Monday, March 2, 2020

Internet Bullying

At the end of last year, two entertainers in succession, ended their own lives, news of great sadness in society. With the report came the reason for the choice:  malicious comments, insults that were experienced by the entertainers. Consequently, the Blue House Bulletin Board was flooded with petitions to do something with cybercrime and the malicious comments experienced by many on the internet.

In 2018 there was the sad case of an elementary school student's suicide because of internet bullying. Society wants to see a change, all the different levels in society have shown a need to do something because of the great shame experienced by society. The church also needs to get involved. In the Kyeongyang magazine, a priest with a doctorate in media studies brings the problems to the attention of the readers.

Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, Rejoice and Be Glad, mentions the issue as he does in many of his messages. "Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forms of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned. The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others. It is striking that at times, in claiming to uphold the other commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying, and ruthlessly vilify others. Here we see how the unguarded tongue, set on fire by hell, sets all things ablaze" (115).

If we examine verbal violence we see the shame and contempt that is included. In the case with the two entertainers, we have maliciousness that was intended to destroy the entertainers. It was vulgar abuse, mockery; the verbal violence was too much for them.

When one is overcome with shame one loses the ability to see things correctly and will refuse sympathy from others, overcome by anger, fear, and criticism. The humiliation engendered is like a whirlpool from which one finds it difficult to extract oneself. Without the successful management of energy from the emotions the possibility of suicide will be present. Those who are inflicting this pain on others often are not conscious of the harm and the hate that they are projecting.

This kind of loathing and hatred expressed in cyberspace is contagious and speaks to their colleagues who begin to think they are justified in what they are doing. We must not forget that those two entertainers had to deal with this loathing and hatred.

This whole issue of verbal violence in Korean society and efforts to resolve the issue is not a small matter. The society in which we exist will not easily accept the curtailing of free speech and efforts to do so will be seen as a movement toward totalitarianism. Also, many believe those in the field of entertainment need to accept this as a part of the life they have chosen. And when it comes to the degree and those who need to be curtailed, discernment is most difficult.

He mentions a university professor who reminds those who want to see a change that the way to go about it is not with a hammer but with a scalpel. Hate speech and the freedom to express oneself have to be delicately approached and freedom of expression protected but the need to have society sympathetic with the efforts to deal with the problem is of great advantage. There is a need to remove the reasons for hate speech and efforts to show why verbal violence can be more hurtful than physical violence.

Efforts also need to be made to help the victims of this verbal violence to understand where the humiliations that they are experiencing is coming from and make efforts to eradicate it. "Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations, you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness" (118).

When efforts are made to humiliate us we need to remember the distorted views of the perpetrators and remember the dignity that we have as children of God. This is easily said but those who are undergoing the humiliation are in great agony we must never forget. We need to understand the situation they are in, and to train persons who will be able to help those who face this type of abuse as we work to see a society that will always remember the dignity of all our brothers and sisters, those with whom we agree and disagree.


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