I used to spend time trying to make people see that when we are online and see people being abused, we need to speak up. I lost a lot of "friends", found myself in the middle of messes that I had no desire to be in. After awhile, I gave it up and turned away from those type of problems. However, today I read something that made me sorry I had changed my ways.
I was reading a post about the bullying of someone and in the comments someone else pointed out the number of teens who are committing suicide due to bullying and the message we are sending them by ignoring their problems. When I was in school, bullying took place in the schoolyard and sometimes at home via the telephone. When it occurred that way, usually we hung up the phone and the victim was left in peace until the next school day. There were friends and loved ones that helped salve the wounds. We could speak to them without the information being spread around the world. Unfortunately thanks to today's social media and the internet, these kids have no place to go to stay away from it unless they don't try to make other friends online.
Everything said to them is pretty visible. Online bullying is VERY visible. So, what do you think these teens are taking away from their situation when all of the people who read these posts don't say a single word? It would seem to me that the deafening silence from every one else would lead them to believe there is no hope of ever finding peace and acceptance.
I wonder what it must feel like to be that victim and witness the total lack of compassion for their plight? The complete absence of a kind word for them or the lack of defense that they must be quietly praying for? No one to stand up and defend them? No one condemns the perpetrators, no one says STOP IT!
So they read between the lines, these victims of an angry, mean society and they decide their situation is hopeless. They're helpless to stop the torment in any other way except the final solution of suicide. Both Facebook and Twitter have Terms of Service that specifically say bullying is not allowed. Yet, when these bullies are brought to the attention of the powers that be, nothing is ever done. It's "Free Speech" and they won't suspend or revoke an account's privilege to post when the Constitution defends our Freedom of Speech. The tormentors are defended, the victims are not.
We are protected by the First Amendment, but are we protected against anything except government interference? Do we have the right to use speech to verbally abuse, harass and bully anyone we choose? I don't believe we do. There comes a point where we have to take responsibility for our actions. We can't pick up a gun or knife and shoot or stab someone without consequences. Why do we have the right to injure someone with words without consequences?
Sadly, until we resolve these issues, and honestly try to stop bullying, our kids will continue to take matters into their own hands and end their misery once and for all. As long as we stand silently by and not defend them, we are condoning their torment. We are almost as bad as the bullies.