Keyboard Crackpots – conversation without consequence.
You click on a link and see a much bigger boy being videoed as a much smaller child bounces around like a demented Bruce Lee infected kangaroo in front of him. Calls and comments are heard in the background. Slaps are given from smaller boy to larger boy. Finally the larger boy appears to snap and wham! A small boy is pile driven into concrete and everyone is in a whole mess of trouble by the time it hits the evening Sydney news. The instigator, the videographer and the finisher of this ghastly scene all face suspension and a hell of a lot of explaining to do.
By the time it reaches 10pm in Sydney, there are Facebook groups in support of either child baying for payback, for more rigorous punishment, for “name and shame” style disclosure. There are enraged parents stating they’ve told their own kids to “not take bullies sh#t” behind statements of “I don’t agree with violence but…” as they launch into mini tirades. So inflamed, so upset and compelled by the video they have seen, there is a lot of conversation, discussion and argument amongst the various groups. There are appeals for calm and there are calls for expulsion. But there is not a lot of thinking done about the impact of these conversations or discussions and their consequences.
For starters, the several 1000’s of people that have joined these groups have failed to realise they would have no way of knowing how the parents or school have dealt with the incident in any great or even helpful detail. Nor have they considered the consequences of their condemnation on the students involved, the school or the other kids within the school and the impact that would have. But beyond the spotlight is has thrown on the school and its staff and students, possibly the worst issue with this situation is they have chosen an open source forum on the internet to discuss this issue at length. One that any of the kids involved can easily access. By doing so, they have in turn become cyber bullies themselves.
On the “Suspend the bully not Casey” Facebook group, people refer to the younger kid who was slammed into the ground with words such as “little prick” and “got what he deserved”. They praise the body slam and call for Casey’s tormentor to be outed by name. They mob together to read the riot act about why teachers are to blame for not being in the playground and relay their own stories at the hands of their childhood tormentor. Is this the right way to use language which describes the pile driving into cement of a twelve year old boy?
No, I don’t agree with what the younger boy did. I also don’t agree with Casey’s response. What upsets me more is the response of the supposedly responsible adults. Those who are not even remotely related to either child or the school, who don’t teach and have no background in childhood psychology making grandiose statements and playing a tidy little game of “pin the blame on the school kid”. Do we really have to get to a point of condoning violence, shaming children and ignoring the impact these conversations will now have on all children who read the content? Can’t we just leave the poor bloody kids alone?
Australia, I am a little worried about you because you are taking this whole internet anonymity a tad too far. I mean, kids are now targets because their couple of minutes of fame goes from playground to internet to national news. People genuinely wrote things on the “Dear Gerry Harvey” anti-online tax Facebook site laughing at the misery of franchisees whose stores ended up underwater during the QLD floods. Sydney gig goers called for Justin Hemmes to be beaten up for buying the Excelsior Hotel. Are things honestly that terrible that our resolve is to talk about thumping them senseless just because we don’t agree with what someone is doing? Are we really that protected by typing the majority of us don’t see that connection to (in most cases) our real name on Facebook?
I love social media. But sometimes I am not so sure if I am that fond of the ways in which people choose to use it.
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