Last night, as with all nights, I was tuned to BBC radio. There was a feature on Cyberbullying spurred by the suicide of a 15-year old girl from Canada. It was a tragic story given that only five weeks ago, the girl had “uploaded a video to YouTube describing years of bullying that she said drove her to drugs and alcohol.” Her cry for help was misjudged as a pathetic search for attention. Clearly, no one bothered: The bullying continued and she eventually took her own life.
I pondered on the story while listening to various experts views on why cyberbullying occurs and what can be done to prevent it. While their views were insightful, I found it disconcerting that they seemed to focus on Cyberbullying among children.
Those who have been using social media for quite a while know very well that Cyberbullying is a reality among adults. As the number of social media users in Kenya increases, certain issues arise regarding the use of various sites. Concerns have been raised over Hate Speech, Incitement as well as Ethnic and Religious Targeting. But few of us are talking about Cyberbullying.
Experts say anytime you are harassed, humiliated or threatened online it’s cyberbullying.
As the country’s SM user crowd grows there are those who seek to stand out and make a name for themselves whichever way they can. Some, more so the tech savvy, will result to Cyberbullying.
This was my experience in the last 24hrs:-
It all began with a tweet posted by @TheKimutai
I found it hilarious and took the liberty to retweet it.
Little did I know my actions would give one @IddSalim reason to make false accusations against me and finally insult me.
To Idd, by retweeting that tweet, I was in agreement with something – I do not know what
Translation: Why is @Nittzsah in agreement with Kimutai’s tweet?
To which I responded:-
Translation: Was I to seek your permission before retweeting that tweet?
To which he inisted
To which I responded:-
Translation: What would I be in agreement with? Was the tweet an opinion poll question?
Then came the insult. A demeaning, chauvinistic, sexist reference to menstruation meant to shame me to shut up.
To which, I walked away.
Perhaps my silence gave Idd some sense of satisfaction or.., victory. For what? I cannot tell. Why he felt compelled to bully me, I do not know. Perhaps, someone will offer some insight at the tail end of this post.
Someone once told me, the Internet can be vicious, especially when you make the wrong people mad.
I refuse to differentiate tweeps as “wrong people” and “right people.” I consider all of us as equals. Whatever your career, your paycheck, your level of education, your political ambitions and corporate affiliations, – we are all the same. No one is boss of the other.
By viewing tweeps as “wrong people” that only means that there are those among us who consider themselves as superior to the rest. When did we get to this point? And for the “right people” who revere the “wrong people” when did you start kissing ass? You never knew many of the people on Twitter before Twitter, why should some have the right to humiliate the rest? Is walking away the solution when all it seems to do is give Cyberbullies the confidence to keep harassing others while entertaining the disengaged onlooker.
Is there any justification for Cyberbullying among social media users in Kenya?
More importantly how can we put an end to this fast spreading menace?
PS: Should you wish to comment on this post, don’t waste your time insulting Idd. Your comment will NOT be moderated. Only offer solutions to the problem of Cyberbullying in this country.