A Subculture of Hate

Posted: December 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

As technology continues to advance, the platforms in which cyberbullying can be perpetuated continue to multiply. As mentioned in the ‘About Me’ section of this blog, one of the purposes of social networking is merely for entertainment, but social networks that are dedicated to cyberbullying for entertainment purposes are on the rise.

One example of such a social networking site is 4chan. 4chan is an image and message board created by then 15 year old Christopher Poole. It was designed to resemble the Japanese message boards 2chan and Futaba. Users may upload photos and comment on photos in complete anonymity.It is the birthplace of the wildly popular memes, which are photos with humorous captions on them. They generally involve making fun of whoever is in the photo and because the use of 4chan is in complete anonymity, there is no limit to what photos users can post and what captions they can include on the photos. There is also no limit to what comments users may leave on these photos. Anyone can become a victim on 4chan.

One case of cyberbullying on 4chan involves an eleven year old that goes by the name of “Jessi Slaughter”. The 11 year old girl was rumored to be involved with the lead singer of an Emo band and some of her peers were jealous of her and began calling her names such as “slut”. Jessi’s response: “If you can’t stop hating, you know what? I’ll pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushy.” This comment was posted on 4chan’s /b/ message board where bullying seems to be the most intense and all of her personal information was posted online. People began tormenting her relentlessly and doing what is now called “trolling”. Trolling is posting hateful comments just for attention or to get a rise out of everyone that can read the comments. Some trolls suggested Jessi kill herself and her response was a video of her crying profusely while her dad yells at the camera in the background.

Cyber bully expert and attorney Parry Aftab covered the Jessi Slaughter case on Good Morning America, thus making herself a target to 4chan users. They shut down her websites wiredsafety.org and aftab.com, vandalized her information on Wikipedia and created a malicious rumor accusing her of child molestation. Aftab was supposed to do a follow up report on the Jessi Slaughter case the next day but instead, she chose not to return to GMA to discuss the topic. The cyberbullying expert had been relentlessly cyberbullied! Go figure.

Another social networking site that has gained popularity because it advocates cyber bullying is Encyclopedia Dramatica. I think the name itself is pretty self-explanatory. Encyclopedia Dramatica is a self-described parody of an encyclopedia that offers politically incorrect descriptions. Many of the posts on Encyclopedia Dramatica are racist or sexually explicit. The majority of posts are done by trolls. Anonymity tends to be a troll’s best friend.

One example of how Encyclopedia Dramatica contributed to cyberbullying was in the case of 13 year old UK teen, Sam Leeson. In 2008, Sam committed suicide after being taunted by bullies on the social networking website Bebo. Sam was often targeted by trolls because he was goth-emo. People that dress and listen to music of this lifestyle are often targeted by bullies because they are a little different than mainstream. Eventually, it got to the point where Sam could not take it anymore and he hung himself in his bedroom. The Encyclopedia Dramatica page dedicated to Sam is filled with hateful comments about the deceased teenager. Some of the trolling includes cartoons of Sam with a noose around his neck and even a video depicting a parody of Sam’s death exists on YouTube as well. It is devastating for Sam’s family to see this hateful page and Sam’s death being made a mockery of is not the first and will not be the last.

What is really scary about these social networking sites that are dedicated to cyber bullying is just that – the sites exists solely to inflict emotional pain to its victims. These “communities” are a sub culture of the social networking culture, and are constantly growing and gaining popularity. Many social networking sites offer an option to users to “report abuse”, but one can see why this would not exist on websites that are dedicated to cyber bullying. Encyclopedia Dramatica, like many of these other hateful websites, hides behind “free speech”. Victims should steer clear of these types of websites at all costs, and most importantly, don’t feed the trolls!

 

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Comments
  1. I strongly feel that social networks were meant for entertainment while staying connected with friends and family. However, people are using it as a platform to bully others online with an audience to witness the abuse. Social networks like facebook, twitter and myspace can be a dangerous tool in the hands of a cyberbully.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. rmba7611 says:

    Aisha,

    Your blog touches upon a very real and profound subject area, just how others use social media to bully and spread hate to and about one another. I agree that more has to be done in terms of awareness and adequate legislative response, but the community level or grass roots are just as important to getting the message out. Nice blog. Best.

    –Robert

    Like

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