Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Verbal Abuse

People today are getting more verbally abusive. It can be experienced when driving your car, visiting a forum or chat room and even in comments at the end of an article on the Internet. Cell phones are all too often used in this way as well.

The Internet is a great way to abuse other people because you can use a pseudonym to hide who you are. Then the 'big bully boy' comes out in the knowledge that no one can touch them. Only moderators can limit their vitriol by deleting their entries. I'll give an example of one sort I witnessed recently, one with no moderator to help.

Several years ago I signed up at a website to play cards online with real people. Back then, I would say a 30% were very chatty, 45% politely say hello but didn't say much else, 15% were totally quite and 10% quiet but would easily get angry and abusive. I found the 10% bad enough to make me leave permanently.

I recently decided to join a site again and settled in to play. I soon noticed the difference. Probably 5% really chatty, 5% politely say hello, 60% totally quiet and 30% abusive at the slightest hint of things not going their way. The abuse used to be "Why did you do that?" followed by a blunt criticism of the action. Now it simply starts with an expletive (incorrectly spelt to avoid detection I assume) followed by an insult such as moron or idiot.

I raise this because of an incident in particular. One player made what I thought were poor decisions and then introduced insults at the partner when things went wrong. After the tirade, the abuser left the game. I said to the recipient how I saw it, reassuring them they weren't the problem. They thanked me and said that each table they went to that day, they had a bad run with such behaviour. They expressed they were fed up with the treatment and were going to leave altogether, something I have decides to do also.

It could be argued they the percentages above are not representative of all people. Nicer people would be more likely to be put off by this and stop going, while the verbal bullies would continue doing the rounds and venting their rage. In the process they would become more common.

That is true, but it's the swing in numbers from a previous identical site that is disturbing. I also noticed a trend that the ones not being abused at the table never stepped in to correct the abuser, whereas before were more likely. I decided to step in to express my dislike of their aggressive attitude and they generally just left. When I was the one upsetting my playing partner and being insulted, I never received any back up. Perhaps that enormous silent majority have become hardened to such behaviour or maybe were too busy texting to notice or care.

Whenever abuse of any kind is going on, doing nothing isn't acceptable. I wasn't putting myself in any danger coming to the aid of a victim online. The lack of action by virtually everyone gave the abuser licence to act. I found that lack of intervention as disturbing as the abuse itself. No wonder abuse is an integral part of society. It's tolerated by too many, and increasingly so. Food for thought.

PS. There are many forms of abuse through media today. This just touched on one type, which is easy enough to avoid by not going there. Some isn't so easily avoidable and for any who are suffering from this sort of behaviour, talk to someone about it. Don't suffer in silence.

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