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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Cyber-bullying

Can't we all just get along?

"What upsets me is that I am now being labelled 'a victim'. My pride rankles at not continuing to fight to the bitter end, but my reason says I did the right thing."

I enjoy being part of the Politics Jersey group on Facebook recently the group has been troubled by one or two mavericks who have been disrupting the group leading one of the admins to make a blog post "Don't be a Blockhead". 

What is Cyber-Bullying?

Examples of what constitutes cyber-bullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour intended to harm another. Cyber-bullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council:
“When the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person."
A cyber-bully may be a person whom the target knows or an online stranger. A cyber-bully may be anonymous and may solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target. This is known as a 'digital pile-on'.

It was recently suggested that I had been 'the victim' of an attempted cyber-bullying. Much against my natural inclination once twelve of my peers had indicated that I should place a block on someone on Facebook, 'a jury of my peers' if you will, I reluctantly did just that.

So in trying to demonstrate 'Actus Rea' I have been looking back through the threads including some which have been deleted by the mods but I have "right click>save web page"ed.

DEFINITIONS

First let us establish a purpose for Facebook groups. A Facebook group is a place where many individuals may choose to share their views. As one member so accurately pointed out "Opinions are like a*holes, everyone has one". It is implicit in joining a group that you will encounter people of differing opinions.

Secondly let us establish the difference between stating an opinion which is not supported by 'the facts' (such as 'the States of Jersey are competent') and deliberately stating something which you know to be false (more commonly referred to as 'lying').

ACTUS REA

The 'Actus Rea' begins many months earlier, when out of the blue Peter Zambon, a person with an BMMB (the degree you take as the first step to being a doctor) but currently a lecturer with BPP, jumped into the group to point out that I had said something by mistake which was not true. Seventy or so posts back and forth and it transpired that Peter had read something but not read it in the context of the progression of the discussion. At no point had he actually ventured his own opinion, his contribution was restricted to trying to prove me wrong.

From that day on Peter's contribution to the group was virtually restricted to popping his head in now and again to demand I either correct a mis-statement or to provide proof of my opinion. He rarely shared his personal opinion other than to self-aggrandise (as will be discussed later on).

I cannot be required to 'prove' my opinion, an opinion being the position the individual takes on the basis of all knowledge and understanding that is available to the individual at the time. How does one prove what their opinion is? It is what it is, and it is what they say it is.

Occasionally in the course of discussions the odd error would creep into the narrative so I would thank Peter for his assistance and say the exact same thing with different wording and move on with the discussion.

So were these "communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour intended to harm another."

MENS REA

Cyber-bullying deals with "communications that seek to", in other words it is not the end result which is important it is the intention of the person who makes the communications which is the 'crime'. So just because the bully does not succeed in his intention to "to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate" does not mean that cyber-bullying has not occurred.

We must look at the general behaviour of 'the cyber-bully' - the pattern was targeted at a single individual, was hostile, made no contribution to the group discussion, were negative.

We can then look to what the 'cyber-bully' did state. For example in a discussion about social class he referred to the Office of National Statistics and stated that he was in the 'highest' group. He referred to his 'professional standing' and 'protecting his reputation'. And even when demonstrated to be incorrect would respond with increased hostility rather than the more reasonable acceptance of his human imperfection.

To the best of my knowledge and understanding, the 'cyber-bully' was displaying a classic superiority complex.

SUPERIORITY COMPLEX

A superiority complex is a psychological defence mechanism in which a person's feelings of superiority counter or conceal his or her feelings of inferiority. The term was coined by Alfred Adler (February 7, 1870 – May 28, 1937), as part of his School of Individual psychology. It was introduced in his series of books, including "Understanding Human Nature" and "Social Interest".

An individual with a superiority complex will find satisfaction in proving himself superior to another person in order to counter the inner feeling that he is inferior. A 'reasonable man' who knows that all humans are equal so instead obtains satisfaction from 'mastering a task'.

THE DIGITAL PILE-ON

When several people with a superiority complex, unite with the common purpose of proving their superiority over an individual. It has long been understood that 'a mob' will be far less restrained than an individual.

When Peter was joined by his sidekicks Tristan Gray who actually went so far as to openly stating I was deliberately misleading people, (which whilst the admins of the group deleted, I saw fit to preserve for posterity) and Sandra Bisson the 'bullying' turned up a notch or two.

In response to demands that I 'prove my opinion' and bring an end to the negativity I completed the previous two blog posts, but demonstrating that my opinion was indeed correct to the best of the whole group's knowledge and understanding (including the 'bully's') only resulted in ever increasingly hostile attention.

It was at this stage in my particular case that things got out of control and I was advised by several people to prevent any further communication. It was having a negative effect on other members of the group who were gradually getting more vociferous in their complaints about what was happening and so I felt after several people had suggested the course of action that there was no other option but to be 'a blockhead' for the sanity of the group as a whole.

There comes a time when even the most reasonable of people must simply walk away.

CONCLUSION

Sadly it is a fact of Jersey life that people who work in the finance industry particularly at the lower echelons have a ridiculous superiority complex. I recall whilst working as a barman that the phrase 'I am an accountant' was often touted as a good reason to allow a person thoroughly intoxicated to imbibe more alcohol in contravention of the Law.

Having worked in the finance industry I can only tacit that it is because it is such a thoroughly horrible experience to work in such places; undertaking work which has no real meaning or purpose other than to allow the wealthy to avoid contributing their fare share to the community in which they live and which they profit from; working with a group of people who either have given up and are only there for the money but really do not want to be there at all, or who are so young and naive that they think they are on their way to great things.

The 'superiority' arises simply for earning 'high wages' or so they are told, whilst the 'inferiority' arises from the knowledge that they are at the beck and call of the whim of their clients and bosses, little more than slaves.

Being free to live life as one wishes, to buck the system, to wander where the fancy takes you; as I choose to live my life may just be the reason that I was the preferred target. I stand as proof that everything you were ever led to believe was a lie. I'm glad I was, someone else may well have been upset by it.

What has upset me most is that I am now being labelled 'a victim' my pride rankles at not continuing to fight to the bitter end. My reason tells me that I did the right thing.

I shall, however, take more seriously the occasional complaints of my step-daughters when they argue with their friends; these matters can run out of control very quickly.