Friday Fun with Fonetics

Colorado Springs – In the past couple of weeks, this blog has focused increasingly on freedom of speech, groupthink and cyberbullying. In fact, a few weeks ago, I was subjected to many forms of cyberbullying by a few Deaf people who sought to discredit me for having an opinion.

Earlier this week, news of a MySpace Missouri teenage girl killing herself over a relationship, and her town’s subsequent reaction – in which harassment of all types, from death threats to publishing personal information on the Internet of the woman accused of causing the teenager to kill herself – dominated Thanksgiving headlines on the Internet. The town of Dardenne Prairie in Missouri became the first in the United States to make it a crime to harass people over the Internet.

A definition of cyberbullying:

This may include projection, false criticism and patronising sarcasm whilst contributing nothing of any value. It may also include a common tactic of “a number of people have emailed me backchannel to agree with me”. This is standard bully-speak which I’ve experienced on several forums. In every case it’s a fabrication or a distortion – usually the former. It’s also a variant of the serial bully head teacher who says “a number of parents have complained to me about you…”. When challenged, the identity of the alleged complainants can’t be disclosed because it’s “confidential”. The purpose of this tactic is to wind people up. Don’t be fooled into believing it has any validity – it doesn’t.

So, I leave you with a few quotes to ruminate in your brain as you wind down this Thanksgiving weekend. And please remember, if you don’t agree with someone, it doesn’t mean you have to find their credit card number, or their place of employment, and publish it on the Internet to get even. Be an adult and act like one, okay? Bullies used to be a school-yard issue, but in modern society, bullying seems to become an acceptable form of anarchy by many people – damning all democratic processes in the name of democratic ideals.

  • Bullies are always cowards at heart and may be credited with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their prey. – Anna Julia Cooper
  • I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: ‘The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair.’ In these words he epitomized the history of the human race. – Bertrand Russell
  • If you bully someone face to face, and they get upset, you see them cry and be hurt. When it’s over the Internet, you can’t see the emotional reaction and go along thinking it’s no big deal. – Robin Kowalski
  • They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security. – Benjamin Franklin
  • If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse gift will find a fitting place. – Margaret Mead

Let’s stop this cyberbullying. It’s unnecessary and only serves to promote anarchy, in which anything goes for anyone at any time. If you want to live in the Wild West and tote a gun around, ready to kill people at a moment’s notice for disagreeing with you, then move to Somalia. Otherwise, let’s be adults and agree to disagree and stop cyberbulling.

Be good .. or be good at it.



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Posted at 11:15 PM under Crumblings of Stuffs. Follow responses through the comments feed, Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your site.


I tend to fall into the category of “if you can’t stand the heat than get out of the kitchen”. We all risk confrontation when place our words into cyberspace. Being challenged on them is a part of it. Revealing personal information about someone for retribution is the pinnacle of hateful stupidity. But who monitors that? Who is responsible for ensuring that that doesn’t happen and punish those guilty of it? No one. It is, unfortunately, part of our daily lives.

Well-written blog about adults cyberbullying. However, ’tis human nature to want to dominate anyone whose opinions differ…dominating comes from feeling threatened, out of not understanding.


Karen Mayes

I was shocked by the woman who did this to get back at a young teen. I googled cyberbullying myself and most of it is in references to kids online, but we all know adults do it to each other. Mostly I think it’s because we can’t see each other’s faces.

I don’t know who Robin Kowalski is, but I agree with her about the internet. So much misunderstanding can be avoided when you can see someone else’s face. We know when not to tease because we can tell if someone’s having a bad day and what not. We can see immediately if someone has taken a comment personally, and we can tell them that wasn’t how we meant it, or we were just joking. We can touch them and say– “Hey, I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry.” Also we’re less likely to misinterpret someone’s intent in real life. The facial expression and tone of voice is so important. Emails are tricky. It’s difficult to convey your exact tone. Anyone who has ever participated in a book club knows that no matter how well something was written 12 different people can read 12 different meanings into a passage, because it all depends on the experiences and perspectives of the individuals reading it!!! A good share of cyberbullying by adults is simple miscommunication.

I have met many of the people I’ve had horribly ugly on-line fights with, and I’ve found them to be genuinely nice in person. This used to surprise me, but not anymore. Often our backgrounds are quite different and I’ve realized this was the reason we had difficulties understanding each other in emails.

I am big on forgiveness and do not hold a grudge for I do not always behave perfectly myself.

The way to avoid misunderstanding is to clarify when someone seems like they’ve sent a rude response. I forget to do this myself. Other times it’s best just to ignore. Again, I’m not always good at taking my own advice.