Are YOU Your Own Worst Enemy?
Arguably, no one "deserves" to be bullied online. But, sometimes our own behavior makes us a target or contributes to an ongoing stalking or bullying problem. This tends to happen in two circumstances, when we over share certain types of information and when are looking for a fight.
1# Are you a troll magnet?
If you find yourself a frequent target of online harassment and bullying, it may be as a result of some of the things that you are sharing.
There was a time when “nice” people didn’t talk about sex, money, religion, or politics in a public forum. Today, many people feel no compunction at all about exposing the most intimate details of their lives and beliefs online. Unfortunately, this level of exposure is seen by some as an open invitation to belittle you as entertainment.
2# Are you purposely inviting criticism?
While it is certainly your right to share your opinions, when you talk about controversial subjects, you increase the likelihood that others will respond with their own opinions. Since the internet allows people to make comments anonymously, some people will take the opportunity to express their opinions in ways that are ugly, insulting, and sometimes obscene. If you are making posts that by their very nature, invite criticism, you can’t be legitimately surprised when you are criticized.
3# Do you know the rules of the sand box?
Online forums can be a lot like private clubs, what is acceptable or encouraged in one venue can be reviled and get you tossed out of another. Before you start engaging in a lot of potentially controversial banter, learn the rules of the particular sandbox…and stick to them. If you really enjoy heated political debate, make sure that you are in a forum that is designed for that sort of behavior, before you start posting your opinions.
4# Are you living in Kum Bay Yah land?
In an ideal world, we could all sit around sharing our feelings in a judgement free zone, singing kum bay yah and respecting each others differences. But, in the real world, what you "should" be able to do and what you "can" do are often two very different things. That's not to say that we shouldn't strive for a better more inclusive place, but that people who refuse to acknowledge the realities can be in for a real disappointment when it comes to the behavior of others.
Yes, you "should" be able to post about your devotion to a particular political candidate without getting grief from those who oppose him/her, but you probably can't.
Yes you should be able to post a picture of yourself in a forum filled with anonymous strangers and avoid people making sexual comments or comments about your size, shape, age, fashion sense, or attractiveness, but unfortunately, you probably can't.
If you find that you get upset about the comments of others when you post things online, you might want to stop posting those types of things or at least consider the sand box.
5# Are YOU a troll?
I have to admit to being a little surprised when I talk to people about online bullying and discover that they started the altercation by posting something rude, insensitive or incendiary about someone else online. But it happens all the time. Some of the nicest people I have met off line have a "secret" life online as an anonymous troll. It gives them a sense of power. But some suffer real stress when they themselves become the target. If you are the person who is using the anonymity of the internet to attack other people’s beliefs or post “funny” little observations that are causing the poster distress and generating backlash, just knock it off, you’re being a jerk.
People who are already victims of bullying and stalking have to be very careful as to what they share online. Don't make your situation worse by making yourself a troll magnet or engaging in troll behavior.