This paper will examine the phenomenon of cyber bullying and focus on the differences of it from the conventional form. In order to do that, the analysis would first provide a brief definition of the problem and dwell on whether the society finds it an issue or not. Then the theory of social facts will be used to consider the findings of three studying regarded cyber bullying. Thus, the latter has been recognized as a social problem relatively not long ago. The concept of netiquette was developed to counter it. In addition to that, cyber bullying is different from physical bullying in the way the consequences of it are seen: victims rarely confide it. The bullies also do not see the immediate reaction of their victims. Finally, it is difficult to escape a virtual bully and the latter are often motivated by boredom.
It would not be a mistake to suggest that technology should be praised for contributing to the quality of life of the humanity. Indeed, if it had not been for it, people would have never been able to enjoy life in many of its manifestation. However, just like any other phenomenon, technological development has a backside as well. For example, environmentalists argue that due to the current practices the nature suffers much more that it used to prior to industrialization. There is another aspect that is often overlooked, namely the influence of technology on the way people interact with each other. This paper will try to answer question why cyber bullying is different from its conventional form.
Summary of the issue
Cyber bullying, as it can be easily understood from the very name, is a new kind of bullying that happens in the virtual world. It involves a victim, a single person or several, the bully, once again one individual or a group, as well as the bystanders. As a result, a user is sent various messages that are either threatening, causing defamation or simply untrue and have a negative impact on his or her social life, often causing significant psychological distress. The victim can either receive such disturbing messages privately or read them posted in social networks or other web sites.
It is rather obvious that for a considerable period of time the society was not able to form a particular position with regard to this phenomenon. On the one hand, it could not be recognized as a social issue since the rate of occurrence of it was relatively small as well as it was often explained by the lack of proper behavior of the people online which is something that can not be helped directly. On the other hand, there was a part of the population who argued that cyber bullying was as harmful as conventional bullying and, therefore, should be recognized as a treat to social stability. Keeping in mind that the world has just entered the digital age and many of the phenomena have not been examined properly, the lack of a unified position is quite natural.
Application of sociological theory
This paper will employ the theory of social facts that was developed by Durkheim to analyze the phenomenon in question and base its examination on the contemporary studies. To begin with, one should point out that cyber bullying is different from conventional bullying since it has been out of the scope of public scrutiny for a certain period of time. For example, it was only in 2002 in Alberta that a particular community recognized cyber bullying as a societal problem (Campbell, 2005, p. 4). This means than unlike the conventional form, the virtual form was treated as somewhat acceptable and thought to be relatively harmless.
One of the ways that were proposed to be introduced to tackle cyber bullying was the concept of netiquette (Campbell, 2005, p. 5). Indeed, the end of the previous century witnessed unprecedented growth in personal computers as well as the development of Internet technology. However, though there were many people who could access the virtual world, there was no generally accepted set of rules that would guide behavior of the people. As a result, due to this chaotic state many users were able to show the worst qualities of their characters. This fact makes it different from conventional bullying that often takes place in the environment that have a well defined code of conduct and specifically outlaw bullying.
A group of researchers was able to identify another characteristic of cyber bullying that makes it different from the conventional form: while the influence of bullies is often noticed by a parent, the impact of cyber bullies are rarely noticed by the parents and the children are reluctant to confide to them (Cassidy, Faucher & Jackson, 2005, p. 592). This means that a victim will live with a psychological burden, not being able to get any help since the parent will not simply know about it. As a result, the victim will become even more helpless and the impact of the bully will be more devastating. Although help is greatly valued in the society, the victim is not able to enjoy it.
Another point of difference of cyber bullying lies in the fact that the bully rarely can witness the immediate reaction of the victim which makes the attacks on a person less traumatic in his or her mind (Cassidy, Faucher & Jackson, 2005, p. 579). Indeed, it is generally promoted in the society that hurting other people is a taboo, but when the attack and the reaction to it are set apart in time the former is not perceived as such. In other words, many of the cyber bullies would have stopped their aggressive behavior if they had seen the consequences of it right away. In other words, this delay in communication should be partially blamed for the rise of cyber bullying and emergence of its unique nature.
Finally, it is important to note that unlike conventional bullying that can be physically avoided, cyber bullying is difficult to avoid (Keith & Martin, 2005, p. 225). There have been cases when cyber bullying would follow their victim on various platforms and blocking them would not help at all. In addition to that, bullying may be spontaneous and a person may simply be not prepared for it which would amplify the negative impact of it. In other words, cyber bullying occurs in the platform that is not guided by the conventional laws of interaction.
Moreover, surprisingly enough many people who were engaged in cyber bullying as offenders noted that they started it because they were bored and had nothing else to do (Keith & Martin, 2005, p. 226). One should note that it is rather easy to get away from responsibility in the virtual environment; so, they just could not resist the temptation to be rude to other people. In real life they would never be able to behave that way. This means that the virtual reality allows people to indulge themselves and act in a manner that they would like to, but are not able to in real life.
Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraph above one is able to come to the following conclusions: cyber bullying is different from conventional bullying because of the fact that it happens in a completely different environment, namely the virtual world. This means that if the society wants to eliminate it, it should change the way people interact online so that there would not be an illusion that it is so easily to offend other and get away with it. That is why not only development of netiquette, but also enforcement law regarded defamation online should be seen as a logical response to this phenomenon.
Campbell, M. A. (2005). Cyber Bullying: An Old Problem in a New Guise? Australian journal of Guidance and Counselling, 15(01), 68-76.,
Cassidy, W., Jackson, M., & Brown, K. N. (2009). Sticks and stones can break my bones, but how can pixels hurt me? Students’ experiences with cyber-bullying. School Psychology International, 30(4), 575–612.
Keith, S., & Martin, M. E. (2005). Cyber-bullying: Creating a culture of respect in a cyber world. Reclaiming children and youth, 13(4), 224-228.