Cyber Hate — Online Trolls

Maybe information and communication are too free, and way too easy.  I never thought I would entertain that idea, especially as someone who trades on those very resources, but the growing use of cyberspace to taunt vulnerable kids to the point of ending their young lives has me questioning what kind of pandora’s box we have opened.  Now, I hear on the Today Show that it’s not enough to goad someone to their death, “online trolls”  are now preying on the loved ones of the deceased during their time of grief with cruel comments left on message boards and memorial sites.

Internet search makes it a breeze to find out about accidents, suicides or murders and to target families with hurtful messages, and even images, about those they have recently lost.  Most often, the perpetrators don’t even know the person they are bad-mouthing.  They have no connection to the family, and no remorse about skewering the heart of a parent who is suffering what I believe must be the worst kind of loss–that of a child.  Has our society become so callous that we look the other way at this kind of assault to our sense of right and wrong?

The messages on boards, chat rooms and blogs that espouse this kind of evil are not against the law — but they are against any kind of law of decency.  I also have a sinking feeling that the recent violence in our political arena is somehow related.  What will we tolerate in order to preserve our freedom of expression?  Certainly this is one of many wake-up calls for us to take a hard look at what we teach our children, how we educate them, and what we promote as having value.

I can’t help thinking what this kind of harassment would have done to my own parents when they lost their child to a plane crash, and I’m grateful that their tragedy was in gentler times when they could rely on their neighbors, and many strangers, to reach out to them in comfort. To add to that kind of pain with cruel taunting is an unfathomable breach of even the lowest moral standards.

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