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Cowards at the Keyboard

By John Hargreaves - 28 November 2014 22

bully

Before the anonymity of the internet, if a person had a view and wanted it expressed, they had to write to a newspaper, call into a radio station or stand on a soap box. But these were limited options because of the need for space or time. Only a few got through to express their views.

Opinions were shared with friends and debated with those of opposing views.

In politics football and religion, tempers flared, insults flew and issues debated. Rarely, though were people irreparably injured.

Enter the internet and the landscape changed.

Now, of course, all of the above applies. But there is an insidious side to the net. Views are expressed with a violence and malevolence unheard of in the face to face interactions of the past.

People were much more mindful of the hurt imparted by a defaming comment, a vicious insult.

Now, though, through the artificial prism of the internet, people feel free, even empowered by their anonymity, to rip into others, to hurl insults and viciousness at people they have never met, and who they probably won’t ever meet.

These same people become judge, jury and executioner over the opinions of others, often belittling a view because it does not accord with theirs, because the view is not substantiated by recognised facts and “the literature”.

People judge others more unkindly because of their political preference, religious preference, and sexual preference. We have laws governing behaviour in these spheres but they don’t stop some from going to the line. They don’t stop people from being inherently nasty and bigoted.

One should be able to put a view without having to be aggressive, without having to be defensive, without fear of being belittled or defamed.

My recent experiences in the game of opinion trading, is that there are some very considered writers out there who engage with courtesy. And there are some whose access to this medium ought to be suspended.

Before entering politics I was as sensitive to criticism as the next person. Whilst there I learnt how to deal within myself with those intellectually deprived character assassins and now that I am out, I still apply those same lessons. The shame is that I have to.

I feel for those who disengage because of the louts who aggressively bully others for some sort of gratification, only they know about. Perhaps it is relevance deprivation.

In any case, I don’t care if people feel they need to belt me, because whilst they are doing it to me perhaps they are leaving others alone.

So I say to the bullies, come on! give it your best shot! If this article doesn’t apply to you, great. If it does, shame!

What’s Your opinion?


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22 Responses to
Cowards at the Keyboard
justin heywood 10:23 am 01 Dec 14

Antagonist said :

justin heywood said :

The OP makes some strong yet vague allegations. I’ve had a bit of a look at John’s previous posts – I can’t see any bullying going on at all, but perhaps his definition of bullying different to mine.

Perhaps he can give us some specific examples of where he considers he has been bullied?

Then we can compare it with some of the things he has said.

I have seen the picture that accompanies this used on RiotACT before. I would suggest it is a stock photo – not one supplied by Mr Hargreaves.

Perhaps you can show us where Mr Hargreaves has used the word bully? Otherwise your post is entirely redundant, and serves only to (rather eloquently) make his point.

Thanks for your interest as always and I’d love to spend my day discussing your point.

However my post was directed to the organ grinder.

Antagonist 9:18 am 01 Dec 14

I feel for those who disengage because of the louts who aggressively bully others for some sort of gratification, only they know about.

Found it … 🙂

Antagonist 8:54 am 01 Dec 14

justin heywood said :

The OP makes some strong yet vague allegations. I’ve had a bit of a look at John’s previous posts – I can’t see any bullying going on at all, but perhaps his definition of bullying different to mine.

Perhaps he can give us some specific examples of where he considers he has been bullied?

Then we can compare it with some of the things he has said.

I have seen the picture that accompanies this used on RiotACT before. I would suggest it is a stock photo – not one supplied by Mr Hargreaves.

Perhaps you can show us where Mr Hargreaves has used the word bully? Otherwise your post is entirely redundant, and serves only to (rather eloquently) make his point.

dungfungus 7:37 am 01 Dec 14

Who is that guy on TV who says “you need help”?

justin heywood 4:41 pm 30 Nov 14

The OP makes some strong yet vague allegations. I’ve had a bit of a look at John’s previous posts – I can’t see any bullying going on at all, but perhaps his definition of bullying different to mine.

Perhaps he can give us some specific examples of where he considers he has been bullied?

Then we can compare it with some of the things he has said.

Ben_Dover 11:09 am 30 Nov 14

Postalgeek said :

I think its safe to assume ‘Ben Dover’ is a pseudonym.

It’s not!!

It’s an instruction…

Postalgeek 10:27 am 30 Nov 14

Leon said :

Interestingly the seven people who have commented so far have all (with the possible exception of Mr. Dover) used pseudonyms, even though I for one would not have been ashamed to put my name to such considered and polite comments.

I think its safe to assume ‘Ben Dover’ is a pseudonym.

Leon 9:54 am 30 Nov 14

Interestingly the seven people who have commented so far have all (with the possible exception of Mr. Dover) used pseudonyms, even though I for one would not have been ashamed to put my name to such considered and polite comments.

rosscoact 8:59 am 30 Nov 14

All good points. I’m pretty tolerant of new media, I think it has created a form of expression that wasn’t there before and has taken away much of the power from the media barons who used to tell us how to think. However a few things have suffered.

1. Keyboard warriors abound and they use anonymity to bypass the accepted rules of etiquette that they would never do in person
2. Comprehension has dropped as people skim through what other people have written (or don’t read it at all) in their eagerness to write some more about their own point of view. There has never been a problem solved, or somebody’s opinion changed in a forum, ever.
3. For the above reasons, people with something to contribute or who are positive about life in general tend not to last long on forums such as this
4. I realise the irony in everything I have just said

Masquara 6:23 pm 29 Nov 14

I don’t accept John Hargreave’s definition of cyber-bullying: basically, anyone who disagrees with him online, even politely.

Vindalu 5:24 pm 29 Nov 14

John – I thought you were fashioned of sterner stuff! Yes, for some people their “On line life” is probably their only life and they could no more face up to (or dare I say it) shirtfront an opposing view or opinion in real life than fart in tune. They don’t belong to political parties , they don’t put themselves out for anybody, they care little for anybody but themselves and whinge and carp ad nauseum and they’re probably (expletive) liberal voters.

Ben_Dover 9:16 am 29 Nov 14

I’ve heard of shameless cyber bullies who use privileged positions within forums to harass, castigate and belittle their political opponents, safe in the knowledge that the site is moderated.

The proletariat now have an online voice, and do not use it with the charm, grace and elegance of their betters. Oh dear me, who let the plebs online to voice their stupidity!

John is quite right of course, only the well mannered and intellectual should be allowed to post, keep the riff-raff out. Vote Liberal!!

miz 8:47 am 29 Nov 14

That’s the thing about a soapbox, people will get on and say stuff!
Seriously though, anonymity is a good thing in Canberra as it is difficult for people who work for government to express their personal views without it.

braddonmonsta 8:27 am 29 Nov 14

Disagree completely.

Everyone holds views they’d rather their friends didn’t know about, from harmless but weird fetishes to more concerning discriminatory opinions.

And I’m keen to hear what these are. I don’t see any benefit from forcing people to put their reputation on the line alongside their words. In fact that’s one of society’s biggest problems – that we only listen to people if they have a reputation that precedes them.

The new challenge is for readers to selectively absorb what they read depending on their own intelligent judgment.

Rollersk8r 2:26 pm 28 Nov 14

Sounds like you never looked at this site before contributing!?! And you don’t see any irony in the above, considering the vast majority of your posts attempt to blame one side of Australian politics for all the world’s problems??

However, I agree the internet does abuse the old quote “I may not agree with what you are saying, but I’ll defend your right to say it??

Both “proper news” sites and online forums only exist to generate mouse clicks – so content has to be short, sharp and shocking to get a response. Facts and research aren’t important. The standard of journalism drops and so the do standards of comment. People feel as though their comment, amongst thousands, won’t get noticed unless they take their view to the absolute extreme.

And take ABC’s Q and A for example. It’s supposed to be a forum for the opinions of the best and brightest – except it’s dominated by smartarse Twitter comments. Again, a short, sharp and cynical Twitter comment will get more of a reaction than anything a visiting international expert will have to say.

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