I witnessed a conversation between two young relatives. It was unwittingly instigated by another post from a young relative about the legalization of marijauna. This is a topic that is frequently debated and of course there are two sides to the argument. What should have remained an intellectual debate, turned into something else. Pointed barbs were lobbied by one to the other.
I was astonished. I thought that I knew this young man. Where was this coming from. Where was the gentleness that I had witnessed in our last visit? Where was the consideration of others opinion in a respectful manner that I had witnessed in our last visit?
I came to realize that he would probably have never been as "mean" if he had been face to face with his debater. His normally good manners were apparently thrown to the wind. Facebook gave him the security to be at a distance, knowing that he was unlikely to see that person for a very long time. It was an interesting phenomena to witness.
Facebook, is a platform that allows for all sorts of self expression. I have seen many debates on Facebook and until now I had not witnessed such a personal attack on a "friend", though apparently, politicians are fair game. Normally it is a case of agreeing to disagree.
I can now see how easily cyber bullying occurs. The unwitting instigator, wisely chose to stay out of the debate and not add fuel to the fire. I chose to add two comments. "Wowsers!" being one and the other " I am deeply saddened that what should have been an intellectual debate turned personal." I wanted it known that it had been observed.
By our observations and our willingness to express that, we can subtly offer up a "Hey you?! What are you doing?!"
Maybe that will be enough to turn something around and maybe it won't. I may never know.
I only hope that they remember that it is a public forum and that words can hurt.