With great power comes great responsibility, and never is this more important than in the digital age. The global proliferation of social media has opened up new opportunities but also, alas, new means of harassment.
Take cyberbullying, a.k.a. the plague of the 21st century. Its crucial element is the anonymity of the crime. One can subject its audience to aggressive pressure or intimidation repeatedly while remaining unidentified. Ambiguous laws and rapid developments in information and communication technology devices increase the likelihood that the perpetrator will evade punishment altogether. This lack of responsibility goes a long way to remove all inhibitions in a cyberbulling.
The inconspicuousness of online interactions strips away many aspects of socially accepted roles. Thus, the Internet turns into a potential equalizer for aggressive acts that due to the Internet's global nature, can be committed anywhere and anytime.
We also need to take into account the phenomenon of “digital bystanders.” Unlike with incidents of “traditional”, offline bullying, bystanders' (witnesses') decision on how and whether to react to the injustice is not public and doesn't force them to bear the consequences of their attitude. Sometimes, people who witness online bullying choose to remain indifferent. But more often that not, enticed by the anonymity, they join in.
Cyberbullying bears significant implications. In underage victims, it has been linked to lower academic achievement, anxiety, depression, even suicide. In adults, cybervictimization experiences often result in paranoia, phobic anxiety and psychoticism. And unfortunately, for now, with virtually no coherent legislations or official prevention programs, it is entirely up to us to take a stand against cyberbullying.