Online or offline, there is no excuse for abuse Written by Brendan Mooney Psychologist
Online abuse is commonplace and becoming worse. In some cases people are committing suicide due to not coping with being abused by others and this includes not only young people but business owners, parents and professionals.
An example of online abuse is taking video footage of a person and deliberately manipulating this footage and posting it to a public platform such as Facebook or YouTube, without obtaining the consent of the person in the video. This is happening everywhere and is having a huge detrimental impact on people’s mental health much more than we tend to appreciate.
To reiterate these videos are obtained and/or shared without the person’s consent and this often has severe consequences to a person both personally and professionally.
It is clear that authors of these videos have deliberately taken out of context what was originally presented and instead shown a completely distorted view of what actually took place. As a result these videos totally misrepresent people and are clearly intended to make others look as though they are for example mentally unstable, unintelligent and/or worthy of ridicule etc.
Working as a Psychologist I know how extremely important confidentiality and privacy is, in particular when personal subjects are being discussed. It is totally unacceptable and a disgrace that such personal and intimate information is being shared publicly for all to see without consent.
Given business owners typically have frequent contact with many members of their community, these videos being publicly available are usually intended to damage the reputation of the business owner so as to diminish their long-standing relationships with people in their community.
An important note is that these videos are abusive because they misrepresent people in a way that is not true and often are clearly intended to incite ridicule and hate. I am an expert on the subject of abuse and what it means to abuse someone because I work with clients every day to address abuse in their relationships. There are many different forms of abuse and spreading misinformation about others is one of, if not the most harming. My entire working career is dedicated to cleaning up this form of abuse and all abuse occurring within our relationships and communities everywhere. These videos are produced by people who have total disregard for another’s right to personal privacy and the negative impact their actions can have on a person’s personal and professional life. These videos are deliberately designed to diminish and desecrate others in order to incite any variety of emotional reactions in others such as concern, doubt, fear, ridicule, anger and/or hatred based on distorted perceptions of what actually took place (i.e. the original event the video was created from).
Never before in history have we had access to technology that allows us to so easily and widely propagate material about someone that is either simply not true, taken out of context or deliberately tampered with to create a misconstrued message that is malicious in its intent. Obviously technology is not the issue but how we use it that determines whether it supports us to heal or harm.
We are only just beginning to see the true impact this form of abuse is having on people. Do we wait until it gets worse, and worse it will get, and then try to clean up the even greater mess we have created? Or do we act now and express that abuse is abuse irrespective of whether it occurs face-to-face or behind a computer screen, whether the person is a work colleague or an anonymous internet user etc.
An important note is that we are not naturally abusive. Hence phrases such as ‘that’s just human nature’ are actually just excuses for the apathy we have sold out to. We ought to never settle for any form of abuse just because we have a long history of it.
The fact is that abuse in our communities continue because we tend to stay silent for too long and really only address it when it becomes severe or extreme. Though the preventative approach is having a zero tolerance policy when it comes to abuse in our communities, whether online or offline, and being actively committed to addressing it in every way. With this commitment, which is simply us appreciating our true worth and our right to not be abused, we send a clear message to those who wish to do so that any form of abuse will no longer be part of our way of life as a community.
As Einstein so accurately expressed:
‘The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing’.
Hence let’s work together in appreciation of the fact that we are worth cherishing, worth honouring and worth the effort of cleaning up an online environment that has become a playground of abuse for those who wish to be irresponsible, in total disregard to the effects their harming behaviour has within a world they themselves live in.
More will be written in an upcoming series of articles on this topic. If you would like to read more be sure to subscribe to receive email updates.
BIOGRAPHY Psychologist Brendan Mooney works with adults, adolescents and children. With a genuine interest in people's well-being, Brendan brings a warmth, practicality and an equality that supports clients to truly address underlying issues and blockages that are preventing them from moving forward.