Via Shakesville comes the singularly awful story of a teenage girl who committed suicide after being verbally abused by an online friend, and her parents' reaction to finding out said "friend" was the fictitious creation of some adult neighbors.
I posted this to reddit as part of my ongoing crusade to make the typical privileged Internet crowd think about things outside their immediate interests, and it's been interesting to read the reactions there. Most of them are identical to the reactions everywhere else - this is horrible, the perpetrators of the hoax are awful people, why would someone be so mean - but there's a contingent (tangential to the 4chan/SomethingAwful/Encyclopedia Dramatica crowd, I'm assuming) that's basically casting about for someone else, anyone else, to blame. The parents (by which, of course, they mean the mother) is to blame for letting her daughter onto MySpace (even with supervision), and for leaving her alone for a whole twenty minutes. The victim is to blame for being too thin-skinned to handle discovering that the boy who said he liked her was lying about everything. But the neighbors themselves? Not their fault. Because if it were, then they might have to look at their own actions and the harm they cause. Someone suggested that the "anon" crowd is different because they go after the "guilty" - they don't. They go after the easy targets. Sure, one of the ways to become an easy target is to be so reprehensible that nobody will defend you, but it's not the only way or even the most common.
This sort of thing is bullying, and there is no excuse for it. If your "fun" involves being cruel and hurtful to other people, find a new fun.
1 year ago