There is an epidemic in our culture and it is disheartening. Most of it is unwarranted and unprovoked. It hides behind a cloak of anonymity in the social networking universe that has engulfed our generation.
Cyber bullying is a relatively new yet potentially harmful phenomenon in which people use technology such as computers or mobile phones to harass, threaten, humiliate or otherwise hassle their peers and today, it is spinning out of control.
Moreover, in this unbridled territory of social media there have been few consequences for cyber bullies’ actions and little punishment for their crimes whereas the dangers posed by cyber bullying are not in the breadth of its perpetrators and victims, but rather in the depth of damage that online aggression causes or can possibly cause. According to a recent report, Kenyans mostly those who are active on social media are witnessing a growing number of tragedies from cyber bullying, mostly addressed to women.
In a world of catastrophic headlines and sensational sound bites, the startling exposure reveals that nearly 57 per cent or three people out of five use social media to get help, emotional support or practical advice for their real life problems thus exposing themselves to cyber bullying. Shockingly, most cyber bullying incidents in the country go on unabated.
Cyber bullying is a real problem that we are facing and it is about time the government enacts policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users our institutions and societies.
Tragic accounts of youth and even adults in places of influence in government who have been tormented through social media, emails, texts or instant messages are only a click away and have the capability of producing pages of results.
It is about time the government enacted policies and laws that will provide adequate interventions geared towards the protection of not only women but all cyber space users. There is a great deal of power in the internet but its use calls for wisdom, which most cyber bullies lack.
It is the government’s job to start bridging that gap. Times are also changing, requiring government to be above the tech-savvy lot that can easily over turn things through cyber space, by educating us, encouraging vigilance as good citizens, and creating a system of accountability and consequences.
We also have to begin giving young people, especially teens, the tools that will help empower them and not let bullies take away their self-esteem.
Cyber bullying is serious and we need to treat it as such. The fact is, this sort of social behaviour by others is unconscionable.
There are cyber-mobs with gang-like mentalities that need to be clamped down. Now, more than ever, we are living in a culture of digital cruelty and it is not only with our youth it trickles down from the top, from reckless adults that should know better.
However, I believe that as much as we are the problem, we can also be the solution. Instead of using the Internet to hurt someone, use it to empower people and make others feel good about themselves. And if you don’t have anything nice to say, just keep scrolling.
Life is short. Spend your time here wisely and be kind to people.
This article was published on People Weekend on 24-25, October 2015