August 9, 2013
What we need to ask about ask.fm 4
When one mentions the web site, Ask.fm, unfortunately, it is usually in the same breath as the term cyber-bullying. We all know that bullying is never acceptable but it is something that never goes away from our society. Cyber-bullying is a newer form of bullying, which can infiltrate a victim’s life 24-7. Bullies no longer need to be within the same area as their victims to cause them huge anxiety. As we know, two Irish teenage girls died last year after being contacted on Ask.fm and last week a girl in Leicestershire also died after hurtful comments were written to her on the same web site.
It’s the same with other web sites. For example, a couple of weeks ago, Twitter was the platform used to make dreadful comments about women. Previously, when the pop singer, Adele, had a baby, some people took to Twitter to threaten her. I see it everyday when I log on to any web site that allows comments. Just take a look at any slightly controversial subject on any of the national newspaper sites and you’ll see people abusing each other, most often complete strangers. While Ask.fm is used almost solely by teenagers, abusing people on the Internet appears to be a social issue across ages and genders. I left a well-known Irish education forum a few years ago due to comments of a personal nature.
Before I go on, I’m not an expert in the psychology of why online abuse or cyber-bullying happens. However, when I look at the term, social media, I don’t think the problem lies with the “media,” I think the problem lies thoroughly with the “social.” Because I’m not an expert, there are more than likely going to be things in this article that are wrong. I would appreciate it if I am pointed in the right direction where I am wrong. My plan is to explore what we need to ask ourselves about Social Media and why teenagers are self-harming and killing themselves.
Social Media has transformed the way we use the Internet. People are able to connect with each other without being in the same room, or even the same country and they are able to collaborate in real time with each other. For example, Google Docs allows hundreds of people work together on a document at the same time and create something. Some web sites enable people to ask a question and get feedback. For example, Doctors 2.0 is a web site that lets users ask questions about particular medical questions and a group of doctors will help to answer these questions. Forums (or fora) are used for people to be able to have conversations about various topics. Teachers have the Education Posts Forum; parents have Rollercoaster or MagicMum. Whatever your interest, there’s a forum for you. Some of these web sites are moderated, some aren’t. Some of these web sites are anonymous; some aren’t.
Ask.fm, Twitter, Facebook, most blogs and several thousand other sites give all Internet users the power to add content. 99.9% of the time, this is used for good. The problem is the time when they aren’t. What do we need to do about this? Over the next few articles, I will ask some of these questions and hopefully come to some conclusions.