The little girl groans inwardly as she drags steel – like legs towards the dreaded school gate. With each step that she takes, her heartbeat accelerates as her mind replays the turmoil that she has been experiencing over the past couple of days at the hands of belligerent playground bullies who had made it their life’s vocation to traumatize her every waking hour. Spying a bevy of other little girls from her class entering the gates, she makes a hasty dash forwards and allows herself to blend in with them before her solitary figure attracts unwanted attention from the vultures she has been hiding from. Like a refuge she spends the rest of the day. Hiding. Role-playing Tom and Jerry. Yearning. Daydreaming about the temporary solace to be found at the days end on the other side- the side farthest from school.
There are thousands of little girls going through a similar cycle of hurt, pain and fear as the little girl above. Waking up each morning and dreading the moment when they will have to face the world. Held ransom by selfish beings who prey on weaker human beings for their own intentions. And sadly now with the advent of technology, the school playground has become so much bigger. The weapons of destruction so much better. And now the playground bully can definitely rub his hands in satisfaction with a cocky smile on his face because there are definitely “plenty more fish in the sea” as his prey can now come in all shapes, size, gender and geographical location.
Technology has made us so much more accessible, information can be easily and cheaply passed around. Communication has become easier. The creative of this world have an abundance of footage with which to play around and produce memes, videos, jokes, etc. to amuse an ever expectant audience. Great right? No, not so great when jokes can be made at your expense. When your most embarrassing moments can easily go viral. When false allegations can be made against an individual, published and communicated to the world as in the case of model Tafadzwa Mushunje. A young woman who has gone through unimaginable suffering at the hands of malicious individuals who spread what have been proved to be false allegations against her. Tafadzwa, a 24 year old Zimbabwean model was apprehended and accused of injecting her lovers 3 year old son with her HIV infected blood, physically assaulting him and forcing him to drink her urine. These allegations were based on information obtained from an unknown source that were published as factual first hand information on a local website. Hundreds if not thousands of people assisted in making hers a living nightmare as the story spread like veld fire on social media and harassment, judgement and ridicule came from all angles. Her name has since been cleared after HIV test results of her and her lovers’ child came back negative. But as she celebrates her victory, I can’t help but wonder, what would have been her fate had she been found HIV positive?
When you really think about it, we as a society are still a long way from being exonerated from our social media sins. Thousands of lives have been destroyed through scandalous emails, texts, Images etc. being passed from one individual to the other and its’ time that we become more “cyber-savvy”. By this I mean that it’s high time our societies are taught how to use the internet wisely. Not only is a bully found in the playground preying on minors, but can also be found anywhere and can prey on adults too. It’s time people come together and unite against cyber- bullying and prevent the further perpetration of such crimes. In the same manner that adults strive to protect their children from bullying at schools, they should also protect each other on all social networks.