I've noticed lately the increased amount of online bullying. And it isn't who you think.
Whether it is merely disagreeing or blatantly refusing to acknowledge a differing opinion, I think adults are some of the worst to blame.
We look to our children and teenagers to display behaviour that we ourselves hold on to like a pedestal and yet some of the most common examples of online bullying behaviour come from people over the age of 20.
We should know better. We do know better. And yet some adults are still to blame for making another human being feel like rubbish.
Whether it is on Facebook (comments and articles) or different social media platforms such as Twitter or Instagram everyone seems to have their two cents to say. And sometimes it isn't nice. And sometimes it doesn't make sense. And sometimes it would be better left unsaid. Racial slur, ageist, sexuality and sexist comments are all easy to pass judgement on when you are hiding behind a keyboard.
Reality TV stars, social media influencers, politicians, sports and media stars are just some of the people in the firing range from online bullying. It's almost as though New Zealand's culture of tall poppy syndrome has just moved with the times and crossed the invisible online border inside the worldwide web.
We are quick to celebrate our diverse celebrities but appear to be just as quick to tear them down. No one online is safe. By voicing an opinion you put yourself out there for ridicule from others. And so it snowballs. Attacks become personal focusing more on the individual making the original comments than based on the actual opinion or behaviour alone. Online bullying builds in momentum with many others quick to join the party to defend or deflect further comments. Retaliation often happens, with further bullying from both sides. Is it best to ignore the hate? Or acknowledge it and move on?
It doesn't matter whether you agree or disagree sometimes. How hurtful will your words be if you type them out as a comment? Does your input help someone? Will it make them feel good about themselves, or add extra stress from reading your opinion?
So many of us are able to refrain from being cruel for the sake of it, and yet there are many who can't. While topics and opinions spark anger, debate and critical opinion it is often more about the way comments are delivered to avoid individuals feeling attacked or belittled.
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Some adults think nothing of adding a negative comment to a comment thread and moving on with their day unaware of the impact their words may have on the recipient.
The age old saying if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all rings true. It costs nothing to be kind. It costs nothing to build people up instead of tearing them down. We can help educate and have different opinions without attacking people or simply being cruel.
What are we teaching our teenagers and children? How are we helping them to learn how to react and respond? Are we unaware of the behaviour that we are modelling that reflects back to our children?
Do we have the right to comment on everything we come across online? Should we be as concerned and worried about other people's opinions and lives or instead try to focus on enriching our own?
So next time you come across something online that makes you upset or angry, before you react and begin to type a response, think, is this actually going to help someone?
If in doubt, just scroll on by.