Keyboard Thugging

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Dear Cyber Bullies:

For so long I have loathed how the phrase “bully” became the de facto term to use to describe any mean-spirited behavior exhibited by your average jackass. However, it’s become increasingly harder to deny that much of the behavior branded as “bullying” is just that – especially when it comes to the idea of cyber bullying, the nouveau way to be a coward. A lot of focus is deservingly placed on the monstrous school kids driving their peers to suicide, but there’s something to be said of the adults behaving just as juvenile and despicable.

Things like:

“Drop dead.”

“I hate your life more than you do.”

“You make me love birth control more with each passing tweet.”

“May the arthritis catch you sooner than later.”

“I dare you to go do the wobble on the 405 during rush hour.”

Why is it so hard for some of you to behave on Al Gore’s Internet?

A while ago, I read a story about a New York woman being cyber stalked by a man she briefly dated. The dude was so butt hurt over the breakup that he proceeded to spread lies about her across the Internet and send constant threats where he promised to hurt both her and her dog. Like, her damn dog. Lassie can’t even sleep at night over fears that he and his owner are going to get Cujoed. Even worse, New York’s CBS 2 investigative reporter Tamara Leitner uncovered that the guy “created a video that contained very disturbing images of a woman, a blonde woman, being strangled.”  Hell and no.

There are similar stories in other nations.

Then there’s the new reality for many women in media who find themselves on the receiving end of an onslaught of threats via Facebook and Twitter for simply articulating their point of view. Such was the case for contributor Zerlina Maxwell, whose challenge of social myths about rape was met with threats of sexual assault.

Same goes for my editor, Jamilah Lemieux, whose mentions tend to look like a virtual village idiot convention depending on whatever thoughtful sociopolitical commentary she publishes.

There’s an overall growing meanness in our culture. As often as I joke online that “trolls be winning,” the reality is that being an soulless piece of [redacted] can garner one a lot of attention – a reward for anyone dying to be acknowledged and willing to do whatever it takes to get that.

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