WHAT’S BAD ABOUT CYBERSPACE AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Readers of my stories and followers of me will have read about the man my father worked with who donated to the social club but didn’t attend workplace social events, and his explanation was that he kept friends and colleagues separate. Imagine the person you thought was your best friend was also your work colleague, and you socialised together, and you had an argument. You then had to turn up to work on Monday morning and co-operate. So, what can you do? You could ask for transfer, but that may not be practical. You could go to another department, but that might not be practical. You could try to solve your problem. But that might not be possible. Or, you could be the submissive one, but will that make you happy?

In the age of cyberspace, people can be more connected than they ever were before. This can be positive, but it does bring with it negatives. On the one hand, if you have relatives and friends, who live further away, you can remain connected, but it can also mean that you’re subject to things that are unpleasant.

I had a teacher at high school, who had a teacher, who he did not describe at all pleasantly. This teacher had favourites, and to be one, you had to be very bright or very good-looking. When he asked this teacher a question, after he’d been his teacher for years, this teacher asked him what his name was. I won’t name this person, however. When he finished school, this teacher thought to himself, “Thank heavens I don’t have to see that guy’s face, again.” Well, this relief was only temporary, because that teacher is now a media personality, even if his audience on his new show is only a five figure amount. I happened to know a man with whom I was diametrically opposed politically, who was a friend of this media personality.

In my day at school, we had two rooms, each of which had around fifteen computers and access was limited to a school subject, and, when I was in Year Twelve, those of us who didn’t like sport were allowed to play games on the computer in lieu of this. This was where I found my love for detective and crime solving games, such as, “Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego?” At this time, also, mobile phones were about the size of a brick, and you used them to make and receive calls, they didn’t have in-built cameras and the like.

The government has been running advertisements about cyber-bullying with kids asking their parents to stand by them, and I say that schools have to consider taking one form of action that may upset civil libertarians, even though I agree with civil libertarians in many ways. And that is, a reason why cyberbullying can be difficult for kids and teenagers is, back in my day, unless a bully lived in the same street or the next street over and attended the same school in the same class, at least there was an end to the bullying, in that when you went home, you didn’t see the bully. The bully may live in a different suburb, and unless you either played sport for alternate clubs (though this might only mean a twice in a season match up) or had a sibling who wanted to go for bike rides and didn’t understand why you didn’t want to go into that suburb, you weren’t as likely to see them on the weekend. And, if you and the bully happened to see each other at the local shops, most likely you had your parents with you, and the bully didn’t want their parents to see that the kid they thought was a little angel was a little horror.

Why cyberbullying can be so difficult is that with mobile phones with all the mod cons, kids will bring mobile phones to school and take videos of bullying incidents and upload them onto social media. One step parents can teach their kids is to block a bully, but they can’t stop a bully from uploading a video onto social media and sharing it. I truly believe, hard though it may be, schools NEED to take the approach of banning mobile phones, not just in classrooms but in schoolgrounds generally, so as to prevent these things from occurring. When I was in high school, we had a gold phone that students could use as a pay phone to ring people. Yes, I know about COVID19, and I also know that they can be vandalised, but I am advocating having it in the foyer of the administration building where the administration staff can oversee its use. Students would then be required to bring twenty or fifty cent coins to school to make phone calls or send texts. After all, students shouldn’t need to have mobile phones at school.

We may not be able to stamp bullying out at school permanently, but what we can do is help reduce opportunities that bullies may have. After all, cyberbullying can make you the antithesis of the man I described, as the cyberbully then enters your bedroom or your lounge room after school, thus denying you what he was successful in attaining, a break from his colleagues. After all, a cyberbully is not your friend and a cyberbully has no right to your time at school or away from school.

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.