Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stop Cyberbullying?

How odd! I had never personally experienced cyberbullying before. I joined the Ning Stop Cyberbullying community largely because of what happened to Kathy Sierra.

I accepted friendship requests from anyone who made them, thinking - probably naievely - that they had read something I had written somewhere and felt some kind of synergy with me. Some of the requests came from people who write like my teenagers do - all IM-and text-speak and scrambled grammar. I was fairly sure they were teenagers themselves, and wondered why they should want to befriend me, but shrugged and hit accept.

Next thing I knew, I was being bombarded with demands as to why I wasn't chattering them, and didn't I know that ignoring a person online was a kind of bullying, too? When one of them asked me if Karyn Romeis was my real name (which it is, although I only came by the second bit by marriage), because it was a really stupid one, I decided that enough was enough.

Looking through the pages of all the people who have signed up as my friends I find screeds of messages of accusation from one member to another. It seems some people seem to have signed up to the forum for the express purpose of mutual accusations of cyberbullying. Alternatively, there seems to be an equal market for mea culpa: I've been a terrible cyberbully to you all, can you ever forgive me? Puh-lease!

I know a lot of really wonderful people belong to the community, and I have enormous respect for them. However, I don't know how much of an impact a network like this can really have on what is a very serious problem. Especially when there is this kind of petty in-fighting and attention-seeking going on. So I'm giving serious consideration to opting out of it.

If you have seen evidence of the community making a difference in your sphere, or if you're seeing a different picture from the one I've described above, please let me know!


Anonymous said...

If that isn't the kettle calling the pot silver. I guess bullying is hitting a new high or low depending on how you look at it. I've found that some of the people who sign up for the networks really have no clue how to act or what to do. I'm in a few myself on Ning and there's all kinds. Some really have no idea what to do. I'm not sure about the cyberbullying but, if what you are experiencing is happening, I'd tell the person who manages the group and, if it doesn't stop, cut them lose. btw, sent you a friendship at classroom2.0 or maybe it was school2.0? See you somewhere:)

Anonymous said...

Sure will, Kelly - our paths seems to cross quite often!