In this weeks reading we examined some unfortunate stories that took place-involving cyberbullying. Unfortunately, many of these cases take place with kids in their tweens who have not developed the self-esteem to handle ridicule broadcasted on social networks. Danah Boyd’s research claims that it is difficult for teenagers, “To recognize oneself as a victim — or perpetrator — requires serious emotional, psychological and social support.” However, while this research may work well in the ages of middle and high school, how does it translate into an adult world? Cyberbullying can evolve from teenage “drama” and at a later age become an invasion of private life and lead to discrimination.
The tragic story of Tyler Clementi shows the worst that cyberbullying has to offer. Instead of being some meaningless teenage “drama” Clementi’s privacy and freedom were stolen from him, when his roommate streamed online a sexual encounter of Clementi and another male student. Because the Internet connects information to so many people the stream would have been able to be seen by multiple people. This may have played into Clementi’s decision to jump to his death. If Clementi had chosen to be labeled as a victim in the situation it varies greatly in a college situation as compared to high school. Instead of just being harassed and called names Clementi’s personal life was brought to the forefront on the digital realm. Had he sought help Clementi may have had a hard time to admit that he was being bullied as an adult, it would have required support that few universities in the nation are well equipped to provide.
Much like Clementi, Chris Armstrong, president of Michigan Student Assembly, was being harassed online due to his sexual orientation, however the bully wasn’t another student, but an adult. That adult was assistant Michigan Attorney General Andrew Shrivell who had been releasing blog posts claiming that Armstrong was a gay Nazi and was participating in gay orgy parties in his dorm room. Armstrong was fortunate and never had to seek support to getting the bullying to stop, had he have had to search for support it may have lead to a mental toll on the student. Armstrong had many defendants without even asking for it as angry citizens posted frustrated messages about the discrimination of the student on Shirvell’s blog. Shirvell partakes in an interview shown on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, to make claims that he is the one that is being cyberbullied due to the harassment from the public, and that he is in the clear to say what he wants about Armstrong. What ensues is a classic scene of someone in over their heads. While this story may be ridiculous it does bring to attention the issues with cyberbullying, and how acceptance of being a bully, is as difficult for a 30-year-old man as it is for a teenager. If he were able to accept how he is acting as being discriminatory to another individual perhaps he would be able to change his actions and possibly develop respect toward another human being.