Gone are the days of the old-fashion bully.
Back when I was a kid, there were always overgrown dudes whose moms had fed them Lou Ferrigno-brand baby formula when they were young. Nowadays, though, everything is different. Centuries of traditional bullying has almost instantly been eclipsed by something far more sinister, something far more deflating when it comes to having faith in your fellow man and all that jazz.
Take Curt Schilling and his daughter, for example. Schilling, the former Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher, is a proud dad. But last week, after he used his Twitter account to post some rather routine congratulations to his daughter, Gabby, for being accepted to a certain college where she’ll play softball, something very unexpected and ugly happened.
A few fellow Twitter people took it upon themselves to immediately start posting some really graphic and horrific stuff. About Gabby. About Curt Schilling’s own daughter.
Now, maybe you’re alarmed and offended by the idea of what went down with the Schillings even before you hear too many of the details. That’s very cool. But, let’s be honest here. There’s also a very good chance that your initial reaction finds you wondering to yourself what this college-bound superstar’s kid might have done to deserve the cyber attacks, right? Well, if that’s you: let me stop you right there, my friend.
See, I’m an ultra-liberal, down-with-censorship kind of guy, trust me. I really am. Freedom of speech is great. C’mon, we all get that. Violence is terrible. Terrorism is the worst. But this everyday freedom to more or less attack the hell out of a fellow human on the internet, regardless of who they are or what it is that pisses you off about them — that’s some seriously dangerous territory we’ve gotten ourselves into. And the punishments rarely fit the crime. In fact, cyber-bullying has this odd ring to it, doesn’t it? We hear the term, but we don’t exactly think “crime.” Crime is rape. Crime is theft. Crime is something bad that has been around since the friggin’ Old Testament announced it as such.
We need to catch up with the times. We need to come down hard, hard, hard on the people in our world who roll down through their day hurting without remorse, without the fear of being caught … or even pursued.
Schilling went after the guys who began saying wildly-barbaric stuff about his daughter on Twitter. He tracked them down pretty quickly. These guys didn’t even try and remain anonymous — they just posted on their own Twitter accounts. And the story is still unfolding, but when I last checked, it sounded like some of the trolls (all college-aged males this time around) had been booted from school or lost their jobs. That’s a good thing. That’s what ought to happen. And then they ought have to talk to the cops, maybe head down to the local station or precinct where cowards who hide in their rooms and write cruel things about people they’ve never even met usually end up p*ssing their pants when faced with the idea of earthly repercussions.
Beyond Schilling and his daughter, there is a lot of this kind of crime going down these days. And it’s one thing when it happens to grown-ups. Most of us can take any kind of rude commenting we might be get hit with on Facebook or whatever. You let it go, maybe unfriend a jerk or two, and you move on. Yet with kids, everything is different. I don’t need to tell you that if you’re a parent. Or even if you’ve got an IQ greater than a termite.
Kids attacking kids online is a monumental problem. If you know of a child, especially your own child, who is dishing out hate in cyberspace, it’s up to you to save the f*cking world. I’m not messing around.
Being young is so hard. Do you remember any of that? Do you remember crying in your bedroom when someone broke up with you, or when you got cut from a team, or even when some bully in your homeroom was in your face so much that you couldn’t sleep at night and felt pukey all the time? Now imagine being cyber-bullied by a troll.
It’s just as bad and has the exact same impact as vicious varsity cheerleaders or violent senior linebackers or kids with meth in their backpacks.
Or maybe even the kids with guns in theirs.
It’s all so confusing. Modern parents: We’re up against some very strange dark forces, I guess. It’s tricky stuff. But at least we’re starting to see that this stuff is for real. Even if the solutions seem like ghosts in the night.More On