“The Web is What You Make of It”
This is Google Chrome’s new motto. While bullying has and always will exist, our obsession with technology has created a mutant form of this abuse… The H1N1 virus of harassment, if you will: cyber bullying. Cyber bullying occurs when modern communication technology is used to perpetuate a pattern of intentional, hostile behavior, aimed to hurt an individual or a group. With the widespread availability of technology as well as the abundance of social networking that we do, the act of bullying becomes easier and therefore, more widespread. As much as we love Facebook and Twitter, these social feeds create a distance between the bully and the bullied. Any interactions that happen through these venues eliminate person-to-person contact, which makes it easier to say things that we normally wouldn’t- especially not in person. You may have heard, “If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online.” It’s important for all of us to be wary of this idea because we’re becoming numb. It’s no longer always clear what will be perceived as hurtful. And even worse when it is clear what is hurtful, we don’t care. We say it anyway because the Internet makes it easy for us to do so.
But don’t be discouraged. There is hope! Dan Savage, an author, gay rights activist, and c0-parent, has created what’s called the “It Gets Better” campaign. It Gets Better is a breath of fresh air amidst this bullying culture, and is aimed at a specific audience of victims of homophobic and anti-gay bullying. While it does not offer concrete resources and tools to effectively deal with bullies (in cyberspace or otherwise), it offers love and support by promoting a positive outlook on life and hope for the future: it DOES get better if you get out there and live the life that makes you happy. This Google Chrome commercial is uplifting because it not only promotes Savage’s worthwhile message, from which we can all learn, but also provides a way to harness the positive influence of the Internet. You and I and we all have the power to use the Internet as we please, but do everyone a favor: Have the courage to do something decent. Just one click of that “post” button can hurt one person or it can help a million people. The web is what YOU make of it. So please… make it something good!