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Is it getting better?

A number of months ago moya.watson shared with me her plans to launch an SAP version of the “It Gets Better” Project  “a worldwide movement, inspiring more than 50,000 user-created videos viewed more than 50 million times”  encouraging young people to reach out to get help if they are experiencing bullying and rejection.   Moya spearheaded and fore fronted the SAP film submission to the project featuring the heart-rending and moving experiences of SAP employees  and she has worked tirelessly with many of her colleagues to galvanize support, feedback and spread awareness of the tragic results of adolescents who are bullied, taunted  and even tortured for simply being themselves. 

When bullying is done online, it is called Cyberbullying .  Many of us think of Cyberbullying as something perpetrated on children, teens and youth (as in the tragic case this past week of  Amanda Todd ) but the term Cyberbullying has come to include adult behavior as well.

(from Wikipedia)

“Examples of what constitutes cyberbullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harm another. Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council: “when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person”

With the launch of the new SCN platform, I’d been tasked to rework the “Rules Of Engagement”. While it may seem unrelated, I found myself thinking about instances of online bullying and how to address and incorporate some form of warning and guidance around what I have observed and on occasion needed removed from community posts: namely language that discriminates or defames.  If you are puzzled as to how such conduct sneaks in under the radar, or ever finds its way to SCN, you’ll need to think  or perhaps rethink the following set of examples of bully behavior.

Is there Cyberbullying in our backyard?

Sometimes it starts very benignly with one set of people poking “fun” at the vernacular or language colloquialisms of another particular group.  I’ve been witnessing this over the years even here on SCN.  What I also observed is that often, the very people who are being taunted, will make disparaging remarks about themselves or join in poking “fun” of their own vernacular .  Studies of cyberbullying show that self-denigrating remarks can be as damaging to self-concept or self-esteem as those posed by others.  And in research a correlation has found between cyber-bullying and a lower self-concept, just as there is a proven correlation between traditional bullying and self-esteem.

This week we witnessed an unpleasant interchange in the social channels of twitter, where, as vijay.vijayasankar pointed out, an unfair assessment was made of people’s reputations.  A group of contributors to the community were referred to as “no names”.  Repeating the denigrating comments made by others, in my mind is as hurtful and damaging as initiating them.   Quoting “others” as being first source of such derogatory reference is not a reasonable alibi or an excuse for untoward behavior.

Such behavior is behavior that should not be modeled or left unchecked or tolerated.  Let’s work together to root out the places where we allow any kind of victimization, whether or not the victims request aid or not.  Often, the victim is too paralyzed or perhaps even fears repercussions.  Let’s work to keep our environment safe for all.  Guaranteeing social health and well-being should be one of our charters.


It is humiliating and inappropriate to regard a group of people as “no names” and as, with children, when people hear such aspersions enough times, those declarations have the potential to have deleterious effect on one’s self-worth or self concept.

Such comments, no matter where they originate from, have absolutely no place in our community or its extended social media channels.

This week saw me thinking and speaking a great deal about empathy in the workplace and also had me seeing empathy as a distinguishing business practice.

I think if we all examined ourselves and our verbal communication, we would uncover instances of inadvertent and  perhaps even conscious examples of online abasement.

Empathy to the rescue

Rather than end on that dour note,  I’d like to add some rays of hope that “practicing empathy” to ourselves first and foremost might give us access into insights about ourselves that could inform us about: what makes us (and by extension) others run and what kind of behaviors causes breakdowns in communication and damage.

I’m thrilled that SAP is giving this topic such exposure at the upcoming SAP TechEds. http://TechEd2012.sapevents.com/sessions?sf=863

Goodnight and goodluck.