Andy Carvin has declared this Friday, March 30, "Stop Cyberbullying Day" in support of blogger Kathy Sierra, who recently went public with the death threats she has received. (BE AWARE--If you read Kathy's post, be careful where you do it. She made the brave and necessary choice to be very straight about the nature of the misogynistic torrent of hate that rained down on her and it's not entirely "work safe.")
Personally I think that to call what Kathy has endured "cyberbullying" is putting it mildly. This borders on cyber-stalking or even cyber-rape. To me, a cyberbully is someone who is rude or rough in Internet discourse, getting cruel and personal with the comments, etc. But when you start calling a woman a c*** and talking about wanting to "beat this b**tch with a bat," then you've taken it to a whole other level.
It's ironic (or maybe not) that Deborah Finn reports today on her own less than positive experiences running a listserv:
Fortunately, the universe has its ways of helping me stay aware that I have great, um, scope for improvement. One of them is John's well-honed skill in needling me. Another is the vilification I've been receiving lately as the moderator of an online community that is focused on an area of the nonprofit sector. In the last month, I've inspired disgruntled group members to speculate about whether my practices as a moderator are best described in terms of "discrimination," "censorship," "malice," "incompetence," or "gross negligence."
Come on, people. Just because someone doesn't see your face doesn't mean that all sense of human decency and respect should go out the window. I love the Net, but this is the kind of thing that makes me question where we're headed as a society. Let's not forget the "social" part of "social media" and "social networking." And let's try to NOT recreate in cyberspace our social interactions in real space.
If you want to show your support for Kathy and join Stop Cyberbullying Day, then take Andy's advice:
Write a blog post pointing to online resources about cyberbullying. Post a podcast about personal experiences. Create your own public service announcement about the dangers of cyberbullying and post it on YouTube. Then tag it with the phrase stopcyberbullying. If you're uploading it somewhere that lets you type in your own tags, be sure to include it. If you're blogging and don't have tagging built into your blog, you can embed it with the HTML code shown here so it will be picked up by search tools like Technorati. The more people we can get blogging about it, the better, because that will catch the attention of search tools and social media websites, spreading awareness further. It will also allow us to aggregate everyone's posts so we can see who's participating.
You might also want to join Andy's Stop Cyberbullying social networking site. There you can discuss the issue, share resources, and show your support.
So this Friday, we're all doing something, right? Because if we're going to use the Web for anything, it should be to take a stand on what we know is wrong.