I was going to post something that caught my eye in an article in the Sunday Times that discusses cyber-bullying. In my version of the paper, there’s a mention of Michael McIlveen, but it doesnt appear at all in the on-line version. This is from page 13 of the Times “Even more serious abuse has taken place in Ireland. In May, Michael McIlveen, 15, was beaten to death in a sectarian gang attack after eating a pizza with a friend from a Loyalist estate. After the murder, an innocent teenager’s Bebo site was bombarded with abusive messages accusing him of complicity in the murder. One read “I hope all of you f***** sick bastards die and your bodies are left in the street so we can all walk past and jump on your heads”
I’m well aware that there are different versions of the Times here and in GB, but I didnt that that changing the stories went to such a micro level. In any case, I thought that it was quite interesting, particularly in light of all the comment the Bebo site and subsequent posts on it received here at the time.
There are 2 strong arguments in the article for and against these social network sites. Evidence is given that the sites can allow or promote this insidious type of bullying, and can create a very distressing environment for children.
The pro argument is that it provides ‘a space for teenagers to discuss things they couldnt otherwise like their sexuality or health issues.’ I dont know about other sluggers, but having grown up before the advent of computers, we managed to find a way to talk about sex.
Maybe this is an argument along the lines of Oliver J Flanagan (TD Laois/Offaly) who famously declared on the Late Late show that there had been no sex in Ireland until the television. Well, there was sex and bullying before television or radio and probably before the wheel was invented. It’s the context that keeps changing, and thats the bit we need to remember.