The internet and social media have undoubtedly made our lives better, allowing us to connect with friends and relatives, stay up to date with current events, and access a plethora of information at our fingertips. But although the experience of most people on social media is positive, many have had a completely different experience. Internet trolls have made it their life’s mission to make other peoples’ lives a living hell. To the trolls, internet harassment is nothing but a game from which they derive a sick, sadistic pleasure. But for the victims it often means misery, depression, crippling shame, and even suicide.
The internet provides a virtual, and often anonymous platform for people to say things that they would never say in public, making it the perfect medium for society’s outcasts to spread their hate-filled views and vitriol. Free from social consequences, society’s sadists feel empowered to seek out and harass innocent victims who may not have the thick skin and self esteem to withstand the barrage of verbal abuse. Victims are often women and minorities targeted by racists and misogynists. Right-wing public figures have also used social media to bully and harass people they don’t like, while hiding behind the banner of “free speech”. Social Media giants are becoming wise to this however, and have started to boot these hateful people from their platforms.
Cyberbullying highlights the limitations of free speech, and the need to enact strict laws against hate speech and harassment on the internet. Progressives believe that it is the NSA’s duty to track down and arrest cyberbullies, in order to create a safer internet environment. The government needs to take a hard line approach on this issue before the internet becomes a hate-filled cesspool where only the most hateful and thick skinned people can survive. The internet should be a place where normal people with mainstream views can peacefully converse and consume mainstream media, without hateful bigots disrupting the peace and subjecting innocent victims to horrific verbal abuse. For the sake of the internet we all know and love, we must act now.