The arrival of the Internet and the social-networking pages has made bullying into a widespread epidemic. When people are online, they can take on personas that are completely different from their real identities. This means if they were already acting mean in person, the comments will get more vicious, the jokes will get more cruel and the victims will get more hurt. A computer screen is like a shield for bullies; it makes them feel invincible. Suddenly, instead of having the burden of saying their abhorrent comments out loud, all they have to do is furiously type these verbal atrocities on a keyboard without facing any person or any consequences. As soon as people recognized the power that the Internet had given them, it became evident that bullying in person and over the phone was merely the calm before the storm. Hurtful instant messages and emails only take a few minutes to send, but people who receive them keep them forever. The publicness of the Internet allows bullies to broadcast their tormenting to further humiliate their victims. Not only have these victims suffered severe damage to the ego, but everybody knows about it.
The technological advances in bullying caused people to fear showing their faces at school. It’s enough that they already have been called a loser, or whatever creative insult some bully managed to come up with, online. Having to see the people who have been tormenting you when you have been disarmed of your confidence can be traumatizing. The severity of this emotional damage goes unnoticed by most; most people can be found hysterically laughing through the genocide of their peers’ self esteem.
Most of the bullies barely even know their victims. They have no idea if they are torturing someone who already suffers from depression. The worse kinds of bullies know that they are dealing with someone who has depression and use the depression as a weapon. It reaches the dangerous point of bullies knowingly or unknowingly taunting people who are suicidal, causing them to have even less of a desire to live.
This became more disastrous with the advent of Facebook, a page that may have been paved with good intentions, but created a whole new world for bullying. Facebook profiles contained a wall where friends could publicly communicate with each other. Unfortunately, bullies had a different use for this wall than friendly conversation. The wall welcomed bullies to taint their victims profiles with public, painful insults. People have the opportunity to comment and contribute to these epithets. More recently, Facebook users were given the opportunity to click “like” on Facebook postings. This means that even if one mean person has the idea to post “you have no friends in real life, so it’s funny that you have so many Facebook friends,” on somebody’s page, 50 other people can click “like,” indicating that they agree. The comment and “like” features also are available for people’s pictures that they have posted on their profiles. A person can log onto Facebook in a perfectly good mood and log off feeling ugly, friendless and worthless. It’s a wonder many people have difficulty succeeding in English classes, but can come up with such creative adjectives to use when publicly abusing someone. As if the verbal abuse is not enough, bullies have also discovered the art of exploiting their victims’ pictures to deepen the wounds that they have already inflicted.
Facebook is not the only place on the Internet where behavior like this occurs. The bullying epidemic became more contagious when people started to use pages such as formspring.me. Those pages allowed users to either make comments or ask questions anonymously. Although this may seem like it has potential to bring people closer together, it got ugly very quickly. People asked invasive, personal questions and posted heinous lies on these pages. This may seem harmless or juvenile, but it really is a war with words. People have resorted to suicide due to unnecessary bullying, and bullying remains an ongoing battle. People have started to take legal action as a result of irreparable damage caused by bullying. It may sound like the days of kindergarden tattletales, but it’s a serious matter. Without increased legal involvement, bullying will continue to damage and destroy innocent lives.