Keyboard Courage

There is a new phenomenon exploding beneath us, and it’s something I like to call Keyboard Courage. It refers to the ability to say things that, in face-to-face context, you wouldn’t normally say. It can range from anything between a shy guy texting a girl to see if she’d like to date him, to unfortunately more notably, cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying “is using technology to deliberately and repeatedly bully someone. It can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere and can leave you feeling unsafe and alone.” In short, it’s just not nice. It occurs most commonly in young people and every 1 in 3 adolescents receive online threats, with at least half of all adolescents and teens experiencing cyberbullying at some stage in their youth.

Keyboard courage enables these “bullies” to say what they want, when they want, without them having to undergo any consequences because they can remain anonymous, and essentially do not have a conscience in the online world. It takes the once already problematic matter of bullying to a whole new level. Not only can these insecure, faceless tormenters insult their target, but can also:

  • Send threats and insults instantaneously
  • Post hurtful or threatening messages publically on a persons Facebook etc
  • Steal a person’s account information to then break into the persons account and send more harmful messages
  • Be active in ‘sexting’
  • Spread rumours more rapidly and effectively online
  • Pretend to be somebody they are not

Psychotherapist, Susie Orbach provides her insight on the matters of misogyny against women writers:

“The deeper question is the disenfranchisement of men who find themselves in such depraved circumstances that all they can do is expel the fury that’s inside of them on to women. The reaction these men are having shows they are very, very threatened by something and that threat is to their masculinity.”

Although this is directed specifically at gender issues, the underlying message can be translated across multiple areas of concern, including cyber bulling. What personal circumstances or mess must these ‘bullies’ be drowning in that causes them to inflict hatred online to other young people?

As easy as it is to picture these people as young, childish boys giggling behind their computer monitor, and put the blame on their immaturity and cowardice, the truth is that it’s not that simple. These ‘bullies’ could be anybody, and that’s what gets me thinking. The anonymity of the online sphere creates a broad disconnection between the victim and the culprit. The Internet gives people a sort of, invisibility cloak. It allows them to snoop around unknowingly, and evokes a sense of invincibility into the users – if people don’t know my name, I am essentially untouchable (or so they think).

The dark side of the Internet is truly disgusting – why must people inevitably tarnish all that seems good? Just when we think the world is becoming a more egalitarian place, the insecurities of individuals force them to put on their mask’s, start up their computer, and let the trash talk begin! It really is far too easy for us to do, and it becomes hard to decipher whether it is wrong or not. How does one determine between bullying and, say, constructive criticism?

Blogger, Kristin Marie puts it blatantly: “If you wouldn’t say it, you shouldn’t text it. So either tighten up those thumbs or gain some courage!” – It’s essentially the old saying my mum would rattle off when I’d call my sister a nasty name, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. To that I say, amen! Either keep your mouths shut bullies, or at least scramble up the dignity to do it in person.

For further reference, please see below:

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