From Cyberbullying to Quakers

This semester it’s “Media Ethics” and “Journalism History & Practice” for grad school at The College of Saint Rose. The two classes don’t mix as well as chocolate and peanut butter. But they do overlap, by topic and by assignment.

Earlier today I had a journalism story due. I wrote one about a group of Quakers in Albany, NY. For the most part, that assignment is out of the way. But in just under 22 hours, I’ve got a five-page paper due for Media Ethics. The topic: cyberbullying.

It’s a tough topic. Not because it’s any more difficult to write about. No, it’s tough to read about it, to hear about it. Certainly, people have treated others with cruelty throughout history. What scares me about cyberbullying is the speed at which it occurs. With just a few keystrokes, a few clicks of a mouse, horrendous commentary can be spread worldwide. And in this online world, it can be accomplished virtually anonymously.

As I think about raising my two boys in today’s society, I occasionally get antsy. My kids are growing up in an online world, one with an accelerating pace. The specter of cyberbullying increases my uneasiness. It makes it all the more important that I teach my children the importance of being respectful.

Despite traditional childhood sayings about “sticks and stones,” words are capable of producing pain. We should measure them carefully. I’m reminded of Psalm 19:14:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (NIV)

Bringing this post full-circle, I suspect that cyberbullies could learn a great deal from the Quakers!

And now I’ve only got 21 hours to finish the paper. Back to work…

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  1. I’ve had a few instances this school year with cyber bullying. It’s nt pretty my friend.

  2. springtimesoul

     /  April 6, 2011

    For years now, parents have been told not to spank our children because that teaches them that physical violence is the way to handle things. And now we have kids (and adults) destroying souls with keystrokes. Maybe it was better when two boys would go out behind the barn and duke it out with their fists. I wonder?

    • Now, that’s a perspective that I didn’t expect to hear from my mother. Not sure about fists… but maybe a good wrestling match behind the barn.

      • springtimesoul

         /  April 7, 2011

        When you were a preschooler and we were houseparents, conventional houseparent wisdom was that boys were easier than girls because boys would get mad, fight–it’s all over. Girls would plot revenge, elaborate plans that could put a lot of time between the act and the response. Now social media makes the time lapse short and the spread exponential.

      • Hmmm. I wonder if cyberbullying is more common with boys or girls.

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