Stop Cyber Bullying – Behave Ourselves in the New Media Age

Here’s a story I would like to share with you guys. The girl in the picture is Shanshan Yuan, a young actress in China. Americans must be unfamiliar with this young lady because she’s not a well-known international superstar. However, she broke one record among Chinese actors and actresses in 2013 – She was harassed by thousands of cyber bullies in a whole year. Those cyber bullies were her anti-fans. The asked her to get out of Chinese entertainment industry by posting insulting words online continuously. They even concluded top five reasons why they dislike Shanshan Yuan, and here comes the most ridiculous part that one of the top five is no reason.

Fortunately, Shanshan Yuan didn’t give up in the battle of defending herself from cyber bullying. Instead of responding with bad words or just ignoring cyber bullies’ abusive language. Shanshan launched an activity named “Loving Criticism”. She promised to the publish that one more message she received from her social media, fifty more cents she would contribute to charity. After 24 hours, she gathered a hundred thousand comments and eventually devoted 50,693.5 yuan (RMB) in total. The money helped four disabled children recover from their diseases. Then she cut off all connections with social media for one year and devoted herself to gyms and charity. When she came back to the screen again, she had been a fitness talent and ambassador of charity. People who ever verbally abused her ever start becoming her fans now. On July 8th of 2015, Shanshan had an influential publish speech on TedxNingbo talking about Cyber Bullying, bringing this sensitive issue into the public’s eyes.

Shanshan is a success and lucky bird in terms of handling cyber bullying. However, some others harassed by cyber bullies may not be that successful and lucky. Some people struggle in the bad mood and even develop some physical illnesses. In the worst scenario, some of them end up with suicide.

Moreover, cyber bullying is actually a big threat to everyone in any vacation of any countries in the world, even to teenagers. Based on the data collected by Cyberbullying Research Center from a random sample of 457 students between the ages of 11 and 15 from a middle school in the Midwestern United States in February of 2015. 34% of the students in the sample report experiencing cyber bullying in their lifetimes. On the other hand, 14.6% of the students in our sample admit to cyber bullying others in their lifetimes.

The data is quite shocking! Everyone could be a victim or a bully, or sometimes both a victim and a bully at some points of his/her life in the battle of cyber bullying. As a matter of fact, with the new media age coming, social media has become an important component of our daily life. communicating with others has become more efficient and convenient, opinions and  comments can be posted online with just one click. However, the features of the Internet and all others kinds of new media also make cyber bullying different:

First, cyber bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7days a week, and reach anyone even when he/she is alone.

Second, cyber bullying contents and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to  trace the source.

The two features of cyber bullying throw cyber victims into a more worse situation than traditional victims. They are often bullied in person in a longer term in front of a much wider audience.

Facing the negative fact, I start rethinking the responsibility of online users, like you and me. Indeed, social media makes our life easier and more interesting, but in essence, it just offers us a brand new way to communicate with each other. Communicating with others online is just like talking to them in the real time. Everyone appreciates politeness, and no one likes that when people make fun and spread gossips, rumors or lies. So when we post our opinions or comments, keep in mind to treat people the way you like to be treated. Stop and think, before you click!

4 comments

  1. I really like this post because it touches upon something that we have all at least witnessed if not experienced. While Social Media has opened up a world with an abundance of possibilities, there are those out there that will always seek to find a negative aspect. The rise of cyber bullying is rampant and there have been documented cases of suicide and depression associated with it. People feel protected by the internet and feel less responsible for their actions, but they are just as harmful and hurtful than saying mean things in person. I think that we have to keep this in mind as social media progresses that we ensure that fewer avenues are available for bullies and clarify who’s responsible for ‘policing’ the web.

    1. Thank you for this comment, Bisman! I really like the point expressed in your last sentence. Yes, besides behaving ourself on a morality level, we also need to prevent cyberbullying on a legislative level. Hope we can talk more about this issue later in this semester.

  2. Luyuan, I really liked your opening — I had never heard of Shanshan Yuan before and I love getting to learn of new social media stories. I think her “Loving Criticism” campaign is a great example of how social media can be leveraged to promote positive effects from group participation (even when the members of the group don’t intend to be positive). Hopefully your expectations of social media aren’t completely influenced by the very-real problem of cyber-bullying — remember how Shanshan used it positively! Looking forward to reading your posts as we discuss the many opportunities and threats that social networks and platforms pose to communication tendencies.

    1. Hello Rose, thank you for this comment! I would like to share more new social media stories with you guys. As an international student from China, hopefully I could provide you news happened in China in the social media area. Just like Blake Chandlee (Facebook) said in the interview with our professor, the way people use social media is based in culture and on the systems or the networks in place or not in place. Therefore, I do think people in China may behave in a slightly different way comparing to people in the US. That’s a really interesting issue that catches my eyes. Hope I can have some good findings to share with my classmates.
      In addition, although I talked about cyberbullying as a downside of social media this week, I still believe that social network is supposed to spread goodness to each other, as Nicholas Christakis states in the lecture “the hidden influence of social networks”. So I belief what we need to do is not worrying about the potential risks of social media, but taking actions to avoid these risks in a systematical and practical way. Look forward to discussing more and sharing more with you guys later in this semester!

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