Cyberbullying: A Coward’s Recourse

0

 

AmandaTodd

Image Source: wn.com

 

Last week, while researching the Friday News Links post, I came across a disturbing find:

Don’t worry, you needn’t read the entire article, here’s an excerpt:

“An arrest has been made in the Netherlands in the case of the Canadian teenager Amanda Todd who was blackmailed to expose herself in front of a webcam, Canadian police confirmed on Thursday. The 15-year-old later committed suicide after detailing her harassment on a YouTube video watched by millions around the world.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Paulette Freill said a suspect had been arrested in the Netherlands and charged with extortion, luring and criminal harassment and possession of child pornography for the purpose of distribution. Police did not release the name of the 35-year-old man and declined to release specifics of the case.

Dutch prosecutors said the man was suspected of blackmailing girls in the US, Britain and the Netherlands.”

****

In researching current events for the daily posts, I read a fair amount of news. There’s always something shocking going on, somewhere in the world, but this story provoked more than a mere jolt of reality. It produced repugnance.

Most of you are likely already familiar with Amanda’s story. For those of you that aren’t, let me introduce Amanda Todd:

Not long after posting this video to Youtube, Amanda committed suicide. She’d been bullied into a deep depression and subsequently took her own life to escape her digital torture. I’ll give you a moment to let that reality sink in.

What happened to Amanda is despicable and I Lady-Gaga-Art-Vomit all over her pathetic bullies. To be clear: it takes far more from a human being to stand up for someone, than to tear them down. Wrecking someone’s self-esteem doesn’t make anyone stronger; it simply exposes a foul weakness in the aggressor.

Also, I find it utterly repulsive that community after community, student after student, and friend after friend, abandoned Amanda, in order to side with a goddamn child pornographer. Some asshole that eye-balled naked children, extorted and harassed them, won, by enabling the destruction of a life.

She was someone’s kid, someone’s friend, someone’s family and she’s gone. She’s been erased because somebody, somewhere gets off on ogling underage tits. If this is indeed the guy that perpetuated the whole thing, he disgusts me, as do the people that subsequently tormented Amanda.

I hope you can help me out because I’m having a hard time understanding what is wrong with us, as human beings, that we allow things like this go on. Is it that we are so detached from reality (and one another) that we can no longer fathom the effect our words have on other people? Have we become so desensitized that we’re nearly incapable of empathy? Are we, as people, evolving to be decidedly cruel? What the fuck is going on?

As I’m sure you can imagine, Amanda Todd isn’t alone. I suppose that is the most tragic aspect of her story. She isn’t alone now and she wasn’t alone then.

Meet Kristina Arielle Calco

 

and Jamey Rodemeyer:

 

This is Mitchell Wilson:

 

…And this is Rebecca Sedwick

What I want to know is, why don’t we stand up for one another (and what’s right) anymore? Is it just that there are too many miles of fiber optic cable separating us–even when we’re sitting next to one another on the couch? Why are our real life connections so unstable?

Simply put, I can’t make sense of this. The bullies are the assholes and yet the victims pay with their lives. That’s not right and neither is harassing someone into an insurmountable depression. It’s not funny and it’s not cute. There’s no meme to make that O.K.

Sticks and stones don’t only break bones, they ruin lives. Words can destroy a person’s self esteem and stalking can crush anyone’s freedom. Aggressors that choose to bully others into submission need to be held accountable for the damage they’re doing.

What’s more, we all need to look up from our phones and recognize that, what we say and do online, has a far-reaching effect. We need to own our words again and redefine what it means to be human.

 

Share.