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. (https://blogs.worldbank.org/youthink/social-media-and-social-change-how-young-people-are-tapping-technology) 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


Author:

Daphne Holmes contributed this guest post. She is a writer from http://www.ArrestRecords.com and you can reach her at daphneholmes9@gmail.com

What If I Was Bigger Than a Bully

Author Cat Blount has released a book for elementary school age children titled “What If I Was Bigger Than a Bully: Storyteller Edition”. This book talks to both those who deal with being bullied as well as the bullies, parents, bystanders, and school officials.

The title references a question the boy in the book asks himself and shows him in his mind what possibilities this brings. He discovers something important during his exploration that changes his circumstances. The new version goes more into what the
bullied (the young boy, Jed) is thinking.  It also has a new character who is there to listen to and help Jed.  You can learn more about the book by clicking here.

Below is a video trailer about the book as well.

Make It Better Right Now

Before I introduce you to http://MakeItBetterRightNow.net (or MIBRN as we like to call ourselves) and some of its members, I would like to thank cropped-MIBRN-Logo3-300x120Alan for all he does in bringing attention to this epidemic around the world called “bullying”. He, like me, believes that by telling our stories; by discussing our issues openly without the fear of being bullied yet again, that we can begin the healing process. Again, Alan, on behalf of the MIBRN community, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Kevin Carey-Infante

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kevin Carey-Infante. I am an author, blogger, teen advocate and creator/administrator of a newly created alternative social media website for teens called http://MakeItBetterRightNow.net. MIBRN is a website created by teens for teens. It’s a safe and secure place for teens to come to get support, as well as learn about issues that matter to them. It’s also a place where teens can come to talk with each other and tell their stories in real-time, without being judged, ridiculed or bullied. MIBRN uses various methods of communication, including messaging, email, open forums, bulletin boards, and a “chat” feature that allows teens from around the world to communicate with each other in real-time. In less than a year, MIBRN has grown into a social media website for all teens – black, white, yellow, red, gay, straight, bisexual, transgendered, the victims of bullying and abuse, and, yes, even the bullies themselves. As long as everyone shows respect for each other and their diverse points of view, everyone is welcome at MIBRN.

MIBRN was born out of the many tragic deaths from teen bullycide (teens who commit suicide because they felt that they could no longer deal with the relentless bullying they were being forced to live with.) Tyler Clementi, Cassidy Joy Andel and Justin Aaberg are just a handful of those souls. One of the features on the MIBRN site is the Honor Roll of Victims of Bullycide. We regularly add a teen who has taken his or her life and tell their story in the hope that we can learn from them and not repeat their actions. MIBRN is committed to ending bullycide in our time.

The MIBRN community also invites those adults who have been there to tell their stories. There is nothing more inspiring to a teen than to hear from those who have been in their shoes and made it to live another day – to hear how they made it better in their lives.

When I told the members of the MIBRN community that Alan had invited me to write a guest blog about MIBRN they asked if they could submit comments for you to read. “This is our site, after all,” Danny told me. I was, of course, more than thrilled that they were eager to participate. Over the past couple of weeks, I have received many comments. Here are but a handful. I present each MIBRN community member by their “Username“. This way, if you would like, when you visit MIBRN, you can reach out to these very special individuals, say hi, and start a conversation.

MigueldeCuba: Hi! My name is Mike. I’m 15-years old and I live in New Jersey. I found MIBRN one day this summer when I was fooling around on my iPad looking for people like me. I get bullied all the time because I don’t fit in. My mom is Cuban and my dad is Irish. Kids call me a zebra and I hate it. The other thing about me is that I am short, so kids think I’m weak. I’m not. I’m pretty strong and I play soccer, and I’m pretty good. I was super lucky to find MIBRN. I have made lots of new friends and Mr. Kevin has helped me a lot. Now I am paying it forward. I met a girl from Canada on the MIBRN chat line. She was really scared in the beginning. I talk to her a lot and now she’s my friend. She’s doing better. My dream is to help Mr. Kevin to make it better for all kids. Mr. Kevin has taught me to want to make a difference. I hope to talk to you soon. Thank you for this time to talk to you.  Mike

cookme25: Hi everyone. My name is Hannah. I’m 16-years old and I live in Kentucky. About 2 months ago I wrote this on my MIBRN profile and I really do believe it:

Everything happens for a reason. You may not see it right away but you will. It may be years from now but it will happen. You’ll look back and you’ll see that if that one thing hadn’t happened then everything would have turned out different. You might not have met a person you love or you might not have become the person you are. So just remember, even if it seems like the end of the world, be patient. Everything happens for a reason.

MIBRN is a great place for teens to come together and know they aren’t alone. We all have similar experiences or maybe you find someone who understands what it’s like to be you. It shows you aren’t alone. Hope to meet you soon.  Hannah

Sander1998: Hi. My name is Sander. I’m 14-years old and I live in the Netherlands. I found MIBRN when I was doing research on bullycide. This is the best site I found honoring kids who committed bullycide. I really like this site and believe that it can help lots of kids. I hope that it can help you too. Talk to you soon.  Sander

KatieRoo: Hey everybody. My name is Katie. I’m 16-years old and I live in Ohio.  MIBRN is basically a site where you can come and talk to people who have felt/experienced the same things you have. You are not alone in this world. I have seen a great change in myself in just a few months. There are people out there who are going through the same mess as you. Just remember – you first have to climb the mountain before you can see the beauty. I wrote this on my Message Board last week because I thought it was very important:

Your words/your thoughts ARE powerful/ARE meaningful. If no one listens then speak up until your voice is heard. Be brave in yourself – stand up for yourself for if you don’t believe in your words then who will?

How about just starting a convo with me!… I would love, love, love to just talk! Ok c ya!  Katie

DannyL: Hi everyone. My name is Danny and I’m 14-years old. I’m in the 9th grade and I live in San Antonio, TX. To be honest, my uncle is Mr. Kevin’s husband. But even if that were not true I would still love this site. I’m gay and I came out to my mother and my friends at the end of the last school year. I get bullied all the time for being me, but I am learning how to deal with it. I have made lots of friends at MIBRN and they help me a lot. We talk all the time. When I have a question or a problem I can’t answer I will ask Mr. Kevin for his advice because he had many problems and was bullied when he was a kid like me. Mr. Kevin is the best! I think – no – I know – this site will help a lot of kids no matter what they are going thru. I hope to meet you soon.  Danny

I couldn’t have said it better gang. Thank you! On behalf of the MIBRN community I would like to invite you all to come over and check us out. Here’s the link:

http://MakeItBetterRightNow.net

IT’S YOUR PLANET…MAKE IT BETTER RIGHT NOW


Thank you, Kevin, and all at MIBRN for doing what you do in the battle against bullying. ~Alan Eisenberg

Thank You (A Personal Story)

Rachel sent me her story below with the title “Thank You”. A few months ago, I shared my writing called “I’m Sorry”. Thank you seems so much more powerful than even saying I’m sorry. Rachel finds a way to thank her bullies to help her conquer other things about herself. What a confident and positive way to handle that. I think saying thank you and finding a way to win against bullies is a very positive way to think and Rachel helps us learn this lesson through her words below. ~Alan Eisenberg


From grades kindergarten to my sophomore year of high school I was categorized by some of my classmates, and a few of my teachers, as being the class target-the one others taunted on a daily basis.  If someone had told me at that time that I would be writing a thank you letter to these same people, twenty years later, I would not have believed them.

However, as I sit here reminiscing about that difficult time in my life, I have begun to see how God had used this situation to begin molding me into the person he needed me to be.

Below is how God used the same attributes my classmates used to taunt me with to help me become the self-assured positive person that I am today.

Shyness-  My shyness was so severe, and had made me such an introvert, that when ever I tried to speak up for myself, during a confrontation or speaking with someone one on one, the only words that would come out would do so in the form of stutter.

To my classmates; Thank you for using my shyness as a way to put a bull’s eye on my head.  Because, unknowingly, you helped me to take the time to think about what I was about to say before I said it.

Clothes; I have always enjoyed dressing in retro clothes more than purchasing things off the rack so that I would fit in.  Even today I shop at second-hand stores more than I do Department Stores.

To my classmates; Thank you for bringing attention to my style of dressing.  Although you meant to use it as a way of embarrassing me, God help me to use it as a way of being myself.

Hair; I always have enjoyed wearing my hair naturally even when some took it to me that I was unkempt or non hygienic.  I simply did not want to keep putting harmful chemicals in my hair over and over again.

To the class; Thank you for noticing my choice of hair styles.  Although you seen it as one more thing to pick at me about, I could see how my choice to be an individual helped others to do the same.

Intelligence; Whenever I would answer a question correctly, I would hear “Teacher’s Pet!” “Teacher’s Pet!”  To some this may not feel like a bad named to be called.  However, when you hear it over and over again on a daily basis it can be seen as a negative word.

To my classmates:  Thank you for constantly calling me teacher’s pet because of this I learned to ignore the name that I am being called and instead focus on who I know I am.

I did not write this letter for anyone else except myself.  No copies were sent off by snail mail, email, text, or any other form of communication.  Writing this letter helped me to finally discover that who I am is fine and the only person that I can be is me.

~Rachel S.

Bullying and Learning Differences

I’ve been introduced to a new term by the “Friends of Quinn” organization. The term is “Learning Differences” instead of learning disabilities. We all know that people with learning differences are targeted by bullies often. This group has taken the cause of those with learning differences to try to make a difference themselves, particularly in the area of bullying.

You can learn more about this organization and their cause at http://www.friendsofquinn.com/. Their organization offers help and tips for people dealing with these learning differences and also in the area of handling bullying.

Anyplace Other Than Here (A Personal Story)

I remember well begging my parents to move when the bullying was so bad for me. I would say I could go anywhere but here, anywhere where people wouldn’t know me and know what happened to me. I remember the feeling of real pain as someone physically attacked me. As I read Stacy’s story below, all of this came flooding back as she tells her own painful tale of bullying that happened to her. ~Alan Eisenberg


Hi my name is Stacy I’m now 25 years old. My bullying started when I was very young. I was in first grade and had switched schools. I went from a teacher who adored me (actually asked my grandparents who had custody of me if she could adopt me) to a teacher who didn’t like me simply because she didn’t like the idea of grandparents raising children. Mrs. C as we’ll call her was horrible to me. She encouraged my classmates to bully me. She herself bullied me. She told me that I smelled bad and made fun of my hair and clothes. She would take me in front of the class and publicly humiliate me. She pinched me and pulled my hair. I was left-handed and anytime she caught me writing with my left hand she’d rip the pencil out of my hand smack my hand call me “Satan’s Child” and put the pencil in my right hand and squeeze it and force me to write with it. The other children participated in her cruelty. They would repeat things she said. When it came time to play games as a team or at recess nobody wanted me to play with them (or near them). During games where we were to hold hands nobody would hold my hand. It was horrible. I had no friends nobody to talk to and I didn’t think my parent’s would believe me so I retreated into myself. I didn’t talk to anyone and when free time came I’d sit alone at my desk and draw pictures of my own made up super heroes that I wished would come and take me away from it.

As I got older school didn’t get any easier. Even though I begged and pleaded with my parents to allow me to go to a different school I was stuck with these same kids year after year until 5th grade that tortured me. In second grade a boy pushed me off of the jungle gym which knocked out two of my teeth. In third grade these group of girls harassed me to the point that I broke down crying and was carried into the counselor’s office (later me and one of the girls became good friends). Also in third grade I was physically assaulted by Mrs. L. A friend of mine had gotten a pink slip and i was going to go with her to the office. Casey told on me to Mrs. L. Mrs.L came out grabbed me by my bad wrist squeezed and twisted it and slammed me against the brick wall. By lunch time I had a hand print bruise around my wrist and a bruise across my shoulders all because I was going to go to the office. In fourth grade I was already near suicidal and looked for excuses to stay home cause I was so tired of putting up with the bullying. We stayed two weeks into the fifth grade before we relocated this time it was out-of-state.

In a way the thought of relocating was exciting and looked like a fresh new start. But in a way I was scared that it would be just like my last school. I was determined to make friends. Well we ended up moving to Arkansas from Ohio. We moved to a little town and I knew from day one that I just didn’t belong. I got a really nice teacher Mrs.S. She asked me to introduce myself in front of the class. At recess I had a few kids come up to me and introduce themselves. But the group of girls I originally met were teasing another few girls and when I refused to join in I was out cast yet again. I once again found myself in a situation where I was bullied all because I wouldn’t bully other kids. But I never knew how horrible bullying could be until I crossed paths with Kevin.

I met Kevin in sixth grade. He put a small baggy in the teacher’s bookcase that contained marijuana and a porn magazine on her desk. Our teacher came in saw the magazine and went and got the principal. He came in and threatened if no one spoke up that we’d all get detention and swats (In Arkansas they still give swats). He had us write down on a piece of paper if we would tell him what happened I wrote that I would. The next class I sat beside Kevin our principal called over the load speaker: Mrs. R I need to speak with Stacy (don’t want to put my last name). Kevin looked over at me and said “I’m going to f***ing kill you.” Kevin didn’t get in much trouble but he made sure that he made the next 5 years of my life hell. He tortured me. If he caught me between classes he’d punch me or throw me into the lockers he called me “rat” “slut” “skank” “nerd” “freak” told me that he was going to rape me and kill me. Once on my way to my 7th period class I was going down the stairs and I heard him say “Hey guys watch this” to some of his buddies then he swung his bag at my feet and I tumbled down the stairs. On my way down I tried to stop myself by grabbing the railing. BIG MISTAKE. I tore all the muscles in my shoulder and dislocated it and had to have surgery. I told but nothing happened. You see Kevin was our Superintendent Mr. T’s nephew so Kevin didn’t get in trouble. That is until he crossed the line.

One day during lunch I had Ensemble practice. I went to my locker to get my folder (which was in the basement of the school) Kevin and his buddies had spit all over my locker. I backed up and said “EWWW” then he came behind me and grabbed me. He put a knife to my throat and said “Rat’s die horrible deaths. You know Stacy I could kill you right now. But I think I’m going to wait. I want to kill you and your Preppy Jock Brother at the same time. I have a gun I can’t wait to see you dead….” a fellow ensemble member came down the stairs to see what was taking me so long. When they heard her coming they slammed me against the lockers and took off. I immediately went to the principal’s office. I told Mr. B what happened. He told me to “wait here” then he came back with the Dean and Mr. T. Mr. T told me that I was making something out of nothing that Kevin did no such thing. He told me that he checked and Kevin didn’t have a knife on him. I insisted that I saw the blade and felt it against my neck. He told me that I was imagining things and told me that I was not allowed to tell my parents. He told me that if I told my parents that I would get in trouble for insubordination.

I cried all the way home. I was scared. I believed Kevin when he said that he would kill me and my older brother. The next morning I cried and pleaded for me and my brother to stay home. My parents refused and demanded to know what was going on. It took a while but reluctantly I told them what had happened and the warning from Mr. T. My father was furious. He had my brother stay home with mom and took me up to the school. You see Kevin had turned 18 that year I however was only 16 meaning by law Kevin was an adult I was still a minor. My father demanded something be done about Kevin. He said “You are going to expel him or my daughter and I will be on the evening news tonight and Kevin will be arrested and charged for terroristic threatening and assault on a minor.” Kevin’s uncle gave him the option of quitting as opposed to being expelled. Kevin quit. I was never so relieved. However I became the object of his friend’s hatred for getting Kevin in trouble. The rest of my Junior year went badly.

The summer after my Junior year we relocated back to Ohio. I begged my dad “Any town in the state of Ohio except W ANY school except WR PLEASE!” Where did we move to? W. Where did I end up finishing school? WR. I was NOT happy. Dad said “It’s a good school I want you to graduate from there.” And sure enough same kids same treatment as before. I hated my entire senior class. I didn’t have 1 friend. Then everyone wonders why I have no intention of attending either school reunion Ohio or Arkansas. No thank you I’ve had enough for one lifetime. I have nothing to say to any of those people. It took me years to get to where I could get over everything and I have no intention of stirring up old emotions. Thank you.

~Stacy

The Crumpled Piece of Paper

My friend, Jon, on Facebook sent me this picture, and writing which I had to share here. It is an amazing lesson for a teacher to teach on bullying. I’m not sure who the author is, so I can’t give credit, but would like to find out who created it. Anyone know?