Impact of Social Media on Civil Agitation

It’s no exaggeration to say that the social media revolution has impacted millions of people all over the world, changing lives and even altering the course of history. Social media have changed the way individuals, organizations, and governments interact. They have fostered a new openness and transparency, and have made it easier for advocacy and activist groups to organize for change. Just in the past few years, social media have been credited with…

• overthrowing totalitarian regimes during the Arab Spring
• spotlighting social and economic injustice via the Occupy movements (which began on Wall Street and spread all over the world)
• exposing one of the worst dictators in modern history, the African cult/militia leader and indicted war criminal Joseph Kony, through KONY2012
Social media have also been used to rapidly spread news and updates during natural disasters, such as earthquakes and catastrophic storms, as well as to organize disaster relief.

A global survey taken last year by the think tank Havas Worldwide found that 70% of young people believe that social media is a strong force for change. ( And millennials aren’t the only ones who have embraced social media; Gen-X’ers, baby boomers and their elders have also taken to Facebook, Twitter and other social media in a big way – not just for socializing, but also for political participation and working to create social change.

There’s no denying that social media have been a disruptive force and an instrument for civil agitation. They have turned our lives upside down and inside out, reshaping the way we think about the world and about ourselves. That’s very often a good thing, but sometimes it isn’t so good.

The dark side
Social media’s popularity is a two-edged sword, and social media have been abused in ways that painfully remind us that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite this wonderful new tool we have at our disposal, humans are still… well, human, and there is a dark side to human nature, which social media sometimes bring out in disturbing ways. Social media have been used not only as tools to build community, but also as weapons to tear down: to stalk, harass, threaten and bully.

The Internet itself has been blamed for the decline in civility over the past couple of decades, as it has provided a means of anonymous bullying and threatening behavior. However, in recent years social media have provided even more efficient methods for cyberstalking, cyberthreatening, and cyberbullying.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between agitating and antagonizing. We all know people who like to stir the pot just for the fun of it, intending no harm. But we also know those who habitually carry it too far, becoming antagonists rather than mere agitators.

Sometimes people simply get caught up in passionate disagreements that escalate into fights. In many of those cases, the worst that happens is that one or both parties to the disagreement get banned from the forum in question, again, with no real harm done.

But sometimes antagonizing takes a dark turn, and social media sites in particular are uniquely structured to make it easy for ill-willed individuals to target others. We’ve all seen the tragic stories of young people who were bullied, harassed, and humiliated online, to the point that they took their own lives. Countless others have sustained deep emotional wounds that take years to heal. This isn’t mere “agitation,” and it is anything but civil.

A force for good
The good news is that social media can also be used to reverse the damage done by abusers. Social media sites, online communities, and blogs can be wonderful resources to help the wounded find their way to healing.

In spite of the down sides, social media remain, as social media and brand strategist Kim Garst wrote in a May 2013 HuffPost piece, “the greatest tool ever invented to mobilize resources in times of need and…a catalyst to galvanize seemingly unrelated people behind a common cause or issue.” What we can do – as individuals and as members of groups trying to create change – is make a pledge to always use social media as a force for good, to help build each other up rather than tear each other down. We can disrupt without destroying; we can agitate without antagonizing.

After all, we’re all in this together.


Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from and you can reach her at

15 Years Ago Today – Columbine

This is a reboot of a post written some years ago here. I happen to be sitting in Colorado today a beautiful state with a few scars, unfortunately. ~Alan 4/20/14

There is a famous quote by George Santayana, who, in his writing called “Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1″, wrote

 “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

This lesson is one of the reasons why we must continue to honor the anniversary of tragedies. Recently, on April 12th, Jews from around the world honored Yom Hashoah or Holocaust Rememberance Day. This quote is used often to recall the Holocaust and try to help ensure that an event like that doesn’t happen again.

Today, on April 20th, eerily close to Holocaust Rememberance Day, we honor those 15 children and adults who lost their lives at the tragic Columbine High School Shooting in Littleton, Colorado 15 years ago.

We should remember this day, because in many ways it has been the catalyst to the increased focus on the issues of bullying at schools. While many things have changed in the 15 years since two boys went in to the school with weapons, there is still much to be done. Yes, there is still a debate about how much bullying played into what happened in Columbine. But many of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s writings indicated that they were ostracized and bullied at school. But, their actions will never justify that.

What we should focus on is helping adults and school administrators to notice indications of problems and try to help stop them before they escalate. I am happy to say that I do believe we have focused more on training adults and schools to work on these issues in the past 15 years.

But for today, please take a moment to remember what happened in Columbine and tell the story again, so we never forget these lives and the lessons learned.

Victims of Columbine

Victims of Columbine

Music Lyrics #18 – Invisible (Hunter Hayes)

Hunter Hayes, a modern and young country chart singer, debut his new song, “Invisible” on the 2014 Grammy Show some weeks ago. It truly shows how today’s society has brought the bullying problem to the forefront of our conscious and news. Now the great question is, what do we do about it? I have some ideas that I hope to share with you this year. In the meantime, I hope you will listen to and read the lyrics to Hunter’s perfect song on the issue.

Crowded Hallways are the loneliest places for outcasts and rebels
Or anyone who just dares to be different
And you’ve been trying for so long to find out where your place is
But in their narrow minds, there’s no room for anyone who dares to do something different
Oh, but listen for a minute

Trust the one who’s been where you are wishing all it was sticks and stones
Those words cut deep but they don’t mean you’re all alone
You’re not invisible
Hear me out, there’s so much more to life than what you’re feeling now
Someday you’ll look back on all these days and all this pain is gonna be… Invisible
Oh, invisible

So your confidence is quiet
To them quiet looks like weakness but you don’t have to fight it
Cause you’re strong enough to win without the war
Every heart has a rhythm, let yours beat out so loudly
That everyone can hear it, yeah, promise you don’t need to hide it anymore
Oh, and never be afraid of doing something different
Dare to be something more

Trust the one who’s been where you are wishing all it was sticks and stones
Those words cut deep but they don’t mean you’re all alone
You’re not invisible
Hear me out, there’s so much more to life than what you’re feeling now
Someday you’ll look back on all these days and all this pain is gonna be… Invisible
Oh, invisible

These labels that they give you just ’cause they don’t understand
If you look past this moment, you’ll see you’ve got a friend
Waving a flag, for who you are, and all you’re gonna do
Yeah, so here’s to you and here’s to anyone who’s ever felt invisible

You’re not invisible
Hear me out, there’s so much more to life than what you’re feeling now
Yeah, someday you’ll look back on all these days and all this pain is gonna be… Invisible
It’ll be invisible

Music Lyrics #17 – Don’t Give Up (Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush)

There are some special songs that only come around once in a lifetime. I have been honored to see Peter Gabriel in concert. I never had the honor to see the incomparable Kate Bush. But, honestly, if there is one song that should make you realize that you are loved, that you can conquer life, that you should never give up, it is this one. “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel is an amazing piece. And it is an amazing and simple video that is just beautiful. I hope you find comfort in the lyrics as I have.

in this proud land we grew up strong
we were wanted all along
I was taught to fight, taught to win
I never thought I could fail

no fight left or so it seems
I am a man whose dreams have all deserted
I’ve changed my face, I’ve changed my name
but no one wants you when you lose

don’t give up
‘cos you have friends
don’t give up
you’re not beaten yet
don’t give up
I know you can make it good

though I saw it all around
never thought I could be affected
thought that we’d be the last to go
it is so strange the way things turn

drove the night toward my home
the place that I was born, on the lakeside
as daylight broke, I saw the earth
the trees had burned down to the ground

don’t give up
you still have us
don’t give up
we don’t need much of anything
don’t give up
’cause somewhere there’s a place
where we belong

rest your head
you worry too much
it’s going to be alright
when times get rough
you can fall back on us
don’t give up
please don’t give up

‘got to walk out of here
I can’t take anymore
going to stand on that bridge
keep my eyes down below
whatever may come
and whatever may go
that river’s flowing
that river’s flowing

moved on to another town
tried hard to settle down
for every job, so many men
so many men no-one needs

don’t give up
’cause you have friends
don’t give up
you’re not the only one
don’t give up
no reason to be ashamed
don’t give up
you still have us
don’t give up now
we’re proud of who you are
don’t give up
you know it’s never been easy
don’t give up
’cause I believe there’s a place
there’s a place where we belong

Civil Disobedience – Breaking the law (A Personal Story)

I received this wonderful story from Vivi from the band Mental Monky Ballet from Sweden. It shows how we have to think hard about how far we have to go to deal with bullying issues. Thanks to Vivi for the submission. ~ Alan

Civil Disobedience – Breaking the law

Would you ever stand up in a group of people and say; I know we have rules, but they don’t seem to work. Maybe they work for you and some other people, but not for me and these other guys here.

How far are you prepared to go to make the rules work better? Would you risk losing friends, losing benefits, losing your job or even get hurt physically?

ViviMy name is Vivi and I’m the songwriter and lead vocalist of the Swedish alternative/rock/pop band Mental Monky Ballet. When I wrote our song “Breaking The Law” from our most recent EP of the same name in November last year, despite what it might sound like, I didn’t feel like a rebel at all. I just felt fresh air in my lungs. We breathe in and out and the air changes every time. Nothing is ever the same the next moment, and the question is: in what way do we want this change to happen?

To me, the song title refers to a form of civil disobedience, but maybe not as much as the one that most of us are thinking about when the expression is used.

Most of the time, I believe, we think of events performed in public and in front of the world media such as Ghandi’s non-violent, revolutionary civil disobedience in India a long time ago. A more recent example is Pussy Riot in Russia screaming out their message in a sacred church, maybe in an effort to make their message louder. One other perfect example is the civil rights movement in the USA showing incredible bravery against racial issues, just some decades ago. They were all making a strong statement towards their government which they thought were unjust.

This is what you read about when you Google civil disobedience.

What if we put exactly the same actions in a much smaller context, like a school for instance.

This is a true story and a beautiful example of fighting injustice against a stronger power.

The story took place in a school of very young kids, located in a suburb of Sweden’s second largest City called Göteborg (Gothenburg). As it often happens, one girl in one of the classes couldn’t play with the other children, simply because they wouldn’t let her. Why? Because she was a bit chubby and acted a bit different.

However, there was another little girl who wasn’t bullied, and she strongly felt that this was wrong. Ironically, she was equally chubby but had somehow gained some kind of status with the other kids. She deliberately and happily started to play with the bullied girl and she also, on several occasions, asked the others why they exclude her. Anna was the girl who stood up for her classmate, and now plays keys and guitar in our band. She was seven years old at the time, and this trait of hers still burns bright today.

This is a very common, and for some people quite insignificant story, and not really food for media. It’s something that would completely drown in the stream of horrible news of rape, shootings and incest.

Yet, these incidents, often taking place over a long period of time, could completely ruin a person’s whole life. We’re looking at years of panic attacks, self loathing, eating disorders and all kinds of psychological and physiological issues that often occur. Sometimes they are carefully hidden but still extremely painful, and sometimes they are out in the open needing all sorts of treatments, successful or not, not to mention the increased risk of suicide for teenagers and beyond.

For a kid, the class is the government, the schoolyard is the battlefield, and the corridor is the supreme court. Imagine what it means to have at least one person taking the risk standing up for you.

I believe there are innumerable amounts of heroes out there, visible or not. I also believe that we all should break the law or change the rules once in a while, when we feel that they don’t work anymore – in society as well as in the small group.


Learn more about Vivi’s band at


Giving New Meaning to the Word Beautiful

Laura sent me her story and is also trying to raise funds to share her new book on bullying. Many times I think the same thing. There are so many great stories yet to be told that can help so many. I hope Laura has the opportunity to share the rest of hers as she shares a story here with you. ~Alan Eisenberg

When I was a young girl the other kids made fun of me because I wore large hearing aids and had a large under bit. They called me names Flat Face, Stupid and Ugly Girl on a daily basic. This caused me to shy away from other kids.

In my teen years my body grew faster than the other girls making me once again the target of harassment. I was an over achiever in art which created jealousy which turned into bullying. This one boy spit on me as I was siting in my class getting ready for History. He would say sexual things to me and tell me how ugly I was. He burned my hand by slamming a very hot cheese pizza face down on my hand burning it. He once opened my car door and started punching me and scratched me over and over again, just because I ignored him. He talk about my body and how odd-looking it was.

I would go home and cry in my room never saying a word to mom and dad. I was ashamed and confused. My 17 years old mind could not understand what was taking place, Also a virgin at the time I was confused by the sexual remarks.

When I was in college I would replay events in my mind, it was like watching a movie, only it was the same movie over and over again. No matter how hard I tried I was unable to stop thinking about the events that took place. Do to the years of being told I was ugly, I believed it which made it hard to interact with boys and made me become extreme shy.

In 2005 I sign up for MySpace and that same boy from high school found me. He wrote me an email to say how sorry he was for treating the way he did. I excepted his apology and thought it might bring me closers. However he started to bullied me online and making fun of things I wrote or photos I had posted. He would writing me emails telling me how stupid I was. At this time I was 23, He started to contact old high school friends and telling them I was talking about them in a negative light, this of course never happened. He also hosted a party just to make fun of me and later posting images online from his event. I started getting hate e-mail from people I did not know. He started a full-blown hate campaign for me. Leaving me helpless.

The only good thing to happen was I heard from some old friend who did not understand why someone would say such hurtful things about me. This back fired on him because I was able to reconnect with old friend who knew the real me.However still during this time after college I fell into a full blow depression and having low self confident. I never lifted the house and it made it almost impossible to find work. This went on for two years.

I went on to have bully bosses and had to leave my last job because of it. Four other of my friends had to leave for the same reason. Unfortunately there is nothing in the law that says they can’t bully us. People need to understand that bullies grow up into bully bosses.

Just in 2011 I had to start going through therapy to work though all the harassment that had taken place over the years. I was suffering from flashbacks, sleep disorder, depression, anxiety, fear, sham, guilt, and trauma. I had to go through EMDR therapy to process these memories, reducing their lingering effects. This type of therapy has stop the events playing over and over again in my mind. Just this year I started going to yoga as another form of therapy.

These bullies had affected my self-confident, personal relationships and self-worth. Just this year I have sign up for Facebook. I know I will be dealing with the effect of these bullies the rest of my life. I hope now to share my story and my art in hope of spreading awareness and making a change. No little girl or boy should believe they are something there not, but as I stated before If something is repeated said to you we all start to believe it.

My Book Giving New Meaning To The Word Beautiful is inspired by my abuse and fighting back saying everyone beautiful regardless of you age, sex, race, size or disability. Don’t let anyone make you feel you are less than BEAUTIFUL.

My book will be self published and sold as an ebook.

book online and digital copy will be available.

Please click the link below to view my page. This book will not happen with out you support.

Thank You! and Best Laura Jones

Music Lyrics #15 – Jeremy (Pearl Jam)

In the very early 1990′s, the Grunge movement of music started. Most people saw it as the new hard rock. But the lyrics in the Grunge music, no matter how hard the beats were, always spoke to the truth of the youth at the time. When I first heard Jeremy, by Pearl Jam, on their first major album called 10, I knew it was about bullying and the awful results of what can happen. Listen between the hard rock beat and you’ll hear the pain of the lyrics. Now you can look up and read the true story that the song was written for. It is about a boy who walked into his school and killed himself in front of his bullies. Very powerful story, very powerful lyrics. We should all pay attention to this ongoing issue, even 23 years after the song came out. We have yet to solve the issue.

At home
Drawing pictures
Of mountain tops
With him on top
Lemon yellow sun
Arms raised in a V
Dead lay in pools of maroon below

Daddy didn’t give attention
To the fact that mommy didn’t care
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today

Clearly I remember
Pickin’ on the boy
Seemed a harmless little f&@k
But we unleashed a lion
Gnashed his teeth
And bit the recess lady’s breast

How could I forget
He hit me with a surprise left
My jaw left hurting
Dropped wide open
Just like the day
Like the day I heard

Daddy didn’t give affection
And the boy was something that mommy wouldn’t wear
King Jeremy the wicked
Ruled his world

Jeremy spoke in class today
Jeremy spoke in class today
Try to forget this…
Try to erase this…
From the blackboard.