Faceless bullies thriven in cyberspace
‘Faceless Bullies Thriven in Cyberspace’ by Dvir Abramovich is an opinion piece published in the Herald Sun on 20 April 2007. Blunt and direct in tone, the article leaves us under no misapprehension as to the writer’s position: the internet is providing safe haven for bullies with devastating consequences.
Emphasising through repetition the vulnerability of the individual to this sort of intimidation – anyone, at any time, can be exposed to it – Abramovich makes the warning even more emphatic through the cluster of violent verbs, ‘harass’, ‘intimidate’ and ‘humiliate’. As the bullies ‘thrive’ so the defamation they are responsible for spreads ‘like wildfire’. This simile evokes a sense of something out of control, as does listing the everyday forms of technology by which the ‘wildfire’ can spread to ‘denigrate’ and threaten. The language is powerful and the assertion that bullying is no longer relegated to the playground reminds us all that we are now in entirely new and dangerous territory.
Any possibility that there is some vestige of doubt in the reader is removed – if you ‘still’ believe, then ‘think again’ warns the writer – and we are immediately presented with the all-too-human example of Ryan Halligan. Three short pointed sentences attract our attention and dramatise Ryan’s fate: by the end of the example that follow Ryan’s are delivered in quick succession, providing plausible and compelling scenarios of what can easily happen to any teenager.
The argument shifts in the second half from the global problem of Cyber bullying to a specifically Australian context, thus placing the issue is our own backyard and increasing the relevance of the issue to us. Statistics are used to convince us of the enormity of the problem; the numbers increase in magnitude, building to a peak when it is revealed that nearly half of all female adolescents have been harassed via SMS. This