Recently, there was a big kerfluffle on Facebook regarding one person libeling another, or rather an entire group of others. Now, I am personally familiar with several of this person's victims, and none of them deserve the crap spewed in their direction. Indeed, the person in question crossed the line into libel (written defamation) by blogging some horrible lies and unwarranted, untrue accusations about an m/m writer I know.
Here's the thing: some people seek fame by working hard on their craft, doing the work, taking the risk, and so forth.
Others take another, far less noble road. They are viciously hateful, tearing down others in their profession, vomiting lies, all for the sole purpose of generating a buzz. It's not fame they seek, but infamy.
For all the wonders of the Internet, including the ease of reaching so many people so quickly, it is a platform perfectly designed for bullies to flourish. The built-in anonymity of blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook, frees bullies to be as vitriolic as they wish without much fear of reprisal, and to spread their hate to far more people than otherwise possible, all with a few keystrokes and mouse-clicks.
Cyberbullying can be even more hurtful than ordinary bullying because it's done on a world-wide scale. Gossip at the watercooler will only embarrass someone in the immediate vacinity; blog the same lies and the victim can be shamed globally.
The permanence of the Internet also works for bullies. Back at the watercooler, when something more interesting comes along, gossip dies and is forgotten, but nothing is ever completely gone once it is put online. It can come back to haunt you years later, because even if the original post is deleted, it probably still exists somewhere in one form or another.
Something needs to be done about people who use social networks and blogs to bully and defame. As a writer, I'm all for free speech, but there is a difference between stating your opinion and tainting someone's reputation with malicious lies, and perhaps injuring their career.
Well, okay. I said what I needed to say. I'm going to pick up my soapbox before somebody trips on it, and call it a day.