In the hunt for freedom of speech, society has intertwined arrays of aggressive behavior to self-expression. What lies beneath our emotional closets is a tool utilized with comfort, acting as our freedom wall: the Internet. As a web-enabled generation, the youth has turned the digital world as a platform to abuse power, vent rages, and of course, make fun of others without constraints. They are compelled to engage in this social environment knowing that they have to undergo virtual initiations that involve psychological violence.
Generation Y dominates this multi-dimensional reflection we call cyberworld. As it contours us into a digitized embodiment of behavior, we mostly flash a facade under a false sense of anonymity. This indirect representation of one’s being caters to an “unrestricted self” that explores desires for what we cannot duly do in real life. This, as a response to our psychological needs, results to degrading tactics, which are becoming more commonly discerned in the Internet.
The World Wide Web has become the trending playground for diverse attention-seekers with varying purposes to fulfill one’s lack of satisfaction: seeking information, companion and sexual gratification. In this platform, everyone is interconnected. The theory of Six Degrees of Separation by Frigyes Karinthy states, by way of introduction, that people are made to be connected in a maximum of six steps. With the Internet’s extreme social contraction, networking is easily attained and extensively branched out by linking one’s mutual friends. In these bonds, we are also likely to develop multiple personalities, identities that urge us to explore practices that we are not accustomed to or are prohibited to do in the “real world.” Because the Internet brings food to the table better than any platform, people are inclined to extend themselves in manners that have little or no constraints at all. This situation continues to arise in social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; and underground websites with burgeoning niches, as they clinch as a melting pot of extreme communal expression.
In this age, the phrase “always online” has evolved from being a desperate myth to a highly-convenient reality. This actuality has resulted to the unlimited access of cyberbullies to their cyber sandbox—players allured by the Internet’s liberty of anonymity to express varying initiations, advocations and provocations, mostly to masquerade, to deceive and to acquire fulfillment. Without condition, this social flow has become cultural in youth’s nature. The Internet has generated our lifestyle into spontaneous engagements, minimal manners and dwindled conscience. As we abuse our freedom of expression, we get coerced into the art of clobbering.
In the bully’s context, comments are carriers of this writing-driven infection—they inject sensations meant to threaten. These toxic remarks are contagious as single-statement insults can become viral within hours if exposed to a petri-dish environment. This phenomenon has become an avenue to experiment with our hidden selves—most of the time, our dark side that wallows in hatred, insecurity, and envy. These series of intimidations still dwell on the Internet because we tolerate a culture of prejudice—a culture that says “Boys will be boys,” “Girls should stay in the kitchen,” “Good-looking people are cheaters” and other stereotypical thinking that are suspicious of and unsympathetic to what they consider “different”.
All these natures of cyberbullying manifest in class discrimination, homophobia, sexism, casual racism, religious intolerance and discrimination based on physical appearance. These attitudes are documented and conventional in the world of bullying to this day due to freewheeling of the information superhighway. In this digital era, we have been shaped to act like “cybertrolls,” browsing like digital nomads, grasping on insensitive identities and conquering with self-serving intentions. But, if we scrutinize our actions as if we are being observed in person, will we still present ourselves in the same manner others see through our digital mirrors?