The Internet is rife with examples of online hostility. The situation has become so bad that CiviliNation regards it as a public health issue. Often the first thing people ask is what they can do to stop this epidemic, and we show them how they can help. The second thing people ask is whether individuals who have attacked others online can really change, and we tell them yes…if they want to.
It’s the realization that they’ve dehumanized their targets and that what may have been pure entertainment to them actually resulted in pain to others, that brings some attackers and bullies around.
I only did it once and I know it was wrong and stupid and bad….Yeah, I’m not very proud of that, and I wish I could apologize.
I quickly learned the art of “snark,” otherwise known as a comeback laced with snap and sarcasm and irony….I was smart. Biting. Witty. But cruel. The worst part is? I thought I was being funny. In my heart and mind, I was being tongue-in-cheek and full of sass. People were afraid of me, and I got a high off the ass-kissing and pontificating. I thought I was “harmlessly” educating stupid questions that were deserving of snide remarks, punishment for inadequacy. Looking back, I was simply being cruel….If you are ever hounded by an online mean girl, please take heart – it’s not you, it’s her. She is intimidated by something she sees in you because it reflects something inside of her – either something she hates to see in herself, or more often, pure jealousy over what she lacks in comparison.
It takes great courage to admit mistakes and deal with the potential public backlash resulting from past misdeeds. Where there is sincere regret and the desire to behavior differently in the future, we should allow individuals to make amends and reestablish themselves as positive members of the online community.