Do the Bullies Stay Inside?
Although our work at Dare To Care has been halted in schools, work places and with sports teams during the Pandemic, we still are vigilant to the problem of Bullying in all its incantations. One of the important areas we cover in our workshops is online Cyber Bullying. As information technology systems evolve and improve at a speed far beyond the development of any other resource in history, it is often difficult to stay ahead of the curve. Cyber Bullying is a relatively new and sometimes difficult phenomena to identify and remedy. Online Bullying can emerge from anonymous sources. The damage can be instant and permanent, before anyone has an opportunity to intervene on behalf of the victims.
During the Covid-19 crisis, a 3-month time span has changed so much in our society and around the world. Schools were shut down at least until September. Many workers fortunate enough to remain employed, have had to shift their workspaces to the home. Sports, from community recreation leagues and all the way up to professional levels have gone full stop!
And with that drastic shift in education, work and play, so too have shifted the ways in which people interact with one another. Technology has become a pivotal tool in remaining connected and informed. Zoom meetings, social media platforms such as Instagram and Tic Toc, online gaming, dating applications like Tinder and Bumble and pod casts have become more prevalent in peoples’ daily routines. As people around the world have been forced indoors and distant, the popularity of these mechanisms of connection and communication has increased exponentially. As life now returns to a hybrid of normal and cautious restraint, the use of such technologies will continue to be part of the “New Normal.”
If we focus on Cyberbullying, we need to ask ourselves and our children; Are we safe within the boundaries of these platforms? Is the daily bombardment of unfiltered information and commentary we are witnessing, seeing and hearing healthy? Are we conducting ourselves in a proper manner?
Dare To Care offers The 3 Door Challenge as a simple decision making process that, with time and use, will become automatic and help avoid some issues that may arise while online. The idea is to ask yourself 3 critical questions as you contemplate posting a comment or item online. The Questions are: Can I say this to the person’s face? How would I feel if this was said about me? Could I stand in front of the people who love me most and respect me or an authority figure and say what I am about to say?
As you ask yourself each question, picture an imaginary door you must walk through in order to proceed with your post. If at any point you could not walk through the door to the next door, you do not post what you are contemplating. Again, with time and practice, this decision-making process becomes automatic.
Sometimes we must apply that decision-making process as we are replying to negative commentary directed to us. The first best practice action should be to take time away. Allow time for the wave of anger or emotion to subside so that you can take a rational action. Then, at a later time, if a reply is still necessary apply the 3 Door Challenge as you articulate your thoughts. Remember, replying in anger can potentially cause more damage to you than the original negative post.
If you are a victim of Cyber Bullying, there are some strategies you can employ to protect yourself and end the cycle. Stop the person from communicating with you by either leaving the space in which you interact or block them outright. Those strategies are very effective. Record any evidence of harassment on your device. Having a record can help if matters become more serious and third-party intervention is needed. Finally, speak with someone about what is going on. A trusted friend or adult can help you see things from a different perspective and will alleviate feelings of isolation. Do not be afraid to contact authorities if hate crimes or threats of violence against you have been made. People need to know so they can help!
Finally, as the world returns to normal, some relationships and friendships may transition from online to the real-world encounters. If this is the case, use caution. Always inform someone of your whereabouts. Insist on meeting in a public place. Finally, arrange to contact someone at a certain time to ensure your safety.
As the online world during Covid times has allowed for some fascinating uses for technology as it relates to human interaction. Using some of the strategies discussed we can all enjoy the technology for what it was designed for in a “safe for all” manner.