Friday, March 30, 2007

Stop cyberbullying

Today is the day that has been identified for those who wish to speak out against the campaign of cyberbullying that has been levelled against Kathy Sierra. This is my small contribution. My small voice joining what I hope will prove to be many. In my view, what Kathy has endured has gone beyond cyberbullying - much of it would warrant the term cyber-rape.

I happen to like Kathy Sierra's blog very much. I discovered it before I knew what blogs were, and have been reading it ever since. I feel as if I come to know her well enough through her posts to say I like her. In the final analysis, that is not what this post is about. It doesn't matter whether you like Kathy Sierra or loathe her. It doesn't matter if you think she reveals deep and profound wisdom or complete drivel. In fact, this isn't really about Kathy at all. It's about you. It's about me. It's about US. Kathy's right to occupy space online should be inviolate. As should yours. No-one is justified in hiding behind the anonymity of the online environment to objectify, humiliate, belittle, frighten, threaten, victimise, harass another person on line. The rules of decency around our online presence should mirror those of our physical world.

People who resort to such behaviour are obviously riven with baggage, insecurities and issues.

I know that there are those who think that it's more frightening to know the name of your bully than not, but I would dispute that. It's bad enough to be harassed someone when you know who they are, but at least you have the chance of taking action if you can work up the courage. How do you defend against an identifiable bully? How can you be sure it isn't someone you know and like - someone you think likes you? How do you ever feel safe again?

Victimising someone anonymously is sheer cowardice. It shows a lack of courage of convictions. The knowledge that your view will not stand up to scrutiny and is indefensible, otherwise surely you would be proud to claim it as your own.

I have joined the Stop Cyberbullying network on Ning. Perhaps you might consider doing the same. Not just for Kathy, but for yourself, for your friends, for your children, for their friends.

It might be a while before Kathy recovers her effervescence! Let's hope she soon feels brave enough to start posting again.

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