Listen to the Teens here: Stop @Bullying me

These last days, I have been illumined by reading Boyd, Donah’s research : ” It’s Complicated: The Social Lives Networked Teens” (Boyd: 2014).  In my view, Boyd  brought  a substantial contribution to some questions that still matter today, especially  to what ought to be done as regards to cyber-bullying. Let us her words sink: “Social Media has not radically altered the dynamics of bullying, but has made these dynamics more visible to more people. We must use this visibility, not to justify increased punishment, but to help youth who are actually crying out for attention (…) Recognising where teens are at and why they engage in particular acts of meanness and cruelty is important to creating intervention that works.” Boyd’s appeal stands out today in different situations.

Few days ago, I followed an online situation in Rwanda, where a teenage gird, (18 years) published her nude photos. In Rwandan culture, not only  is it  forbidden to be naked in a public place but also it seems awkward to talk of one’s  nudity. The teenage decided to show herself  in the costume of Eve on her account of Instagram and on Facebook. When she was asked why why she decided to do so, she replied.”We are asked  to create jobs, I have found mine, and I will make much money with this job. This is about aesthetic creativity, beauty and fashion. Let me do this bloody cash.” This is one her post:

And no one is asked to enter my private account. Mind your problem if you think that it is a problem to be naked. Do not you see famous singer naked online! Why not me. She mentioned.  Many people including diplomatic bodies said that she must be mentally sick, that she need to be taken to a psychiatric center. The more they shouted at her. The more she disseminated her nudity. It seems, as Boyd mentioned, the lady wanted at the same time make a drama but also to be recognised. Later on,  she was however arrested and in a way coerced to  erase her social media accounts. 

Would this be a case of cyber-bullying, the trigger is visible. But the question is? How do adults correct the young ones? is bullying them online the best answer?In a way, it provoked cyber-bullers. There were for sure power-imbalance in correcting this Rwandan lady. And I do not think online platform was the correct one to redress her.Yes, it is complicated as Boyd Donah said. But I think  to address Cyberbullying has to start from education. Educators, policymakers and parents need to work together to address cyberbullying. Legislation need to be put into place for the cyber-buller be identified and in case of offense, be corrected.  Still teen cannot be left ought as if everything is permitted. Need is to teach them that online platform is a real space, where one’s gesture, acts and note could affect the worldwide users. Teens need to grow up with that mindset, and pose with an awareness of the underlying effects on people.Coming back to the case of the  Rwandan girl, the case, in my opinion, reveals  what a considerable number of  young people may be experiencing. They are crying out of rejection, of  broken society  wounded families.  The teens and the young ones come online because there is something  they are thirsty of , something quite missing or lacking in the our post modern society. They are also in search of something exciting, something that reply their deeper longing.  They are also searching  for recognition, for attention, for  a more  humane warmth. On internet, they could find all these things intermingled. I think these values, among many others inscribed in our human global family have to be promoted, sustained and showered toward the teens. To prevent cyberbullying, we need above all to  create an empathetic and open heart, a caring hand  toward them. We need seize opportunities of spending time with them, help them discover the tangible world around them, and most importantly, listen, listen, listen and valorise them.  
The modern society needs to revisit humanistic values of conversation and dialogue. There is need to build communities of mutual care, in which social media could rightly be used as a means, but not  an end.

– Boyd, Donah, ” It is Complicated: The Social Lives Networked Teens (1st Edition). New Haven: Yale University.- http://www.ungei.org/global_status_on_school_violence(1).pdf

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