It’s been a strange old week.
The Paralympics are in full swing, a vagina tightening cream was revealed, ‘Jelly Bean’ was caught out praising his own work and Victoria unleashed a new license plate slogan.
Given I don’t drive, think a vagina tightening cream is just wrong, consider ‘Jelly Bean’ a narcissistic prat and can’t watch the Paralympics due to my lack of a television, there’s only one issue that has dominated my mind this week; cyber-bullying – or, to call it what it is – abuse.
Issue of the Week
The cyber-bullying monster raised its ugly head at the tail end of last week. For those who missed it, or live outside of Australia, the trigger on this occasion was the events surrounding Next Top Model judge Charlotte Dawson, who ended up being admitted to hospital following an apparent suicide attempt after a vicious campaign of abuse had been directed at her via Twitter.
As per usual, the deniers were out in force; she should have blocked the abusers, she should have switched off the internet, she should have realized that it’s basically her fault, she shouldn’t have goaded the trolls, she shouldn’t have walked into a bar wearing revealing clothing because, let’s be honest, that’s just asking for it.
Okay, she didn’t do the latter. I slipped that in at the end of the paragraph to illustrate my belief that all the talk about logging off Twitter, blocking abusers and how she shouldn’t have re-tweeted their tweets is nothing more than victim-blame mentality.
If someone is being bullied at work, you wouldn’t tell them to just stop going to work.
If someone is being abused at home, you wouldn’t tell them not to talk about what’s happening.
If someone is being raped, you wouldn’t tell them that it’s their fault for goading the rapist.
As with other forms of abuse, the discussion focused on what the victim did wrong (thus, bringing the abuse on themselves) instead of looking at what the perpetrator did wrong (thus, dealing with the actual problem).
Which, in my opinion, is the continual disintegration of decency within society. There has always been bullying in some form or another, there has always been abusive behavior and the intentional degradation of others, but the onset of the Internet has created a positive breeding ground for anonymous haters to unleash their bile on the rest of humanity without fear of retribution or consequence.
From the top levels of government, seeping down through all walks of life into the kindergarten playgrounds, Australia is fostering an abusive culture. Such behavior is forgiven, excused, accepted and denied as ‘larrikinism’ or ‘the Aussie way of life’. The words taken as abuse were ‘misinterprated’ or ‘deserved’. The victim is making a mountain out of a mole-hill whilst their attacker sits back and relishes in the pain they’re causing.
In spite of movements to raise awareness of bullying and abuse the victim-blame mentality continues to reign supreme in this country. The debate this week should not have revolved around what Charlotte Dawson did right or wrong, the debate should have revolved around what Australia can do to make the internet a safer, more regulated place – and what it can do to improve support services for the people who are being abused.
Blocking users, logging off the internet or telling someone to just keep their chin up are not solutions, they are not even Band-Aids; they’re just excuses voiced by people who don’t understand the severity of the problem.
Everyone who uses the internet – whether it be news forums, Twitter or other social networking sites – should be able to do so safely. Just as someone going to work should expect a safe environment to operate in or someone enjoying a night out should expect not to be attacked randomly in the street.
My final word on the matter:
Cyber-bullying is just another example of the abusive culture we’ve been encouraging for decades. It is never acceptable, under any circumstances, to bully and abuse another individual.
Until there are consequences for their actions, abusers will continue their behavior, regardless of the pain and damage they are causing to the lives of their victims.
In all honesty, how many people need to die before society admits we have a serious problem that is fast becoming out of control?
Five things I learned this week
1. I have fourteen reasons to feel incredibly depressed. Yay!
2. 57 % of surveyed Australian women over 40 who say they want to have sex at least once a week; proportion who actually do: 36%.
3. Men can – and do – suffer from Postnatal Depression. Which technically I already knew, but at least now it’s been confirmed by a reputable source.
4. 125 students at Harvard University are being probed for cheating. If you’re lucky enough to have the chance of an elite education; don’t squander it by doing something as pathetic as this!
5. A new bookshop in Melbourne allows you to take a book for free, as long as you replace it with another. This is a wonderful idea that will benefit all booklovers – especially those, like I, who are unable to purchase books because of poverty and homelessness.
Five things I plan to do next week
It’s not often I get to feel pride over my own success, but all five of the objectives I set myself last week were completed. Perhaps I should mark the occasion with a celebratory jig or an imaginary glass of champagne?
‘Asylum of the Daleks’, the first episode of series 7 of Doctor Who, was wonderful. After last season, which aside from a few highlights I was disappointed with, it was an excellent start to a series I have high hopes for. Plus, massive kudos to Stephen Moffat and the team for keeping Jenna Louise Coleman’s introduction secret; we need more surprises like this in today’s spoilercentric world.
In terms of social networking, I have begun using the site again. Although I am yet to contact anyone directly, I have been dipping into the forums and sharing a few opinions here and there.
Stiffed, the first two chapters at least, is an excellent and intriguing read whilst I had completely forgotten how wonderful Frasier is. David Hyde Pierce, I salute you :)
Meanwhile, my blog – although sporadic in quality – has been updated twice a day, every day!
As for next week, perhaps I need a few tougher challenges:
1. Watch One Tree Hill Season 9 and write a blog about how this show changed my life.
2. Make at least two new friends on the social networking site (i.e. message people…gulp!)
3. Begin…and finish…The Comfort of Our Kind.
4. Come up with a new weekly series idea for my blog; which, given it’s only a few days away, I better start working on pretty soon!
5. Post at least one constructive comment a day, anywhere on the internet.
My five favourite posts I published this week, in case you missed them, are:
1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Free Spirit
2. My 100th Post: The past, present and future of All That I Am
3. Unsent Letter #1: The first real friend I ever had
4. Seven things that make me happy (as searched via Google)
5. Twenty life lessons I learnt whilst homeless
Five posts that other people wrote that rocked my world, are:
1. The Conversation: The Vagaries of Vulgarity and Honour Among Perverts
2. So You Think You Can Think: What If I Am Stronger Than I Think I Am
3. Becky Blanton: Mark, people, including the homeless themselves, still see the homeless…
4. Pride in Madness: I Used to Write
5. Mail Online: Men are suffering a depression epidemic too… and some of it is caused by women
and my favourite blog of the week is The Curse of the Single Parent, so be sure to check it out :)
My three favourite photographs of the week: