being embarrassed on such a forum are equally exaggerated. It’s bad enough to feel like your whole school is laughing behind your back, but the whole world?
But while social media and online content have the potential to inflame and multiply the effects of bullying, they can also be successfully harnessed to provide a solution to the problem.
Beating the bullies
Several organisations are already doing just that, with MTV launching Draw Your Line, a visualisation tool that encourages young people to take action against digital abuse and share these actions and tips with others. The tool is part of A Thin Line, an organisation dedicated to decreasing digital abuse and bullying, and protecting children and young adults from the dangers of an increasingly online world.
Closer to home, the Inspire Foundation, an Australian youth organisation, runs Reach Out, a program designed to improve mental health and increase general wellbeing among young people. Understanding the world in which its audience moves, the program makes heavy use of social media, with blogging platforms, an online community and a highly interactive website that targets everything from young people dealing with mental illness and alcohol abuse to home problems and cyber-bullying.
It is a prime example of the ways in which the same channels that have enabled cyber-bullying weapons can be used to successfully counter it. The Australian Government has also sought to address the issue through its cybersmart website and dedicated YouTube channel.
Social media is a conduit through which society operates. Of itself, it is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’, but it magnifies the good and the bad that exists – and has always existed – in society. The fact that it is successfully being used to counter something as insidious as bullying is surely a good thing.
 
 
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