It’s not often that I’ll be tempted to eat my words but after watching Cyberbully on Channel 4 this evening I’ve come fairly close.
About two years ago I wrote a blog post about bullies, not websites or apps or gadgets, being the root of the problem. I think it’s fair to say that’s still true: Bullies ARE bullies, no matter what medium they use to attack their ‘prey’, but their reach has indeed been extended by modern technology.
10 years ago Bebo was the big concern. I remember a furore in school because a few first years had been sharing their home addresses along with the ‘luvs’. Telephone numbers, email addresses and all kinds of personal details were being pumped online by trigger happy teens.
It was frowned upon to share such personal details about your daily life on the internet, but now agreeing to do just that is essentially a prerequisite to web browsing for an entire generation.
Do we not flock in our millions to YouTube to watch vloggers share segments of their daily lives? And document every single minute of our day on Snapchat, Vine and Instagram to name but a few?
From our Facebook breakups to our face to face breakdowns, we (myself included) have become so accustomed to pouring our hearts and souls on to electronic pages that we’ve forgotten just how vulnerable it makes us. There’s no point scaremongering but we do need to stop and think.
Talking to someone face to face isn’t as easy as typing things out on a keyboard or smartphone.
Some of us are able to be the people we purport ourselves to be from behind the screen. Others aren’t quite so brave and, on some occasions, innocent or honourable.
That’s why it’s so important to think before we type and tweet, to take a second to ponder the possible outcomes of our posts. Ok so no rational person is going to judge you based on that bowl of carefully photographed porridge (well…) but when it comes to snapping selfies you’ve no idea where they could end up.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet.
I’ve made my living through it for years and I happily share many aspects of my life online. I blog, I vlog, I tweet incessantly about everything and anything and sometimes, yes, I vent about personal issues that may affect young people or my peers.
That doesn’t mean I amn’t aware that we need to be careful though, no matter what age we are. I was 23 when I shared that post about websites and bullies and I wasn’t even partially prepared for the one negative reaction I had on Twitter. Nor the torrent of tears that unexpectedly followed.
Sharing isn’t always caring so just remember to make sure you’re looking after number one. Chances are nobody else online will.