Is the worldwide web a platform for those to say things without consequences?

Over the past decade the online community has boomed, giving all users new platforms to find out information, keep in touch and shop. Without the internet the world today would be a very different place. Businesses have had to adapt the online market and many workers are now able to work remotely from their desk. It certainly has its pros, but also cons.

This August I was doing an Edinburgh Fringe show which was called Two Funny Lassies. Most of our promotion was over the web and it meant that we could reach people from all over the world who were travelling to Edinburgh during the festival. It was then that I had my first experience of cyber bullying which was something I had never even appreciated the dangers of before. I had put myself out there on the web and never expected any negative effects because I wasn’t harming anybody.

However, during one night of our show we had an audience member who walked out the show 2 minutes from the end because they were offended at one of my fringe partner’s joke. I didn’t think much of the walk out, after all it was two minutes to the end and they could have had another show to get to. It wasn’t until I got home and checked online that I saw this person had begun complaining on twitter, falsely accusing us and me personally of things just to get a rise. When they did not get an angry response from me, they found my Facebook and messaged all our mutual friends, trying to tarnish my name on false grounds.

I was extremely shocked that someone would do this, especially as I personally had not said anything that she got offended at. It made me realise that people who wouldn’t necessarily show their anger in person, are those who find confidence behind a screen. On a social media platform, you can be whoever you want and say things that you would never say in real life. Bullies find it easier to attack people which is why you must know how to deal with these situations.

The first step would be to check the privacy of your social media platforms. Unfortunately, I use my Facebook profile to promote my column and charity nights, so having a private profile would not maximise the use for me. But for those who do not need this, having a private profile with only people you know as friends will increase your safety online.

Secondly, if you are faced with an issue of cyber bullying, keep a note and screenshots of everything that happens as it will help your case if they go far enough for the issue to be taken to the police. Unfortunately, people can say what they want on a public platform. However, sites such as Twitter and Facebook have an option to report a post and you can tell them why it is inappropriate. The sites are normally effective at moderating the posts and deleting anything like this.

My main advice would be to be honest online and don’t have anything on there that you don’t want seen or shown. This keeps your followers loyal and trustworthy so that if it comes to it, they can stick up for you.

The online is an invaluable tool, but it must be used wisely. But just remember that only cowards target people from behind a screen. Stay strong and keep safe!

Please get in touch with comments and suggestions.