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article imageOp-Ed: Plight of the Internet bully and its struggle to be liked

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By Lynn Herrmann     Nov 3, 2010 in Internet
First cousin to the Internet troll, the internet bully thrives by creating an arena of intimidation, all while overdosed in insecurity and emitting squeals like a little pig.
Science Daily reports around 10 percent of all adolescents in the 7-9 grades are victims of the internet bully. Ann Frisén, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Gothenburg, states: “This type of bullying can be more serious than conventional bullying. At least with conventional bullying the victim is left alone on evenings and weekends.”
Seeking a twisted form of approval and gratification, cyberbullies have been allowed free-range on the internet as they continue taking their distress-causing agenda to new levels.
Fabrications, distortions and conflict are all the end result of the internet bully, who is usually in possession of a healthy dose of internal aggression.
Today’s discussion, much like the How to Make Hamburger of an Internet Troll, deals with another of the many unexpected features freely produced within the realm of the internet(s), the plight of the internet bully. A certified annoyance, to be sure, the internet bully brings with it all of the troubling characteristics currently under serious discussion and intense analyzing within public school systems regarding classroom and instant messaging bullying.
Long gone is the schoolyard bully, for that is so yesterday. Now, thanks to the internet, cell phones, and SMS’, the bully takes its action onto the world stage. There its antics are bound to find a cart full of cohorts readily agreeing with its look-at-me agenda, all while it continues squawking like a drunk duck.
The Internet bully does not limit its antics just to social sites, blogs or international news reporting sites; it stays busy in the 24/7 world of the Web, creating a growing worldwide problem.
Cyberbullying has now become a major concern for parents of school children in the 12-17 age group. A study conducted by Care.com found that one in three adults are more worried about cyberbullying than they are over such issues as kidnapping, car accidents, terrorism and suicide.
For parents of the under-12 age group, cyberbullying is their biggest fear, second only to kidnapping. The internet bully’s fast-growing disease now reigns as king, or queen. As in drama.
To be sure, the internet bully’s age group is not limited to teens or adult drama queens on international news reporting sites, nor is it simply limited to the classroom. Left unchecked, online harassment is proving to have serious repercussions. Adults, no longer content with forcing their insecurities on fellow adults, continue searching, taking their arrogance and audacity to new arenas. They prey on schoolchildren. The 2007 case of Meghan Meier bears this out.
Meghan was a 13-year-old student who committed suicide after her unfortunate encounter with an internet bully. The bully was the 46-year-old mother of one of Meghan’s fellow students. The mother - and by the age of 46 one would imagine a mature adult - passed herself off as a teen-age boy on MySpace, pretending for several weeks to have a teen-age relationship with Meghan.
Tina Meier, Meghan’s mother, said: “Meghan was cyberbullied for two hours, that is it, a two hour period. Many children endure this for weeks and months and years on end.”
Then there is the case of 7-year-old Kathleen Edwards, whose mother died last year of Huntington’s disease, a disease she suffers from herself. Clearly, for the internet bully, Kathleen is the perfect target for its cowardice. Enter Kathleen’s neighbor, 33-year-old Jennifer Petkov.
Kathleen and her family have been bullied by Petkov for more than a year. Petkov posted troubling artwork of Kathleen to her Facebook page along with images of Kathleen’s mother in the arms of the Grim Reaper.
As reported on AOL Health, Dr. Julius Licata, licensed psychologist and director of TeenCentral.net, an online counseling service for teens, said adults bullying children on the internet is quite common. “Adults cyberbully kids more than they do adults. Cyberbullying is safer for a lot of people. Real bullying takes a lot of gumption. Cyberbullies are actually bigger cowards.”
There are times when the bully transforms itself, necessary for its existence within the realm of a modern-day internet valuing an attention span of three seconds. Left undisturbed, the bully’s transformation includes trolling, a method where the bully provokes others, doing so because it can coerce at least one individual to respond. Distortion, flaming and inflaming quickly follow.
When questioned or called out on its overbearing hypocrisy, the internet bully quickly resorts to its can’t-you-take-a-joke and a LOL approach, its penchant for squealing like a little pig, and of course, conducting its business-as-usual approach with the prerequisite dose of bipolar disorder.
The internet bully will naturally scream to site management when its inane and flame-throwing comments are deleted by site members who have, frankly, had enough of its immature antics . In typical fashion, the internet bully will, when questioned or confronted, resort to what it believes is articulate pontification, using a heavy load of four-syllable words and suggestions as relevant as mush.
Always pushing the envelope, clever at quickly determining a site’s boundaries on bullying and clever at seeing what it can get away with, the internet bully is divisive by its very nature, often-times working behind the scenes via private messages to site members and publicly opening discussions about all things irrelevant.
Often allowed to operate on a site under the guise of a troll, the cyberbully openly and unabashedly searches for members to exploit by swooning them while flagrantly attacking other members, desperate in its need for peer approval and a way to increase its page views.
Self-righteously believing itself to be an expert at manipulation, the internet bully continuously searches the avenues available as it practices that manipulation, a fact many site owners, administrators and managers would readily attest to, provided they themselves were wrapped within the cloak of anonymity.
Another tactic used by the cyberbully is publicly denouncing the “delete” button, that it is an assault against their basic human right of free speech. Many sites offer the feature to discourage bullying, or as site administrators say, to be used against spamming, graphic language and character attacks. The internet bully begins discussions highly critical and patronizing of other site members, often including the standard “several people have PM’d me and are in agreement with me” tactic. As Bully Online reports, this is standard “bullyspeak”.
Another extreme measure for the internet bully is contacting site members privately, asking for them to read its blogs, saying it doesn’t need the page views nor does it want members to hit the “like” button after reading it. For example, “Just one condition before you click the link though: no votes for it please, don’t vote for it...I don’t need the votes.” As if. Extreme, but measures they practice and employ nevertheless.
Examples of the internet bully are glaring and most obvious in the numerous on-line comment sections, whether those comments be on writer’s sites or on international news organization sites. As recent events have shown, the plight of the internet bully is seen by some as entertaining, even as a form of bonding with the bully.
However, there is little sympathy shown toward sites condoning and even encouraging the internet bully’s behavior. Again, we can thank the darling of the internet, page views, as having something to do with that. Some sites even allow administrators the freedom to operate as trolls, publicly humiliating members, creating divisiveness and hostility among those members. Only when the administrator/troll has been publicly exposed is a lame and pathetic reasoning given for such behavior.
Another lame excuse provided by site administrators is that writers should expect “harsh” criticism of their work, all while preaching a “be nice” sermon that clearly carries little validity. Just ask the folks at hubpages about forewarned site implosions.
Any decent teacher involved in critiques can clearly outline the difference between harsh criticism and positive/negative reinforcement. Ditto for decent employers.
While all internet bullies are ultimately shown to be complete fools, some, in their struggle to be liked, even prefer being at the head of that select group. The Midland School District of Arkansas recently produced such a gem. That school district’s vice president, Clint McCance, has provided what is perhaps the classic case of an internet bully having its WTF moment, taking its need for peer approval to the galaxy of Facebook.
Responding to a “Wear Purple Day” campaign designed to show solidarity with gay youth over a disheartening rash of suicides, McCance pompously wrote on Facebook: “They want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way I’m wearing it for them is if they all commit suicide. I can’t believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed themselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”
If that writing style weren’t enough of the classic example of a bully quite full of itself, desperately seeking validation for its mediocre existence, McCance wrote in another post: “I like that fags can’t procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die. I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity... Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs.”
When all else fails, bring on the christian crusade. There is nothing quite as disturbing as the concept of hateful christians.
As Bully Online states: “The anger of a serial bully is especially apparent when they come across someone who can see through them to espy the weak, inadequate, immature, dysfunctional aggressive individual behind the mask.”
Unfortunately, internet bullying has become a serious and growing issue in need of immediate attention by all responsible parties. All told, when one learns to peel back the layers, the internet bully’s true intent is easily revealed. Like a cheap drunk, it has few endearing qualities.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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