Why the thought police can fuck off: views on cyberbullying, social media and free speech

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If you are a social media complainer, bully, argument instigator, thought policer ( sorry I meant, to say social media user) you will pretty familiar with the various antics that take place on social media on a daily if not an hourly basis; which all underlie the one unsolved mystery. Not the Bermuda triangle, not Big Foot and certainly not who shot Biggie Smalls. You see those topics are far too sophisticated (I'm being sarcastic for those who are new to my blog) for social media debate; what I am rather referring to is whether freedom of speech can truly be exercised on social media platforms.

Freedom of speech is the concept of the inherent human right to voice one's opinion publicly without fear of censorship or punishment, but somehow social media overrides censorship and posting replies with offensive memes can be a form of punishment for anyone who dare exercise their rights to freedom. Co-existing to freedom of speech are laws against threats, racism, sexism, defamation of character, revenge porn, bullying and so much more - but you should all know that because most of you work for the Thought Police.  

 

A term coined by George Orwell in his famous book 1984; the Thought Police are just an organisation of imbeciles (sorry, I meant individuals) who basically search, find, monitor, and torture members of society through a screen(oh he surely had a very accurate crystal ball) who could potentially challenge authority, the status quo and all the ideologies and thoughts that we have blindly accepted foryears.

 

Whether you are the social justice Joe Blogger or the regular old Joe Blogs you will most probably be more aware of the Thought Police outside of their alias name, as just your regular old cyber bullies. I'm talking about the people who post that a person was "asking for it" under campaigns against rape. The people who post that "all lives matter" to invalidate the importance of the disproportionate police brutality that affects the African American ethnic group. The people who perpetuate revenge porn. The people who respond with the laughing reaction under photos of a larger sized person for no apparent reason. The people who trod the fine line between freedom of speech and hate speech, between expressing opinions with others and forcing opinions on others. Those who post with intent to harm rather than intent to help, to be heard or just send another round of invites to play HappyVille (seriously, just stop - we don't have time to play at 3am, some of us have jobs to attend to in the early hours). That last sentence was my toned down attempt of basically telling the Thought Police to fuck off - I don't want to come across as a cyber bully myself now.

 

There is no clear evidence as to why people cyber bully or feel the need to police people online, but with some level of anonymity, it may mean that people are more free to express their views, soothe their own inadequacies, low self-esteem or showcase their un-empathetic and pathetic personalities.

 

Though, there is much evidence on why people may find themselves as the target of bullying. According to psychological research my Olewus (1973) The Deviation hypothesis suggests that targets of bullying are usually different to the mass majority in some way - they can look physically different, live a different lifestyle or just not live up to the ideals expected of them. That can explain why the entrepreneur, the minimalist, the plus-sized positivity celebrant and the make up tutor are also targets for online abuse, as well as the kid with glasses and braces.

 

Other theories suggest that the perpetration of bulling lies in the premise that there is unequal power. Contrary to popular assumption, Social Media doesn't just empower, it also disempowers. One person's sexy becomes another person's shoddy. Psychoanalysts would suggest that bullying arises out of being bullied yourself; such that you identify with the aggressor and take on their traits. As a microcosm of wider society, social media does just that. It relays ideologies in the wider world that mean that for some people to feel powerful, the antonym of the powerless must exist and thus they use their platforms to police other people. By policing freedom of speech, we eventually lose the freedom to have thoughts - differential thoughts that birthed the creativity of the very differential platform by which we now exercise our right to be free.

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