Rushville Republican

Columns

October 22, 2013

Bullying made easier with social technology

(Continued)

With what I have just stated, most readers may understand how a person can easily come to be a bully when communicating through his or her cell phone, computer, or other similar device. What I have not stated is how much more damaging it may be for the person targeted by the bully when these same psychological factors of mediated communication come into play.

The victim must also rely on the same psychological interpretation practices when decoding messages. They too will become an actor in a scene where they must create a visual image of an entire scene that culminated the eventual hurtful remarks or messages being sent to them or about them. Differing from a face-to-face encounter where the victim realizes how the bullying played out in real-time, such as who was present and so on, in the mediated communication event, he or she must somehow construct the entire scene of who was present and what other actions occurred at the same time. The bullied victim becomes helpless to defend in this circumstance because they were not present in a live encounter. He or she may imagine a scenario way worse than what actually is the truth such as thinking every person he or she knows is “in on the personal attack.” Perhaps though, the most tragic part of being on the bullying end during a mediated communication event is that the “imaginary scene” can be replayed repeatedly, without end.

Over time, words and actions can soften and blur after a live interaction, but this is not necessarily true for messages received in other social forums. Words and images can be captured for eternity from cell phone text messages and computer screens. A person can print off and re-read what has been posted and so even if the bully deletes derogatory comments, they are not really gone because someone may have already captured the messages. This is a sad fact that many people do not take into consideration when engaging in this behavior. Hitting the delete button isn’t a guarantee of anything after it’s already been posted. Once you say it or post it, you own it.

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