No room for bullying in today’s cyberspace

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I have little patience for bullying.

Bullying is divisive and promotes anger, which over time leads to uncontrolled aggressive behaviors by those who are belittled.

In some cases, bullying pushes good people away from an organization, which in itself can have a tremendous impact on the morale of that enterprise. Technology has helped us with democratizing our thoughts and opinions, but many times at the price of allowing people to share their bullying thoughts freely.

Let me make this more real for you.

On Facebook alone, we find literally hundreds of thousands of people endorsing bullying all over the place. It is not uncommon for people to see screenshots of people being beaten on Facebook, along with bullying hate speech. Modern-day social media is only a step beyond the laws of the jungle or the Wild Wild West, in a lot of respects.

Let me make something very clear. I have seen a lot of bullying online and it is toxic. Please stop! Let’s get along, shall we?

Bullying, however, is real, alive and well. Technology has empowered millions of people to display and share their acts of hate toward others! I know that this reality sounds crazy, but it happens every day all over social media.

Sure, we can use these social media tools to communicate with family and friends, or to shout bullying remarks at innocent people in this space we call cyberspace. Kids are dying because of cyberbullying. How are they dying? Many are committing suicide. We need to intervene now, don’t you think?

Remember: Just because we don’t actually see each other face-to-face on Instagram doesn’t mean that people can just compose and share bullying messages aimed at others. Let’s not forget there is an actual person in front of that computer screen reading your message.

Truth: Technology is a tool that can be used for good or for bad. Much good is done online, but the amount of bullying I’ve seen on places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is borderline illegal.

Why aren’t we censoring bullying speeches on Facebook? I know, I know. Many people are claiming that they have the right to free speech, and therefore can say anything to other people.

Really? False!

The internet is still regulated by the laws of the United States, if you reside in the great U.S. of A. Hate speech is a crime that can send people to jail. Using bullying toward others will eventually backfire, just remember that.

Look, we live in 2018. Technology is available everywhere, which has transformed the way we live and communicate in this country. However, we see bullying everywhere on the internet.

It is time for some of us to make a statement about it and provide an alternative. A nation that is united cannot be divided. A united people cannot be defeated. We are all Americans, are we not? There is no room for bullying online, people.

Next time you see somebody belittling someone on a social media group, say something about it. Do something. Here is the good news. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist in order to treat others with respect, and that is cool. You just need to be reasonable. It isn’t that difficult.

In the end, we are all in this big boat together trying to make it. Life isn’t easy for anybody. Bullying only makes things more complicated for people.

Technology may have given us the tools to communicate across borders, but it also has given voice to a large number of people who should be speechless.

Say no to bullying online.

——— (Posted Previously on the Cleveland Daily Banner).

(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and a TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at  luiscalmeida.info.)

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16 thoughts

  1. Good article. Just one technicality that needs to be mentioned. Actually, hate speech is protected speech. Why? How do we define hate speech? What is hateful to one person is truth to another. If as a Christian I say Jesus is God, many with different religious beliefs will disagree. Some will even call it blasphemy. Others, because the Bible teaches homosexuality is wrong, will offended just because I said something that indicates I believe the Bible.

    So while I am against bullying, I don’t think we can ban it just because it is hate speech. If bullying online is criminal behavior, we will have to find a different basis for. It is illegal, for example, to threaten someone with physical harm. and that is bullying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tom, thank you for replying. I take the stance provided by the American Bar Association… “Words without social value should
      Not be used.” We need to be careful not to abuse the liberties that our great country has given us all as a society.. After all, we have liberties rather than freedoms in America, right? The pledge of allegiance teaches us that along with the fact that we live in a republic not necessarily a democracy. Common sense plays a big role here but I do understand where you are coming from. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t fault your intentions. I just think it is a problem we need to think more about. You have heard this phrase?

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

        What is hateful is also in the eye of the beholder.

        Consider. Are you certain American Bar Association would agree with you about which words have social value?

        As it is, I doubt the American Bar Association advocates banning “hate speech”. That is a Liberal Democrat bunch, but our laws only prohibit speech that incites violence.
        => https://www.americanbar.org/publications/insights_on_law_andsociety/13/winter_2013/who_decides_civilityvhatespeechontheinternet.html

        => https://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/initiatives_awards/students_in_action/debate_hate.html

        The idea of banning hate speech is really something the USSR pushed. => https://www.hoover.org/research/sordid-origin-hate-speech-laws

        Banning “hate speech” is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory, but when we start thinking about the problems we will experience in practice……. If we were good enough to make such a law work, we would not need it. We need such a law, but the harm we would do with it outweighs the benefits.

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      2. There is some truth to what you are claiming. In cultural studies we refer to this as an Emic distinction. I make the argument that some feelings are universal (Etic distinction) and we can identify them. Who can deny that Brooke Shield wasn’t beautiful in her youth? Or Brigitte Bardot? Not everything in in the eye of the holder… Some agreements are universal. In the pledge of allegiance, we say, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of American and to the republic for which it stands… One nation, under God, indivisible with liberties and justice for all.” Nowhere in this pledge we read the word freedom… Clearly, we should have some limitation in what we so that liberties can then be implemented by law. By no means, I am a proponent of pure political correctness (as you know) as much as I am for being sensitive to what others may feel with reason. Maybe I am bias for being an evangelical Christian buddy where to me at least… we should treat others as we treat ourselves. I come from the stance that we kind of know what is hurtful to others for the most part. But hey, who is perfect anyways, right? I am not.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. There are two issues.
        1. We should treat others as we treat ourselves. Practice the Golden Rule.
        2. Protect each others rights.

        You mention the Pledge of Allegiance. What about the words, republic, liberties, and justice? The point of a republic is to avoid majoritarian tyranny, to protect individual rights. We have a republic because we value justice above hurt feelings.

        Do I agree Brooke Shield and Brigitte Bardot were beautiful. Well, I think they were certainly pleasant to look upon. However, when drag someone into a courtroom and then punish them for a crime, we better have a concrete understanding of what they did wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Tom, we agree and disagree with what we believe. In this topic, we disagree and I ok with that. The literature on etic and emit distinction is beyond the reasonable doubt. Some things are universal, including beauty. Let’s also not forget that in a courtroom, wins the case the party who makes the best argument for their argument not always who is right. The OJ Simpson case is evidence of that. As for practicing the golden rule is also questionable… America practices the golden mean much more often… we value the golden rule but this is minutia. 🙂

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      5. Let’s also not forget that in a courtroom, wins the case the party who makes the best argument for their argument not always who is right.

        Justice is difficult concept. The best we can hope to do is strive for the rule of law. To a large extent that requires us to be fairly literal. When we put a law down on paper, judges and juries have to rule based upon what the law says on paper, at least based upon the original intent (since words change in meaning over time).

        What is the objective of a law? Any law is a compromise. To make a law workable — to avoid tyrannizing each other — we must honor the compromise, not what we might wish the law said.

        Ultimately, the only power to which man should aspire is that which he exercises over himself. ― Elie Wiesel

        Don’t we each have enough difficulty ruling ourselves?

        When we as a people are insufficiently honorable, tyrants will rule us because be have left ourselves no other alternative. Unless we are honorable enough to control ourselves, someone will do it.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. “Justice is difficult concept. The best we can hope to do is strive for the rule of law. To a large extent that requires us to be fairly literal.” Life is a difficult concept… Life is not as black and white as you claim to be. From a purely philosophical stance, one can justify a position with reasonable support. As am empiricist who makes life decisions based on data for the purposes of pragmatism… I am not impressed purely by arguments that may appear logical or illogical. External validity of findings and the process itself are variables that I personally respect. Sure they do but evidence (not just in the case of OJ) has shown that in life, things aren’t always black and white. There is room for error, like when we investigate different independent variables in a scientific endeavor. Even in positivistic studies, a margin of error is still expected. Claiming that we can bypass the former seem presumptions to me.

        “Any law is a compromise.” No really. I don’t think that a police officer would be okay with this position. Are you saying that if people violate speed limit, they can compromise their fines with the law?

        “We must honor the compromise, not what we might wish the law said.” I agree with you in the first part that we should compromise more (not be so extreme)…

        “Don’t we each have enough difficulty ruling ourselves?” Not really. It depends on the enterprise.

        “When we as a people are insufficiently honorable, tyrants will rule us because be have left ourselves no other alternative. Unless we are honorable enough to control ourselves, someone will do it.” Not sure about this either. Do we have hard data to support this or is this statement pure speculation? The construct of honor is a difficult one to operationalize and empirically investigate in social science research. We need to be careful not to make such strong statements without being open minded that an alternative hypothesis might exist. The production of well established treatments to investigate difficult variables like the ones we are discussing makes this blog thread an interesting one for scholars of political science to investigate. What I would like to see is instrumentation containing crombach alphas with enough strength to justify internal (and face) validity of measures so we can calculate results with the highest levels of measurement, of course controlling for variables that might have an effect on the overall result of the research endeavor.

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      7. Do we have hard data to support this or is this statement pure speculation? The construct of honor is a difficult one to operationalize and empirically investigate in social science research.

        Have you been watching the power struggles in Washington DC? I need hard data? Look at our discussion.
        😆

        Any law represents a compromise. The Constitution is full of compromises. However, to make the compromises in a law effective, public officials, policemen, judges, and juries have to respect the law as it is. That is, they must enforce it without compromising the law.

        When judges try to interpret the Constitution as a living document, for example, then the law becomes whatever the faction in power at the time wants it to be. That subverts the rule of law.

        What the founders of the United States aimed for was a limited government. They wrote a Constitution that gave the Federal Government just enough power to keep a federation together and working in unity to protect the States and the People living in those states. Unfortunately, that Constitution no longer works as they wrote it because too many people refuse to honor the Constitution as the law of the land. Instead, too many just see it as an obstacle to getting what they want. If we cannot restore respect for the Constitution and the rule of law, our republic will eventually collapse. The signs of that are in plain sight in Washington DC.

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  2. One – no two people, especially if they’re of opposing loyalties, e.g., American vs. Liberal / Progressive, can agree on what bullying is except in the most old school, classical cases. Hence, this idea of yours is moot.

    Two – No, thankfully there are no laws prohibiting “hate speech,” only laws applying harsher sentencing to “hate crimes.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately in our great American country, people are so stuck in this liberal or not liberal agenda that when a person with good intentions like me write something that appears “liberal” anybody who isn’t one starts attacking them as if he was one. I am not a liberal, in fact. Instead, I am an independent who is de facto a patriot. To me at least, bullying isn’t acceptable. It seems that our great culture is producing extremists like you way too much. I do see your point to a degree though.

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      1. Your “independent fragility” is showing. 😉

        If you reread my comment you should be able to see that I attacked the unspoken postulates your position and desires were based upon and your understanding of current law, not any form of political position or persuasion.

        And, there we have it – a perfect example of two people not agreeing to what constitutes “attacking” and/or political bias / loyalties.

        And yes, I think that this is one of the toxic roots of the current division of America. We do not share a consensus lexicon when it comes to terms of sociopolitical import.

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      2. My “independent authenticity” is stronger than my fragilities… I understand what you’ve attacked. As a pragmatist (maybe an idealist) who investigates this topic from the lenses of empiricism testing hypotheses at the .05 level of significance measuring accuracy with post-hoc statistical measures (scheffe method), I can’t intellectually ignore extraneous variables. I do agree that my patriot independent views (quite conservative for the most part), are unorthodox in today’s American political landscape. I am pro USA, though. Maybe this division is occurring more often due to our inabilities to compromise once is a while. 🙂

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      3. Certainly the proximate cause of much of the division is the inability or unwillingness to compromise. But, in my opinion, that itself is predicated upon our not agreeing upon what terms mean, much less what examples of those terms are.

        Much like your use and my understanding of the term, “extremist.” I’m guessing you think I’m one because I differentiate between Americans and liberals, whereas I can’t consider a person to be American in any way except for the necessities of legalism when they hate the foundations of American culture and just about everything else about the country they live within. I see it as a simple acceptance of fact, not as extremism.

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      4. Operational definitions of variables is paramount to the understanding of pure empirical research. The question of definition is central to the argument of validity at multiple levels which in itself has been central to discussions on the subject. I prefer to question pure operationalization of measure (which is quite subjective) with quantifiable measures of face validity. We tend to define variables so loosely within the social sciences, which in itself can cause reliability problems later on, along with triangulation challenges. In our culture, we are moving away from solid foundations of research and deep inquiry and replacing the important conversations of our times with opinionated commentary. From this standpoint, I would argue, questions relating to external validity then become more challenging which makes me personally uncomfortable with. I would rather see statistical evidence of measured treatments along with solid verified data tested over time at the p=001 level but hey, as I said previously… I tend to be an idealist.

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      5. Operational definitions of variables is paramount to the understanding of pure empirical research. The question of definition is central to the argument of validity at multiple levels which in itself has been central to discussions on the subject. I prefer to question pure operationalization of measure (which is quite subjective) with quantifiable measures of face validity. We tend to define variables so loosely within the social sciences, which in itself can cause reliability problems later on, along with triangulation challenges.

        Like

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