Tuesday, October 23, 2012

On Civility

Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about bullying in schools, something I experienced, well, a lot. From fourth to eighth grades I was a verbal punching bag for about ten percent of the students and even a few teachers, while the other ninety percent did pretty much nothing no matter how many times I went to the guidance counselors and principals. Seriously, it was to the point that the one time someone stood up for me I was stunned into silence because holy crap, someone with confidence was telling a jerk to shut up and he listened.

But it some ways, I got off easy. Back then (waaaaay long ago, in the nineties) the internet was only partially integrated into our lives. No Facebook, no Myspace, no pages made to make fun of me. And for that I am insanely grateful. I mean, online anonymity is possibly the worst invention for the oversensitive. Have you ever read the comments at the bottom of a news story? That. All the bullies have been given the freedom to behave their worst on a wide scale. How’s that for a Halloween scary story?

So it follows that school bullies plus internet equals bad news. There’s no escape at home anymore, no respite from the pain. Twenty-four seven the immature dillholes who have it out for you can shit on your reputation and remind you that you’re worthless.

I know none of you reading my blog act like this, but I had to get it off my chest. I just wish everyone would be nicer. Not just kids. Everyone. Who do you think they learn from? Adults, who I’ve seen yell at servers for making a sandwich wrong and make fun of those who screw up while playing a baseball game. Bullying behavior should never be tolerated, online or in life. Derisive comments should be deleted—not criticisms but actual harassing, degrading, debasing words. People insulting or bullying others should be told in no uncertain terms to shut up.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences.

Okay, I’ll shut up now. What are your thoughts about online bullying? What do you think should be done about it?


  1. I think text and chat makes people forget that they're dealing with other humans and that words can harm. Non-face to face confrontation is safe in anonymity, so the bully feels even more freedom. I don't know how to fix this.

  2. Online bullying is so scary. I can't even imagine what might've happened to people I know if we'd had Facebook and all that stuff in my high school days. Yikes.

  3. I hear ya. I don't have many good memories from my school years because of bullying. The physical abuse stopped in junior high, but the verbal abuse and shunning went on until I started college. It's tough being the shy, awkward kid--and man, was I ever one of those!

    While I can relate to the temptation to get things off our chests and how the anonymity of the internet makes that worse, I don't understand why people can't just be nice to one another. But then, I've never been terribly competitive.

  4. I have a fifteen year old son. He's not the popular guy, but he isn't bullied either. Still, I won't let him have a Facebook account just because it would be so easy for students to attack if they decided he would make a good target. The anonymity of the internet makes it way too easy for people to be a-holes and get away with it.

  5. I don't know. What can you do? I try to be nice in my day to day dealings. I try to ignore those that use harsh words. You can't fix the world. You can only fix yourself.

  6. Online kind of takes our civility filters right out and we can end up taking things a bit too far.

    I try to be civil, though periodically, if there's someone I encounter with regularity who's a blowhard, obnoxious, or bigoted creep in an online group, I'll let them have it.


Please validate me.