Online media: a modern scapegoat

Cyber BullyDuring one of my many drives between the Lower Mainland and Sun Peaks, I was half listening to the radio, when a discussion on the “root causes” of bullying came on. That got my attention — I wanted to hear what a number of radio personalities would blame for bullying, and it wasn’t surprising to hear them say violence in online media, especially gaming, was causing children to become bullies.

Upon further examination, this view can be seen for the fabrication it is. There have been bullies long before there was any digital media, and there are bullies in all parts of life. It doesn’t take digital media to forge a domineering and abusive personality. No number of soft spoken family or friends, and no amount of social engineering will remove such attitudes and personalities from society. This is the reality we face: some people are not model citizens, and some are problematic from a very young age. Nothing is necessary to cause them to be this way, but rather it’s the natural state of some few.

As with so many other issues, these radio personalities sought to find an object of blame for this particular woe of society. Preferably, that scapegoat is something they already dislike. Such objects fit well within one’s personal narrative, as it’s easy to see the problems of society as caused by the things we don’t like.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder online media is also the subject of blame and derision among some radio and television commentators. How could they not come to find fault with the new medium that’s swiftly been eating away their market, reducing their opportunity for fame and fortune? Should it come as a surprise the very people whose careers are in competition with online media find it to be an object of blame?

Some people — youths or otherwise — will behave badly, irrespective of the media they consume. It’s time we cease blaming the actions of people, like bullying, on anything but the person committing the act. To use a scapegoat is to detach responsibility from the person. It’s never positive for someone to think they’re somehow not responsible for their own actions, since if one isn’t responsible for their own actions, they’ll do whatever they want, often times ignorantly believing they’ll avoid consequences.

Instead of seeking scapegoats, let’s take responsibility for our own actions.