The future of the internet is up to us
Don't be a bystander to bullying behaviour online.
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Sure, we can get government to ban or restrict certain things. But why bother when we can fix it for ourselves?"
When we hear about the internet and young people lately, it's all about cyberbullying. Lots of people think the government or the social networks should come forward and introduce 'legislation' which will stop cyberbullying. But In my opinion we must first look at WHO is causing it.
Is it Facebook sending these cruel, unnecessary messages? Or is it Siri controlling your phone sending hurtful and abusive texts? Obviously it is neither, but that makes it a whole lot harder. Cyber bullying isn't fixed by waving a wand, releasing a patch or even a system update.
What we fail to realise is that it's us. We are sending this abuse. Every comment, message, tweet or photo. It's sent by us, but it's also received by us. We are the cause, and we create the consequences for ourselves. But now it's time we take charge of the solution.
Our attitude to others is a big problem. Many of us send hurtful messages as 'banter', without realising that not everyone has the same sense of humour. There is no sarcastic font which indicates that it's just a 'slag'. Equally, people who see these hurtful posts don't take a second glance. And then some people hide behind anonymous accounts to ruthlessly attack people with words. We must learn to think twice before we post something about someone, and ask if it's needed.
"If you experience Cyber bullying, tell someone" - the message we are given by teachers and adults. But It's not a simple as that. If you are afraid to tell your teacher in case it gets worse, turn to a close friend. Or your brother or sister. But DO tell someone instead of suffering in silence.
If you are a close friend, keep an eye out for change in your friends - it could be an increase in sick days or just not wanting to go out at the weekend. Look after your friends if they do tell you that they are being cyber bullied, and don't write it off as being over dramatic.
If you think you are weak for reporting bullying, you are mistaken. You are in fact stronger than the majority of people.
It seems we are taking the internet for granted. It's up to us to create a safe environment for expression in the future. Sure, we can get government to ban or restrict certain things. But why bother when we can fix it for ourselves?
It's time to take responsibility now, and allow the next generation to use the internet the way they should: for fun. It's up to us. #Up2Us