Today the majority of American’s are a click away from cyber-humiliation. With about ninety-two percent of people armed with smartphones, we’re no longer afforded the luxury of an oops moment without risking it going viral.
Whether you have a meltdown at an airport or nearly lose your child at a zoo, there will be someone to document and tweet your most embarrassing moments. Once it goes viral, the onslaught of vicious comments can be brutal. Why do people insist on pouring digital salt on open virtual wounds?
According to researcher Lindsay Blackwell who studies online harassment, “we’re all equally capable” of troll behavior. It’s not only about being labeled a bully, you could be the nicest person in the world, but wake up on the wrong side of the bed — or having a bad day, and you too, can become that troll according a Stanford University survey.
Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate interviewed attorney Mitch Jackson, a social media leader and influencer, who has experienced his share of trolls. He places them in two categories:
· Recreational trolls – Ones that are simply annoying and will eventually go away after you block them and ignore them.
· Criminal trolls – The ones you need to take more seriously, ones that are out to seriously harm you/and/or your business.
Technology has amplified bullying and harassment. It’s no longer isolated to school hallways, lunchrooms, neighborhoods or even to your own home. It’s now magnified by million. Worse than that — the victim will constantly check-in with the harassment and it only perpetuates the emotional pain.
It’s no longer a mean tweet or cruel comment. People have become vicious and are quick to pile on insults when they see someone being torn down online. I know this firsthand. As someone that was a victim of a smear campaign, I know what’s it like to have complete strangers throwing cyber-smut your direction and you feel completely powerless over it.
Today there are many options for youth and adults if they are facing online hate and harassment. Shame Nation is packed with firsthand stories and over twenty-five experts and contributors that share their resources with the readers to help them navigate the sometimes troubled waters of cyberspace.
Preventing online shaming:
1. Be mindful with what you share: Check in with yourself. Consider the post, is 15-minutes of humor worth a lifetime of humiliation?
2. Never assume you’re among friends: Choose quality over quantity. It’s time to de-clutter your friends list.
3. Never put a temporary emotion on the permanent internet: Write as if the world is watching. In many ways, they are.
To learn more about the different forms of online harassment and how to protect yourself and others, check out the infographic below.