Facebook is once again back in the news. The topic is about bullying that has taken place on Facebook. In one news story from Texas two girls bullied another girl until she committed suicide. According to the news reports the victim was bullied both online and at school. The ring leader a 14 year old girl posted on her Facebook page “ ikr I bullied Rebecca, and I don’t care.” This post led to the two girls being arrested. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/us/felony-charges-for-2-girls-in-suicide-of-bullied-12-year-old-rebecca-sedwick.html?_r=0
The second story is about Maria Kang. Maria Kang is a fitness blogger. She created a group called No Excuse Mamas. Through this group she tries to motivate woman to lose weight. Ms. Kang posted a picture of herself in skimpy work out gear and her three children saying what is your excuse? http://www.today.com/klgandhoda/hoda-whats-your-excuse-mom-i-dont-people-who-brag-8C11411206
The dichotomy that exists in these two stories is striking. At the core what these two stories have in common is both involve bulling behavior with very different results. The differences between the stories is in one story the bullies are young girls, and the second story is about the victim of the bullying. Both of these stories highlight the extremes to which a bully is treated in our society. In the story about the young girls, they face felony charges. In the second story the bullying victim is making headlines, and being asked on national talk shows. In one situation we punish for bullying, and in the second situation we reward bullying.
The problem in our society is the perception that a bully is found only in social systems that involve children and young adults. In adults the bullying is deemed acceptable for several reasons. One reason is that it is acceptable to use any means possible to get ahead in business, sports and in life. The second reason is adults are quick to say the 1st Amendment gives them the right to say anything. The debate on how much and how far the 1st Amendment allows people to say what they want is ongoing. As the debate continues the problem of bullying continues to plague our society.
In terms of our two news stories there is no doubt bullying occurred, however, the bullying involved was two different types. One type was cyber bullying. Cyber bullying includes sending hurtful or threatening e-mails or instant messages, spreading rumors or posting embarrassing photos of others. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cyberbullying The second type of bullying was a more aggressive form of behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly caused another person injury or discomfort.
There is not much debate about whether the two girls from Texas were bullying the girl, who committed suicide. There is not much debate because this form of bullying occurred with children and is recognizable.
The second news story is much more controversial because it involves an adult who is a victim of being bullied. She became famous over night. These are two very different outcomes from the same behavior. Some argue that Maria Kang was the bully. According to our definitions of bullying she was not a bully. She is definitely being bullied. Here are some comments from her public page. The names have been changed but the comments are real.
“So u had an eating disorder and you didn't eat junk and u run two businesses and you've discovered the cure for cancer. Good for you. More power to you. But if you can't see how asking people "what's your excuse?" could be considered arrogant and self promoting, then you're not very bright, are you? Unless it was to intentionally incite public anger for the sake of cheap publicity. Either way, you made a mistake. Best you look up the definition of humility.”
“ I wanna know what kind of mother poses dressed like a whore around her little kids. Shouldn't you be parenting?”
Last but not least, “you are a bitch”
Maria’s page is public. These posts were made by people in a public place. In many ways Maria Kang’s page is not that much different than a school. But, yet, there is no fear that the police will arrest them because bullying in adults has become acceptable behavior. At the same time we wonder why our children bully. The answer lies simply in our own behavior. Your children will mimic how their parents behave. The question becomes then who is really teaching the children to bully. We are, the adults. Not only do we show them how to bully, but we show them bullying behavior is rewarded.
In our world of social media with Facebook being the pinnacle of our 1th amendment rights .The question becomes has free speech been taken too far? I am sure our fore fathers who wrote the 1th amendment did not intend for it to be used as an EXCUSE to bully another person. We do have freedom of speech in this country. We need to use it more wisely.