Internet Bullying among "Adults"

The internet is a fantastic place. Lots of ways to communicate, lots of information to learn. But there is a darker side to it all.

Bullying isn't a new phenomenon, it's been going on since the days of Cain and Abel. What is new is the internet has opened up new avenues for carrying out the bullying. Gone are the old days of writing something nasty on the bathroom walls. Slam books are so 1980's. Now, Facebook and Twitter gives you a whole new platform with a much larger audience.

And it's not just kids getting involved in the e-bully phenomenon. Normally well behaved adults will engage in things that would make a middle-schooler shake their head at in disbelief.

Recently I ran across a twitter account by Kate Gosselin. Now, I'm not a fan of reality shows in general. I fully believe that there needs to be strong regulations in place to protect children from the abuses of Hollywood. I would never open up my life to cameras and perfect strangers. However, there are some that choose this kind of life. And that's their right to make that choice. You know when you take that life style on, there will be some who don't like you, no matter what you do. You expect to have detractors in the press and on line. It's the nature of the game. There are few things America likes to do more than tear people down. Blogs are created both to support and detract from those who put their lives out there. TMZ, Radar On Line and People Magazine were created to follow the exploits of the famous and infamous.

Twitter brings things to a whole new level though. Hate in 140 characters or less.Twitter offers bullies a way to ply their venom in a semi-anonymous way. No real names required. No location. No requirement for backing up your claims. No over-sight. Just let those finger tips fly, truth and common decency be damned.

What struck me was the VENOM posted by some of these tweeters. Calling Kate the 'C' word, Speculations on an inappropriate relationship between her and her (married) body guard, Steve. Her manner of dress (she's a skank, a 'ho, she's trolling...) The way she quizzed the kids on their spelling test during the drive to school (watch out kids, mama khate might get po'd that you spelled a word wrong and drive the van in to the river).

Here are just a few (WARNING: Some of these are graphic and quite disturbing)

mojitosplace Mojitos Place
@support harrassment RT @Save8fromK8 RT @hugejardon1 @Kateplusmy8 Hi Kate, you overprocessed bitch. Have you slapped your kids today?

hugejardon1 Mike Johnson
@Kateplusmy8 Hey you possom haired wonkey eyed child abuser, animal abuser

EmeraldCityJazz Emerald
@chablis4u @hgraymommy @honeythekoala Kate doesn't have time for dumb; that's why she only spends 5 minutes per day tweeting her fans....

Stellamebaby stella fields
@Kateplusmy8 clip of NZ. Nauseating. How many X can you say I, I, I, me, my, I, I, I, I, me, my, I, I, I, I, me, me, I, I, I, I in one clip?

Stellamebaby stella fields
@Kateplusmy8 LPBW never had ratings that bad! Buh bye, bitch!

But it wasn't just Kate Gosselin who was the recipient of the rants. They were directed at anyone who tweeted anything nice TO her. Something as simple as "your kids are so cute" results in a multi-pronged attack, calling them child abusers and worse. My favorite, though, was one of the Twitter Twats who justified her rants by saying she was "Doing the Lord's Work". Really? Jesus WANTS you to be abusive and vile?

Some of these people call themselves "child advocates". Again, really? The definition of an advocate is someone who supports or defends. How is belittling someone an act of advocating?

The nice thing about Twitter is that if someone is harassing you, you can "block" them. Unfortunately, it's still there for others to read. Those "others" include children and teens.

Is this the example we want them to see? Is this how we want them to behave?  Then why do we do it ourselves?

The news has been full of stories lately about teens committing suicide after being bullied on Facebook and Twitter.  I can't imagine the pain they must have gone through prior to committing such a desperate act.  How alone they must have felt.  I don't think parents can truly understand how devestating these incidents are to kids.  I got bullied all through Junior High.  I remember the dread of walking down the halls to my locker.  My defense became making fun of myself before anyone else could.  I say it was a defense, but I was merely deflecting.  Deep down it still hurt. To this day, I still can't take a compliment without either downplaying my actions or wondering what the ulterior motive is. 

What are you doing to arm your kids against bullying?  What are you doing to make sure that you aren't a bully yourself?

UPDATE:  I expected to get flack for this post and I was right.  Several lovely tweets.  My favorite was this one:
Queen Sue Bee
@ @ @ Just 2 clear thingsUp 4 Donna(since shes dazed)I assure U I am NO child advocate 4 any kids excpt MINE
Since she's not claiming to be a child advocate, that means she just enjoys being a bully.

I am laughing at the irony, though.  The name Queen Sue Bee immediately brought to mind the book Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.  The book is about girls and bullying and was the basis for the movie "Mean Girls".  If you have teen/tween daughters, I highly recommend this book.

Here is another one:
@ @ @ @ @ Go back to your dumb blog you uneducated twit
Remember, these are people who are SUPPOSED to be adults.  You really have to hope these type of people don't have children.  Such great role models they are.