“Basically…. don’t be a bully.”

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BY KURT RALLINGS 

“You’re a dick,” I sarcastically comment on a friend’s most recent Facebook status. 3 seconds later, cue people taking my comment the wrong way and lashing out.

This is an extremely common occurrence on Facebook and, in fact, any site on the internet that allows for social interaction. From one persons end, a funny and innocent comment has been blown out of proportion; whilst on the other hand people are viewing it as an attack on a mutual friend and have valiantly leapt to their defence. I’m not saying defending someone is a bad thing. I encourage it. What I am saying is that perspectives are important. Sometimes something you view as not being an attack can be viewed that way by another person and vice versa.

Take, for example, a recent art project that was blown out of proportion on the social platform Tumblr. Julia, a sixteen year old Tumblr user, shared a powerful art project on her blog. The photography class project given to her was to create a self portrait by taking photos of meaning that described the individual. As an avid reader, Julia came up with her project after finishing reading a particularly good story. She decided that she would show how she felt whilst reading a novel through to how she felt when the story was over via a series of pictures. This involved destroying, by ripping and burning, some of the first books that had ever hurt her and made her want to throw them across the room (Don’t lie; it’s happened to all of us).

It was a powerful project and one that I, personally, applaud along with many other people who saw the project on Tumblr. However, there were those who found the project offensive and as such felt it necessary to attack Julia for her hard work. Many people found the maltreatment of the novels distasteful and decided telling Julia that she was a horrible human being was the appropriate way to go about voicing their opinion. Whilst others likened the project to the Nazi book burnings, stating it was a destruction of knowledge, even though any logical thinker would realise destroying one copy of a bestselling book is not really going to destroy the knowledge of the book on a global or even a national scale. Any constructive critic would have read the statements provided, linked in the post, that detailed the meaning behind the project and that the books burned were precious to Julia herself. Education on the matter is sometimes all that stands between someone being a bully or a support figure.

View the art project here

This example clearly shows that perspective can play a major part in bullying. Certainly perspective isn’t always in play. Sometimes someone’s intent is just to be malicious for no reason. But it is an interesting point to consider.

Reacting to something negatively is fine. That’s your opinion. But be constructive in your criticism. Treat it like a debate. Disagree with the statement, comment or project (whatever it may be!) BUT do not attack the speaker/creator for their opinion or work.

If you have ever been bullied yourself then you know what hateful comments can do to a person on a psychological level. It is not a fun experience. If you haven’t been bullied then let me give you a brief rundown of what can become of bullying victims. They can become depressed, develop an anxiety disorder, become socially stunted (social awkwardness is not fun), self harm and in extreme cases some are driven to suicide.

Basically, don’t be a bully. You have no idea what the repercussions of your comments could be.

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