Jayel Taylor, Guest Columnist

In the 1990’s, the Internet was discovered. Sure, people knew that the Internet’s capabilities were essentially limitless since it was up to the imagination of the users, but no one could have seen this coming. In the two and a half decades that the Internet has been around, social media has become a huge part of how we interact with each other. So much happens on the social media. Even the site or app that is commonly used continually shifts. But the idea remains the same – a public place where people can interact with one another freely with essentially no moderation. Sure, we have privacy policies and creators managing the content to make sure that they don’t step past any federally or privately established barriers, but beyond that the possibilities are still basically endless.

Bullying has been a problem since long before majority of the commodities we enjoy now existed. Sure, you can say I have no verification for that, but do you really think we just discovered how to ostracize and shame people for not following intrinsically integrated values and expectations? That is foolish and you should remove that thinking from your being. The ability to control how people think and act through offensive actions, whether they are physical or not, has been around for centuries, and is just now being ‘addressed’ in the last few decades as a problem. Ultimately, it has gotten worse, as with the advent of the internet, it has extended into cyberbullying.

For anyone unfamiliar with the term, cyberbullying just refers to any act that could be considering bullying someone, but occurring on the internet instead of in person. Seems a bit impossible, but it exists. People today have become so frail and sheltered and thus expect everyone to be soft and loving everywhere. The truth of the matter is that people are cruel and often enjoy making other people suffer. This was the case of the traditional school bully, and it applies to the modern cyberbully. Bullies just found a way to project their message in another way, that’s all. But people don’t seem to get that. Everyone who’s heard anything about cyberbullying seems to think that the problem lies within the cyberbully. Sure, they are the ones committing the act, but what exactly are they doing? The answer is speaking. Yes, we are attacking people who type and say things on the internet without performing any physical actions targeted at someone, and yet we believe they are the heart of the problem. No, the actual problem is the way that we coddle everyone, sheltering them from the cruelty of the real world, and then making a scene when minor acts of verbal offense occur, even though they really are not that big of a problem.

If you want to stop cyberbullying, you do it the same way you control any other form of verbal abuse, through developing ‘thick skin’ and having your own self-image and a group of people around you dedicated to holding that together with you. Spending time and effort attempting to isolate these people on the internet is futile and useless because all you are doing is letting them know that they are succeeding and that they should thus continue doing this to people. Why? Even though we could pinpoint the location of these people or just prevent them from interacting on these sites, it’s worthless and expensive to focus so much time and effort of trying to prevent them from saying things when all they have to do is bounce their IP or create a new user.

The actual problem and solution are based on the way that we have socially educated people. As a society, the rules for social interaction have become more ‘limiting’ and ‘politically correct,’ attempting to enforce the idea that you should not say anything that is harmful or disrespectful. Sure, that might be ideal, but you can’t expect everyone to enforce that rule. The much better solution is to work on having everyone develop tougher ‘skin’ and learning to just take the downs with the ups, filtering what they want to hear/see, and having control over their self-image. Self-image is the key to solving this problem, or better yet the ability to control it. Instead of working to prevent the negative, it is always easier to build a positive, because negatives will always find a way through whatever systems and protections you enforce.