Del Williams


Online Shaming, The New Bullying

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Social Media has always been a haven for bullies and trolls, particularly when tech giants like Twitter consider it free speech. The result has been the constant online shaming of people, particularly women, on everything from what they post on social media to how they look.

Shaming has become the new way to bully. They are not going to beat you up for your lunch money, but instead get hundreds of people to call you names, send you pictures of dead animals, dox you, and/or threaten to rape and murder you and your family.
All the behaviors being exhibited online would be criminal in any other context, so people feel comfortable bullying and shaming strangers. To add to the problem is that social media platforms tend to protect the harassers over their victims by hiding behind free speech.

What got me thinking on this was a report on The Guadian and looking at some responses to high profile people like Presidential Candidates, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. The thing which was most interesting was that Donald Trump received the least shaming and bullying, while Ms. Clinton received the most, even for things she had no part in.

Azaelia Banks Twitter account was suspended when she made racist and homophobic remarks to Zayn Malik, but ignored it where she called for the kidnapping and gang rape of Sandra Palin. It was also ignored when she was constantly referred to as the N word. President Obama, after sending his first tweet was met with over 4000 tweets calling him the N word. There's something seriously wrong with that.

I am all for free speech, but what I am more for is free speech with accountability. We should be able to have different points of view without having to get our mail inspected or move into hotels, because someone else thinks only their opinion matters. Last year Ashley Judd tweeted about a sports game, and received all kinds of threats. When she fought back, people got mad, even people who had been victims of online bullying.

Shaming women has become a hobby for some. It's all they do on social media. They have zero interest in just playing around with hashtag games or the like, but just in harassing people they don't know. Perhaps it's time for some people to go to jail. Women should not have to leave or be silent on social media, because tech giants allow their harassers to post freely.
Making it worse is that many of the shamers and bullies of women are other women. Is this a case where the men are learning, and the women are jumping in thinking they now have a right to do damage to others?

We don't know the real human toll from constant shaming, bullying, and harassing, because real studies have not really been commissioned. There are plenty of studies on selfies and about feelings on what you post, but the damage done via social media gets the sound of crickets. Here's what we do know though, people should not have to avoid being online, because someone decides to make them a target. It's time to make the bullies leave instead of running others away.

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