Boyd and Ronson

Boyd says that teens don’t always think that what parents think of bullying is bullying. They saw gossip and rumors differently than bullying. “Unlike bullying, which presumes a victim and a perpetrator, referring to conflict as drama allows teens to distance themselves from any emotional costs associated with what’s happening” (Boyd, 138).


Is online shaming bullying? Maybe. We like to think of bullying as the big kid punching the little kid, using his power to hurt or harm the little guy. In cyber bullying, it’s not the physical size of the bully compared to the victim, but the power of the internet, which is near infinite. You can’t be punched online, but you can be hurt in other ways. It’s the difference between being punched in the gut every day, or being punched in the gut so hard that it hurts everyday, the latter being the power of the internet.


The shaming that Ronson talks about is comparable to this. It’s meant to hurt people, and even if the shaming is only one instance, like the day Sacco sent her tweet, it leaves a lasting impact.

The comparison I’m trying to make, then, is that people see partaking in online shaming, not as bullying, but as something else. Do they see it as drama? Gossip? Rumors?


In my experience, it’s drama. I’ve never personally tweeted at someone and called them an idiot or any other bad name in order to hurt them, but I have talked about it. I’ve said “wow, how can he have said that?” just like I was talking about the news. “I can’t believe that happened. That’s terrible”. In my mind, it’s commenting on an event, not sending a message to the person. It’s the same with spreading rumors or discussing drama–it’s different than insulting the victim to their face. (Although I still think that spreading rumors is morally wrong).


Boyd says that parents define all of that as bullying, but teens make the distinction in order to excuse their actions. Is there a similar distinction online? Is contributing to a hashtag or subtweeting someone the same as insulting them directly, or is there an actual difference? And are the people who thinks there is a difference just making excuses?
I personally find myself defending more people online than criticising people. I’ve learned over time that context is especially important online and not to take headlines and trending hashtags at face value. I’ve learned to be critical of actions, not people. Sacco isn’t a racist, but her tweet was a bad idea. Donald Trump isn’t an idiot, but he’s being hypocritical in bombing Syria. Things like that.


Author: Devon I

UD student, Junior English major.

4 thoughts on “Boyd and Ronson”

  1. Devon, your post was really insightful. From your first paragraph to your last, you bring up a lot of good points. I especially appreciate how you discuss not to take things online at face value. There’s more than one side to every story and the internet and social media do not show that. Since we all make mistakes, it’s important to look at public shaming situations with an open mind and not hide behind a computer partaking in the negativity of it.


  2. I think it’s interesting that you talk about how the intent of shaming is to hurt other people. While I do feel like this is sometimes the case, I feel as though a lot of times, those doing the shaming are not thinking about the harm that they are inflicting on other people. Instead, I feel like a lot times people shame others on the internet because they are seeking to call out what they feel is an injustice, or they are making themselves feel better by pointing out flaws in others. I’m certain that some people seek to hurt others through shaming, but I’m not sure it’s always the leading cause.


  3. Devon-I think you capture what it feels like to be shamed online really well here. Using the internet to shame really does amplifies embarrassment in a way that is worse than physical bullying in the long-term. I like how you approach the assignment here; the questions you posed made me think. I don’t really think of online shaming as bullying either; it’s more like a Grecian arena with spotlights on the shamee in the center.


  4. You’ve written a really strong and insightful piece. I also think that people incorrectly use the word drama for things that occur online. The ramifications of an online post can literally ruin lives so people try to lighten the situation by brushing it off and just calling it drama. However, I do agree with Sam when he says that people think they are addressing an injustice. Like I said in my post, people think they are doing something good and they think that the ends can justify the means but this should never be a case if someone is hurt by online activity. Moreover, a person should not be defined by a mistake because what matters is how they react after they realize they’ve made that mistake.


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