Adults need to outgrow cyberbullying

Grace Foiles is a junior theatre major.

Grace Foiles

Cyberbullying is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the electronic posting of mean-spirited messages about a person often done anonymously,” and it has become a prevalent issue in the information age.

With the development of more and more technology has come a new and innovative way to degrade our fellow human beings. Computer screens give people the opportunity to distance themselves from the cruelty of the act, and that has led to some truly brutal harassment.

The news in this day and age is rife with stories of children pushed over the edge by cyberbullies, and the dire consequences thereof. Stories have arisen of children taking their own lives or the lives of others because of this phenomenon, and something must be done.

When we think of bullying, schoolyard squabbles and the halls of high schools are typically what come to mind, but the reach of technological assault extends bullying far beyond the 13 to 18-year-old age range. There is evidence of this same despicable behavior among college students. Whether it’s racist, typo-ridden posts on Yik Yak or shared nude photographs from scorned ex-partners, college age students have made it clear that they are willing to stoop to this level of pathetic harassment as well.

There have been several instances of cyberbullying here on Washburn campus. As previously mentioned, the Washburn area Yik Yak, a phone application that allows members to post anonymously onto a location based message board, has been chock full of racist, sexist, derogatory and offensive messages. It is truly astounding that the only thing that was holding these students back before was having their name next to the comment. There have also been numerous situations in which collegiate organizations have been caught engaging in atrocious activities and then exposed over social media.

The information age is full of ways in which we can interact with one another, which is great as long as it’s being used in an appropriate fashion. To any and all individuals who view this as a way to “joke around” and who don’t think it’s a big deal, please understand that there are consequences to your actions and the words you type can carry a heavy weight. There are real live, flesh-and-blood human beings who suffer because of your digital text. Bigoted hate speech is bigoted hate speech whether shouted in person or typed up anonymously. It’s reprehensible to see Ichabods contributing to the systematic dehumanization of any group of people. We as a university should step up and crack down on this kind of behavior by punishing offenders and by creating a culture in which cyberbullying is not tolerated. Calling people names and tormenting them is terrible enough when you’re a cruel, angst-filled 14-year-old. but it’s downright abhorrent to see this behavior coming from people in their twenties. So the next time you want to be petty and mean to someone over the internet, step back from the keyboard or the touchscreen, think about the consequences of your actions and be an adult.