ANYONE raised in a time, and in the circumstances, when doilies, fish knives, and the practice of men taking off their hats during a moment’s silence to honour someone who has recently died, were routine, would be appalled by some of the aggression shaping so many online conversations.
This aggression is of course facilitated by anonymity, because many of the wild statements come from usual mild-mannered and thoroughly rational people. That anonymity is also at the root of dangerous online bullying, bullying that too often has the most lethal consequences.
An expert on anti-bullying, James O’Higgins Norman, director of the National Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre at DCU, has suggested that we need to re-educate our children about the appropriate use on online social media. This may seem a Sisyphean challenge, especially the internet’s evolution seems to offer more and more opportunities for individuals to remain anonymous.
A good first step would be treating sites that allow people to hide behind invented names with the greatest suspicion.
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