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Digital Harassment

The warning signs are there. The problem is that it has become too commonplace for us recognize it as being harassment. At a time when virtually everyone has a cell phone, or is in some way connected through one of many forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.), we can contact anyone we wish at a moments notice. There in lies the problem. Too many relationships have become accustomed to experiencing some form of digital harassment. Reading 82 titled, “Textual Harassment” brings to light several examples of digital harassment, all having devastating outcomes.

How many of us have experienced, or at the very least, know someone close to us who have been affected by this? An ex- boyfriend or girlfriend blowing up your phone time after time with what we may write off as just “annoying”. The fact is, this is harassment and too often this doesn’t end with the “annoying” text messages. In reading 82 by Donna St. George, there are some incredible examples of violence that all stemmed from the person being harassed not understanding that what they are experiencing is, in fact, harassment.

Personally, I’ve seen this sort of thing happen to many friends both male and female. A friend will receive text message after text message demanding to know where they are or who they are with. I even have some friends that are required to share their passwords to their Facebook account so their boyfriend or girlfriend can keep tabs on them. The point is, we all know jealousy when we see it or experience it but for some reason we don’t always see its potential harm when it occurs via Facebook, Twitter, or especially texting.

In the article, a father whose daughter was murdered by an ex-boyfriend made an excellent point. He offered a reason why it is so easy for this harassment to take place nowadays and why so many are victimized. He said, “when I was growing up, we had one phone in the whole house, and if you were fighting with your boyfriend or girlfriend, everybody knew about it.” The idea here is that someone who is being victimized (harassed, stalked, threatened) through texting or social media, is able to keep the harassment private which only worsens the potential outcome.

Bottom line: don’t simply discount these things as being “annoying”. Harassment is harassment


4 Comments

  1. dsielski says:

    I would have to agree with the father of the murdered daughter in that mobile phones have made it a lot easier to hide harassment when it is taking place. Because parents don’t want to seem to nosy, they usually give children their space, and don’t look through their texts or social media inboxes. However, in the case of this girl, a simple check through her texts by her parents very well could have saved her life. There is a thin line as to when parents are being too nosy and not nosy enough and I feel as though, in the future, parents should choose the side of caution and be too nosy more often than not.

  2. jtfick says:

    Before reading this article in the class, I didn’t really know much about textual harassment. I definitely didn’t know how serious it was, either. This kind of hit home for me because I know someone who has been complaining of an ex boyfriend that keeps sending her text messages and it’s becoming “annoying.” After class when we went over this article, I realized exactly how serious this is and how crazy people can be. Worried about her, I informed her of what I just read and explained that what she is going through is considered harassment and she needed to take a stand for herself before something happens, like what happened to the poor girl in the article. Since just about everyone has a cell phone in today’s world, along with email, I think it would be appropriate for classes to be taught in schools, or at least have guest speakers provide information about how textual harassment affects people’s lives daily.

  3. Favi Bogen says:

    While I agree that digital harassment is a problem, I think we are also partly to blame. I remember living with my parents as a child and having no privacy. Why? My parents paid the bills and i lived under their roof. If I wanted to use the phone, I had to ask (so my mom would be close enough to ease drop on my conversations). If I went out, my mom knew who I was going out with as she had to meet all of my friends. My parents always made an effort to have dinner as a family. It was during this time that we spent some time with one another and talked about what was going on with school, sports, friends, life, etc. Granted as I grew up, I didn’t divulge as much as I did as a kid but I always had someone to talk to whether it was my coach, boss, friend, etc. For some, the social media is their best friend. It has become the place for them to share as little or as much as they want. I have an acquaintance on Facebook who shares everything about her life from her mourning her grandmother’s death, break-up with her bf, searching for a new job, finding the best job, losing friendships, etc. I actually had to hide her posts because she was filling up my newsfeed. I always wondered if she had anyone close enough to tell these things to rather than publicize her life to people she barely knew (like myself). I wonder if she knows her HR department (or future potential employer HR dept) may have read every post she made and the impression it made. While social media is everywhere, we have the responsibility and control of how much we use it or allow our (future) children to use it. My parents never asked me how I wanted to be punished or what I should be allowed to do. Granted, I didn’t agree with some of their childrearing ways but I was bias. Now as an adult, I have realized that my parents did an excellent job raising my siblings and I. I don’t feel the need to share my thoughts and feelings on FB (especially when friends of friends can see my posts). Instead, I call one of my best friends and vent to them about my troubles, problems, achievements, etc. so the advice I would give a parent is to spend some time with their child and talk to them. The same would apply to your friend/best friend. It’s amazing what you find out about people when you take the time to talk to them.

  4. mplowden says:

    I have been a victim of digital harassment and from someone who I had formerly trusted. I am the type of person who shares everything with my parents. So naturally they knew about it. After numerous times of the person not leaving me alone. My father contacted the person and then I was finally left alone.
    In todays day in age people are afraid to share things. Children should share things with their parents. That falls on the child and the parent. If they don’t feel comfortable sharing with their parents, share with friends. Telling one other person might do a world of help.

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