Dalrian Richards Staff Writer
Sometimes, there are these rare moments when you start to think that society is improving. Gender equality has rapidly increased in the Western world, gay rights are being accepted in more and more countries, and any form of discrimination is harshly looked down upon. But once in a while… there are these moments when you start to wonder where the world is going…
Take for example the events around an Ohio high school. Last Monday, two teenage girls were arrested for threatening the life of a 16 year old girl, a girl who had been raped. Apparently, the two teenagers felt that they should make things a bit worse by hiding behind a Facebook account and terrorising the victim a bit more.
As I look around, in newspaper, social media and television, I notice that this is not so uncommon anymore. Online threats are becoming something “normal”, as if people have discovered that it is actually very enjoyable to hide behind an alias and to terrorise people they don’t know. The fact that it is a cowardice act doesn’t seem to matter to them.
And now, cyber-threats have reached the point where even an innocent writer for a fansite is no longer safe, when today, one of our colleagues here at PopWrapped received death threats to both herself and her infant son. And why? Because she had an opinion.
And that’s just it. Opinions are no longer tolerated, no matter how well built the arguments are or how respectful the post is written. In the past few weeks, we have seen two celebrities stand up against their cyber-bullies by finding their identity, but it isn’t enough, as even a non-celebrity is no longer able to make a simple, innocent comment about a famous musician without being threatened by hundreds of crazed fans.
Perhaps it would be too easy to blame fandoms, but the fact remains: cyber-threats are a horrible thing. Reporting those people to the police hardly ever works because these people are usually anonymous, or they live in another country, under completely different rules. Cyber-threats aren’t being taken seriously, and victims are just told to harden up.
But this is wrong, because such things should never become acceptable. We live in a society where equality and respect for each other is being emphasised time and time again, while at the same time, crazed fans reign the social media and you are more likely to run into a cyber-bully than an actual reasonable, mature person on the internet.
Am I really supposed to tell my grandparents that the internet is a good thing? Do you really believe that if we keep heading this way, everything will be fine in the end? Cowards have existed through the ages, but never before have they been so powerful, with their anonymous usernames and their horrifying behaviour.
So, here is my message to you:
We have now reached a point where people’s opinions are no longer safe from death threats. Where being a writer has become a dangerous job. Where cowards rule the internet. Let’s do something about it.
Cyber-threats have to be taken seriously, and they need to come to our attention. We need to get these issues out into the open, and they need to be discussed by media and government. Only then can decent laws be made to make sure that this behaviour can be put to a stop. And only us, as internet users, can contribute to that.
So, if you ever receive anonymous death threats yourself, please, report them to the police. Make sure they take these issues seriously. Try to convince your favourite celebrity that something has to be done, because no doubt your idols have suffered from these death threats as well. Don’t let the bullies win. They don’t deserve it.
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