Trolls or Bullies?

Just read a great article called Online, Anonymity Breeds Contempt via NYTimes.com which provided a great definition of trolling…

Trolling, defined as the act of posting inflammatory, derogatory or provocative messages in public forums

and that psychological research has proven again and again that anonymity increases unethical behaviour and that people — even ordinary, good people — often change their behaviour in radical ways – especially when given anonymity. The post urges people to:

  • stop allowing anonymous comments
  • moderate comments and forums
  • use comment services, and
  • report trolls

But what about the core issue here? That another definition for troll is bully?
It seems to me that our society’s values are eroding at a rapid rate. Children are choosing suicide to escape unchecked bullying. Schools are trying to counter it with character building and social skills, but it’s simply not enough.

As parents, we need to teach our children to pity bullies. Bullying is a coping mechanism for poor social skills and low self-esteem. Unfortunately, bullies don’t usually understand karma — “What goes around comes around.” That’s why we also need to teach our children that bullying sickens both victims and witnesses, and even if these people aren’t strong enough to make a stand, they’ll likely distance themselves from the bully.

But it’s not only kids who need to learn how to play nice in the sandbox! Some adults use social media as a fast, easy way to spew their venom. These cyber-bullies hide behind excuses that ‘the public needs to know’ and ‘everyone has a right to their opinion.’ What of human kindness and doing unto others? Or the bad example they’re setting for our youth? Even if they don’t notice people cringing and quietly retreating, surely they get the hint when engagement drops on their social media spaces?

Love a quote I just saw on Duchess O’Blunt’s Facebook page that trolls of all ages should read…

“You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.”

Thanks for sharing Duchess! It’s so true and although I’m not sure there’s hope for the adult cyber-bullies out there, perhaps it will help our youth!

2 thoughts on “Trolls or Bullies?”

  1. There is always two sides to everything and while social networking has it's very good uses, there will always be those who abuse it for just the type of thing you are speaking of Sue.
    I agree – it is a total shame that our young people are so exposed to this type of abuse, both in cyberspace and in their very public face to face communities. Often they are too young and inexperienced to know how to deal with it. And if they don't have an open line of communication with their families, it's just so much harder for them.
    Good post.

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