Last Friday was Stop Cyberbullying Day, an effort organized by Andy Carvin to discuss and find solutions to the “epidemic of online cruelty”.
I’m still not sure, so this post may be more rambling and incoherent than usual.
I still maintain that this issue goes way beyond conduct on the web. Our society seems to tolerate and even celebrate bullies, except, of course, when we are the targets.
So how do you alter that behavior in a culture that clings to unrestricted free speech rights almost as fervently as it clings to the supposed unrestricted right to carry guns?
Passing laws don’t work. Retaliation is usually worse behavior than the original. Ignoring bullies may feel good but hiding from a problem only delays facing it.
If we look at what works in teaching ethical behavior to kids, lectures, threats, promises, and preaching rarely do much good.
Kids model their moral behavior after the peers and adults they respect. Unfortunately, these days that includes a variety of media figures acting like fools or worse for the public theater.
It is, of course, even harder to get an adult to change their belief system but all of us who find the actions taken against Kathy Sierra reprehensible should start adopting and modeling some principles for our own actions online.
In that regard, the idea of a Blogger’s Code of Conduct is probably as good a place to start as any and Tim O’Reilly’s version is better than anything I could write.
I’m not sure I completely buy his item number 4 about “Ignore the Trolls” but when combined with other positive steps, I guess it fits.
One big problem with trying to write about the issue of cyberbullying is that I’ve never had to face the problem, certainly not in my blogging life.
The worst I’ve received is a few emails questioning my sanity and/or intelligence in reaction to an entry. In every case I responded with an message encouraging the writer to post their views in the comments section. None did.
A positive coming from all the discussion is a growing collection of resources on the subject, some of which will come in handy as we try to craft a training program for teachers and students in our district.
Now, if there was just some way I could turn on the “news” channels without having to watch all the video bullies on display there.