“No one heals himself by wounding another” ~ St. Ambrose
After watching the documentary on Amanda Todd, reading about her court case, and hearing her mom talk about the experience (video below ~14:19), I think this idea is what keeps coming to mind. You can’t treat other people poorly just because you don’t feel good about yourself and causing someone else pain is not a cure for your own problems.
It really resonated with me when Carol Todd, Amanda’s mom, talked about how she became friends with a person who verbally attacked her after Amanda’s death. After receiving the rude message, Carol took offense and ignored it; however, the person later contacted her again to apologize. It was the way she responded to him that I think we should all take and learn from. She didn’t respond rudely. She responded as a person who was ready to listen. She asked, “what’s your story?” It turns out that this person was bullied as a child and the only way he knew how to make himself feel better was by spewing hateful comments at other people online.
This makes me think of a website that we looked at in my ECS110 class back a couple years ago. Nohomophobes is a website that counts the number of times homophobic language is used on twitter. Gabi Sobliye does a great job of giving more information about this site in her post Visualising #Prejudice: Tracking Casual Homophobia in Real Time. You can see the tweets fly by as the website counts them and what people say in these tweets is horrific. A part of me can’t comprehend why people are this way to others, but when it happens to us, I think the important thing to remember is to respond in a way similar to the way Carol did. If it doesn’t put you in dangers, listen to understand and then, help. We may not be the real reason for that person’s behavior, but that person is definitely going through something difficult in their life and it needs to be dealt with.
In the documentary, they talk about finding a safe neighborhood to live. Most times, we can do that. We can choose what we see and surround ourselves with in those places. However, when we step into the online world, EVERYTHING surrounds us and half the time, we don’t even know what exists there. Additionally, it is all just one click away. This can be scary, but just as we would teach our children to be safe when they leave the house, we need to teach them how to be safe online too. This should happen both at home and in the classroom.
People, including young children, using technology is pretty much a fact of every day life; so, there is no sense in telling them to stay off of it to stay safe. Instead we need to teach them how to use the technology to stay safe. It can start out by teaching simple safety tips to the students. Checkout Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for some of these tips. It is all about awareness, and children need to learn about the things that occur online and how to deal with them. There may be times when they will encounter someone who is online to create a place of hurt, fear, or guilt, but they need to know how to shut them out or get help for themselves or that person.
Unfortunately, life, whether online or offline, does not exist without people who hurt others. However, we must strive to not be one of those people and live to help others feel good. People are people, no matter where you go and we are all the same, but all different too. So, think of other’s before you think of you.