THE INHUMANITY OF SOCIAL NETWORKS – It appears there is not a month that goes by without the international press publishing yet another story of a teenager who has taken their own life due to online bullying.
Last October, 15 year old Tallulah Wilson became yet another victim of online bullying. After being sucked into the vile taunts of other online users, Tallulah took to self harming before finally throwing herself under a train.
Still very much in the public eye is the sad story of 14 year old Izzy Dix, who also took her life after being subjected to months of bullying from other teens on Facebook.
Today it has been announced by the Culture Secretary Maria Miller that she is to call upon the bosses of Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to do more about the complaints they receive of online bullying; Ms. Miller is to demand that they take quicker action and move decisively to quell any such behaviour and subsequently report any abuse to the police.
Images Above – Left: Tallulah Wilson | Right: Izzy Dix
Last year Facebook, in order to boost the numbers of their registered users, announced that it was dropping the registration age limit to just 13. Whilst this caused outrage among parents and parent groups it was in fact irrelevant for it was already widely acknowledged that many of the registered accounts were from young teenagers who simply entered an appropriate date of birth in order to join.
It is almost certain that we are never going to completely stamp out bullying, whether it occurs online or on the playground and tragically Tallulah won’t be the last victim; as I write this there are probably dozens of cases of bully occurring at this very moment.
The real issue is our current state of social conditioning; that it is law and order is no longer feared but rather sneered at. Within cyberspace many lurk around looking for another victim under their perceived cloak of anonymity and rarely do they consider the full implications of their vile acts upon others.
Some feel that humanity is becoming more and more detached from humanitarian issues in that we care very little for our fellow human beings and the social networks are simply fuelling the detachment from reality.
The truth is that we live among good and evil and the internet with all its ability to allow us to interact on a much wider social basis will inevitably attract those who wish to promote misery and ultimately drive someone to take own life.
Ms. Miller is right that the social networks need to be far more proactive and it’s certainly not beyond their remit or technological capabilities; some advocates believe that if the social networks spent as much time and resources on stamping out online bullying as they do with mining data for advertising purposes then online bullying could be significantly reduced.
Of course the social network corporations must generate revenue in order to maintain operations but the question being asked more frequently is … ‘At what cost?’ That is how many children must commit suicide before the social networks decide that lives must come before profits; of course that would be a humanitarian approach whereas the corporation are more interested in the bottom line in terms of the price of their stock.
A number of analysts are predicting the downfall of social media, in particular Facebook, within the next year or two and for some parents their collapse won’t come soon enough for they now have to live with the knowledge that a social network provided a pathway for some to effectively coerce their child into taking their own life.
On the other side of the issue maybe we should all take responsibility in that parents should monitor their child’s online social activities and that anyone coming across bullying should immediately report it to the social network administrators and the authorities.
When humans work together for the greater good then nothing is beyond being achieved; again collectively we can make a vast difference but only if we unite in such a cause, the last question therefore facing us is whether we can turn our backs and simply ignore what occurs and ultimately put aside our humanity when a life is lost.
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