An article in The Atlantic called “How To Stop Bullies” caught my attention this week with a MIT professor’s insight on cyber-bullying. Cyber-bullying, has been described as a “new” kind of bullying using technology and including things like hurtful emails, texts, and embarrassing pictures or fake profiles. While the medium that bullies are using to spread messages of hurt and hate may be new, the messages are not, explains Henry Liberman. Using software designed to filter negative and offensive content by looking for key words in postings, he and his team discovered that 95% of bullying comments fall into 6 categories, post after post. Ready for them?
- Perceived acceptance or rejection
Humans have essentially been using the same kinds of insults since we came up with cave paintings. In fact, in the past few years archaeologists have discovered that the ancient city of Pompeii is covered in graffiti. Call it the Twitter of antiquity. And our austere Roman forbearers weren’t all debating the merits of democracy and coming up with epigraphs. Here’s a few of my favorite messages (and their English translations).
“Phileros is a eunuch.”
“OPPI, EMBOLIARI, FUR, FURUNCLE.”
“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”
EPAPHRA, GLABER ES.”
“Epaphra, you are bald.”
Look around the web and you’ll find even more examples that would put a modern-day truck stop bathroom to shame. Amazingly, long after Pompeii was buried beneath lava, the Roman Empire was decimated by Huns and the original Latin ceased to be used, these words have been discovered, translated and analyzed. I wonder—if your tweets, posts and blogs were discovered 500 or even 50 years from now–what future researchers would say about you. Would your online persona reflect a more modern, enlightened being or a tech-savvy caveman, trading in his chisel for a keyboard?
Looking at the lasting effect of words, whether they are carved into a wall or posted in a digital space, I hope we can join together in a conscious evolutionary leap forward. Can we begin to litter social media with positivity, encouragement and kindness? Imagine what would happen if we did.