May 24, 2012
By Allyson Fontaine BRONZE, Nashville, Tennessee
Allyson Fontaine BRONZE, Nashville, Tennessee
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

No one loves you, you know.

Your family would be better off without you.

Kill yourself.

...all things I've seen said anonymously over the Internet.
As a member of the "digital age," I've had the opportunity to reap the benefits of modern technology, but I've also seen firsthand some of its blatant shortcomings. The newfound anonymity that technology and social networking sites like Facebook and Tumblr have provided can be truly terrifying; their “honesty box” and “ask box,” respectively, enable users to say whatever they like to another person without fear of being revealed. In the time I've spent on these sites, I've not only witnessed harsh words doled out to strangers, I've comforted friends who have been victimized and even received a few comments myself. The truth is, today’s society is rapidly changing. Tools unheard of sixty years ago are now common, and it appears that most are on the fence about how to handle that, debating on whether technology is necessary and effective or a force that has ruined certain and more agreeable aspects of society. At the very least, it’s allowed people to act in quite a different way.
I chose to write about this particular topic because it affects me. It matters to me. I've seen girls barely scraping sixteen who struggle with depression, eating disorders, and abuse targeted and torn down by people who simply have nothing better to do or consider it "funny." It infuriates me that anyone believes they have a right to do this, to target another person in such a way as to actually tell them to take their own life just because they have the option to click “anonymous." With the recent onslaught of technology, this issue has become exceedingly urgent. It has already caused too many deaths, such as those of Ryan Halligan or Megan Meier. Sometimes I wonder if there is no sanctuary from such hatred; after all, Meier was driven to suicide by a neighbor.
However, during the past years where I’ve spent admittedly too much time on the Internet, for every person I’ve seen cause tears, five people have rushed in to dry them. Clearly, I'm not the only one angry over this outpouring of “anon hate,” and I am grateful to the others I see that refuse to allow it. While the wounds caused by malicious words may remain, the following assurances of friendship come to the aid.
Of course, it’s not set in stone what effect technology will ultimately have as it continues to advance. It may have already allowed some to act brutally, but I have faith that others will continue to use it as a device for spreading kindness and camaraderie where they can. Personally, I have joined an online support network called Compassion Alert as a responder to provide help to those attacked by anonymous words, and I encourage others to do something similar. After all, we are the digital generation. We can either contribute to this, or we can stop it.

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