"Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me"
There have been times when words have hurt me.
My tongue can deliver a verbal punch with the right provocation - or sometimes just because I'm a cunt and I can. I'm well aware that I can do far more damage with my mouth then I ever could with my fists.
Although nothing beats a well placed brick for instant damage, physical injuries will heal but words that hit the right (or wrong) nerve can stay with you for a very long time.
I've seen plenty of arguments in internet chat rooms and forums, often it's people just resorting to swearing and hurling insults at each other but sometimes that shit can get really nasty. People tend to open up to strangers about secrets they might keep from real world friends, or blog about truly personal stuff, and if your online opponent is aware then that might get brought into the fight.
I saw an example of this the other night, no doubt some of you reading will know which incident I'm talking about. It's not for me to comment on who was right or wrong, it just got me thinking about one of the rules I used to apply when working with kids in regard to sharing personal information.
Divulge as little or as much as you feel comfortable to say - but you should always be aware that anything you tell them might get thrown back in your face.
Being armed with the facts can hurt more then a kick in the bollocks.
One of the staff I worked with had a son who was in hospital and he told the boys in the home, to explain why he seemed a bit offsorts and needed to keep his personal phone on him at all times. The first time he pissed one of the lads off after that the boy said " I hope your fucking kid dies".
The impact of that was awful, obviously the recipient could not retaliate in the situation but he said if that was someone other then a kid at work he would've punched them.
I doubt very much whether any of the people involved in the forum incident were affected to any extent by what was said, they're all adults and familiar with what happens there. I would not be surprised to hear that they were now laughing about it, or at each other since all of them no doubt realise that it's just the internet, words on a screen, and unimportant.
Some people, myself included, quite enjoy the banter, piss taking and debate - even when things get heated. But I can give as good as I get.
I have encountered people that I dislike in forums, but as long as they leave me alone I'll ignore them. I find it easy, but then I realise that although things they say might grate on me for whatever reason IT'S JUST THE FUCKING INTERNET.
Not the case for everyone.
There are some pretty vulnerable people out there who will take things said online very much to heart. Sometimes those who for whatever reason find it hard to integrate and socialise in the real world think they have found an outlet for their feelings and see the 'friendships' they make online as being very real.
I'm not saying that friendships forged online are fake, I have made a few good friends myself and I absolutely intend to meet up with some of them. But I am an adult (sort of) with common sense, in control of my emotions and issues, and even though I spend a fair bit of time online I also have a good life and friends in the real world.
The internet is my escape from reality not my window into it.
Some people should probably stay away from chat forums for the sake of their own sanity. Of course they won't - they think their needs are being met, and I suppose to some degree they are, but in many ways it is kind of fake. That's fine as long as you recognise that, but when it is your only social outlet or your means of seeking help for your lost soul then I think you're asking for trouble and likely gonna get it.
Controversy lovers can spot weakness a mile off, even in cyber space, and attention seekers are usually fair game too. And if someone is the type who will get easily hurt and upset by something said it won't matter how many people jump to their defence the damage will of been done.
If you get into a disagreement, attract the attention of a troll or just can't handle negativity then your cyber house of cards is liable to come crashing down, and if you have no real world support network where does that leave you ?
Crying into your keyboard.
And electrocuting yourself.
Of course the nerd who couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag in real life might just find himself in the position of power when it comes to an online war of words.
Intelligence, the ability to string a coherent sentence together, and the knack of insulting someone in a clever humorous way might not be any use in the playground against the school bully but when your weapon is the written word it put's you at an advantage.
In a cyber playground the bullies are still there.
Some people might hide behind a screen but others expose themselves too much. A lot of people find chatting online and blogging about personal things very cathartic.
But not all of them are able to cope with the consequences.