John Welch, my Angry Mac Bastards cohort, does a fine job of deconstructing Anil Dash’s latest pile of drivel regarding cyberbullying. John covers most of the points that I would have made, albeit with less use of the phrase “ignominious snot-muffin” than I would have, but there is one point that he didn’t expand on as much as I think is needed.
In his pavlovian rush to defend all things “social media,” Anil misses one huge way in which “cyberbullying” is far worse than the good old fashioned Bullying 1.0 that we all grew up knowing and loathing. This is both ironic and utterly expected given that the thing that I’m talking about is the engine that drives Anil’s precious social media. Specifically I’m referring to the amplification effect that social media provides.
Back in the good old days, a bully could ruin a victim’s reputation at, at most, the municipal level. Even that required a campaign of such monumental effort that it rarely happened. Now, however, with the click of a button I can set up a blog, Facebook page, Flickr group and forum all dedicated to, say, promoting the idea that Anil Dash molests emus. The twisted beauty of this is, given human nature, I could have thousands of people anonymously attacking Anil within days.
Of course, I would never do that. Just like I would never use accusations of racism to dismiss criticism of my posts.