Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Was I Just Cyberbullied?

Being someone who loudly advocates for social media in the classroom realizes there may be instances of non-cyber-citizenship.  Being someone who uses social media (a bit addictively) I am conscientious of what I put out there.  Have there been times I wanted to make a snarky remark on Twitter or Facebook?  Sure.  But I didn't.  And there have been times I have felt strongly about someone's actions and wanted to reply, but didn't.  It's just not nice, and I don't want to be a part of possibly hurting someone else's feelings, no matter my opinion.  Even though I am quite aware that not everyone lives their cyber-life in that same fashion, I just didn't think something like that would happen to me.  

I was sitting on my couch the other evening working online and watching a movie.  I heard my phone chirp an alert that I had been texted.  I was waiting to hear from one of my friends and thought that it was her.  But, much to my surprise it wasn't.  It happened to be an old acquaintance whom I had not spoken to since October-ish.  Our acquaintanceship did not end on the most positive terms the last time we spoke, so I was a bit surprised to hear from her.  And then I read the text.  It was on the sarcastic side and had a gloating tone.  It sounded as if she had been waiting these past months to say something like this to me. 

Was I cyberbullied?  Yes.  The intent was there.  My feelings certainly were not hurt, but the intention of the text was absolutely meant to insult me, my intelligence, and my years of expertise.  Even if intent was absent, what if my feelings were hurt?  Social-emotional damage would have been done, and that is cyber-bullying. 
One of the most difficult things can be to think before we act.  Being someone who has struggled with this my entire life, I know just how difficult it is.  But, we have to do it.  We have to be cognizant of how we treat others, off and on-line.  (As I am writing this, the national news just so happens to be showing people shouting unkind comments at a public figure.)  We have to because we have to protect children.  If we live our lives the way we want them to live theirs, they will be protected.