Saturday, October 16, 2010

cyberbullying, social media, facebook, twitter, a haven for narcissists? part 1

So what is all this cyberbullying really about? Has it always been there, the concept of bullying that is and now there is just another really convenient outlet in social media? Is it getting worse? Have teenagers always been attempting and committing suicide because of the vile ways they are treated by other young adults? Are we just more aware of it? Is it just in our faces more because of the instantaneous virtual connection and immediacy of the Internet?
There are so many frameworks to understand it, yet it is still not understood well, we know it is bad, but we don't know how to really stop it as a society. There are maybe three things to think about in terms of this whole problem. The concept of anonymity, communication, and narcissism.
Think about it, you really have no idea on social media outlets,  on the Internet for that matter exactly whom you are communication with through the concept of electronic printed word, that's why it is called VIRTUAL. With the concept of true anonymity, anyone can be anything and anyone they want. It is amazing how many people lie about who they are and what they are, but that was happening long before the Internet, but I think it is safe to say the Internet really propelled that pathology forward by light years in just a couple decades. Why would someone do that?
Well we like to think a person just feels bad about themselves, low self-esteem, etc etc, yes that is true, that why people brag and boast. But it is deeper than the everpresent low self esteem. The reason the self esteem is low and the person is constantly lying trying to reinvent themselves, it isn't low self esteem, it is more that there is really nothing there on the inside at all, a big hole of emptiness in ones sense of self. The sense of self is a big lofty concept, but it also sounds quite simple. It is our sense of reality of ourselves and the world around us. It is our sense of who and how and what we are in the world and how the rest of the world (people) relates to us. That is our so called "ego-strength". The more developed ones ego strength the better they can cope relate and navigate through the world. Now when someones ego is developed in a healthy way, it gets really sophisticated in that when that is developed the next thing that develops is a sense of right and wrong, in reference to the world and others. Unless you have a true sense of self, a sense of right and wrong the so called "super-ego" can't really develop. How we relate to others in the world is our so called "object relations". Pretty much all these things start to develop and build upon one another from the time a person is coming out of the womb. an infant has no sense of self, they pretty much think the mother and they are the same thing for the first few months of life. no separation, no boundary. Pretty much everyone figures out they are a separate entity, right. To psychologically separate is a lot harder and a longer process through the early years.
What does all this have to do with the anonymity of the Internet and social media and cyberbullying and teens? Well the teenager struggles with their identity, their ego there sensee of self. They learn to think abstractly,  they have to figure out how to go from childhood to adulthood. The have to figure out how to use their super-ego (The sense of right and wrong) if they ever developed it ( comes FROM the PARENTS) to get through the world. Every teen struggles with identity and sense of self, it is a growing period. It is all based upon how things went in those first ten or twelve years of life.
We hear the old adage"he is she is basically a good kid- he or she just got into the wrong crowd" Well hears news, Every kid is basically a good kid, no one ever asked to be born right?
so since every teen struggle with their sense of self and identify, isn't it cool to have the Internet and facebook and YouTube and myspace and this and that and the other thing to help facilitate that? You can be whoever you want, who cares, it's really right? Well virtually anyway.
you could see how the anonymity and the flip side of the coin VIRTUAL INTIMACY and connection really helps the old psychological developmental process along in the teenage years.  Oh and it is really immediate and convenient too. But it is just you and your computer, or laptop of iPhone or whatever, and you are pretty much cut of from developing and sense of object relations or really how to get along or connect with other people when it is so important to refine in those developmentally turbulent adolescent years. Just the kid and his keyboard hmmm, sounds pretty powerful and omnipotent doesn't it. Well at least virtually. Hmm with that in place why would there not be cyberbullying? Throw in the communication issue, (the only form of human connection be it physical, spiritual, intellectual, or virtual communication it is connection, but what about virtual?

NB: when I use the term omnipotence or all powerful, (sitting at the keyboard), it may be derived from then anonymity, or that bubble or shell around the person, it is the same concept as why some people are outrageously aggressive people when they drive, Road rage etc. There is a false sense of power and security being in a car and as such the keyboard and the Internet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lots of good questions you have asked in context of the dark side of the Internet, Dr. Sivak. The almighty anonimity that engages and misleads grown men to become online predators in the manner that Dateline NBC repeatedly exposes, also leads some women to throw all vestiges of common sense and social inhibitions out the virtual window.

Cyber-bullying is virtual strength, which is entirely cowardly to face the light of day.

Love all the questions you have posed on this layered topic that is currently trending in our national news as a sound-byte.

I'm still thinking. I can tell that you are thinking as well.


Talking about the book with the Lake Superior wind....... a calm day