“Respect & empathy in social media” (May 2020)

The concept of human dignity is the greatest achievement in the cultural history of mankind & established in the Preamble of the UN Charta of Human Rights. It means to consider humans as subjects sharing a mutual dignity that grants them the right to be respected.Humiliating or denigrating another person means failing to acknowledge his integrity as a subjective entity. The ongoing development of media society in which digital interaction predominates has broadened the area in which human conflicts unfold. Cybermobbing, ‘shitstorms’ & bashing are among the violent deeds committed in online media. What all forms of online violence have in common, is that they damage the integrity of a person & his social standing in the real world.This is in contradiction to the fundamental principle of dignity in our society.Such violent acts severely restrict those affected by them from living out their lives successfully. Young people need to be empowered to form moral judgments & to act ethically in everyday situations related to embarrassment & humiliation in social media.This activity provides an ‘ethical compass’ along with incentives for value-oriented behavior. The aim is to acquire digital competency in dealing with conflicts.Therefore it is important to raise awareness of vulnerability. Questions for reflection are:

  • In which ways can human beings be hurt? types of cybermobbing: spreading rumours, rejection, insult, assuming a false identity, publication of private information, etc.
  • What are the reasons for hurting somebody? social dislocation, own inferiority, etc.
  • What makes cybermobbing more serious than mobbing? time & space: harassment doesn’t come to end when the school ends. It reaches into the most sheltered spot, including home. Effect: consequences of violent acts remain unseen. Online bullies can’t perceive directly how they injure victims.
    Dynamics: media content spreads quickly with almost no limitation on sharing. Permanence: Internet doesn’t forget. Old content crops up again difficult to get a fresh start. Anonymity: bullies cannot be identified. This causes anxiety & insecurity. Publicity: unlimited audience
  • What can be the political purpose of ‘shitstorms’, ’bashing’, ’trolling’? increasing populism, extremism, homophobie, racism, sexism, etc.
  • What is th role of ‘bystanders’ in conflicts? “bystander effect”-decreasing feeling of individual responsibility, lack of courage to provide help, etc.
  • “What is moral courage on the net? Our target: understand the perspective of others & comprehend the situation of people under attack: “I feel, therefore I am.” (training in empathy, mindfulness & civil courage.)

This activity leads to a “netiquette” and will be presented in “exlanatory clips” created with the help of media experts specialised in audiovisuel media & ‘netiquette’. The clips will be used during trainings with younger
students who will become respectful & responsible user of social media.