Behind the Screen Bullies

Ronson and boyd dissect the same subject, but they take different approaches of doing so. They both focus on how technology affects and enhances the publicity of negatively treating others. Ronson discusses shaming and boyd discusses bullying. Bullying is a stepping stone on the way to shaming. As we discussed in class, bullying tends to be a more “private” form of harassment usually done by one specific person. Shaming is harassment done in a very public forum, and can be done by anyone with access to the situation – whether they know the person being shamed or not.

Ronson and boyd both explain how technology plays a major role in shaming and bullying. Shaming and bullying have been around for ages, as Ronson proves with a brief history anecdote, but are now becoming more public in a different light due to technology. The internet and social media have created numerous ways for shamers and bullies to harass people, and for others to join in on the bashing. Ronson highlights online shaming done to adults, but boyd proves online bullying happens with teens as well.
It is interesting to think about how technology has affected this issue – from the publicity of it to the amount of people participating in it. When I think about stories such as Justine Sacco’s, I wonder why so many people felt it was their job to publicly shame and harass her. Of course she tweeted an insensitive comment, but the lengths that people behind their screens went to to punish her is concerning. We all make mistakes, even though they may not be that public or extreme, so when did we decide to publicly humiliate and shame one another for those mistakes to this degree? Online shaming and bullying has gone from more than just attacking the person for their mistake. It turns into attacking their character and values, and destroying their life piece by piece. Most of the people Ronson highlighted lost their jobs due to the amount of public shaming they received. While I do not condone the mistakes of the people boyd and Ronson highlight, I also do not think that the level of bullying and shaming (or any of it for that matter) people have taken up are okay either. It is a complex issue with lots of layers; but, I think that Ronson and boyd have both written interesting and entertaining books that peel away at those layers in order to help us understand the connections between bullying and shaming and technology.

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Author: Molly O'Neill

I am an Organizational and Community Leadership major and a Writing minor at the University of Delaware. I am also a dedicated member of the DE Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi and the UD Equestrian Team.

3 thoughts on “Behind the Screen Bullies”

  1. I agree with you. I think that shaming tends to be more anonymous, especially if it is done online. Typically, other instances of cyber bullying usually come from somebody that the victim knows. In addition, I think it’s interesting that you mention that bullying can be a stepping stone for shaming. Whether or not shaming is in fact a type of bullying, I think the argument remains that whether someone is bullying someone else or shaming someone else, they tend not to think about the devastating affects that their actions have on the other person.

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  2. I agree with all the points you made here and I also think this all stems from our lack of human compassion due to social media. Boyd is right when she says that when it all comes down to it, it is the people that are bullying and shaming and the device or social media is simply their medium for it. I do feel that shaming and bullying are separate but can be intertwined in the sense that if you are shaming someone you are also bullying them regardless of whatever mistake they have made because like you said, everyone makes mistakes.

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  3. Bullying really IS a more private embarrassment, especially today with all the technology we have at our disposal. I hadn’t really thought about how Ronson only focuses on adults in his book. Since you mentioned it, I feel like teen shaming is so much worse because they’re less mature and more hormonal…so it must be meaner. I think you bring up a really good point about why people shame. It is a strange reality that so many take it into their own hands to correct a stranger’s mistake.

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