Re: The Police say - leave the internet
I agree, unreservedly and absolutely, that bullying, reputation sullying and mobbing are unacceptable whatever the media. I agree that the nature of Twitter, FB and the like, combined with the inadequate compromise between freedom and responsibility exercised by the proprietors and legal system, lend themselves to the worst kind of behaviour by the wost kind of people. Just read the many, vitriolic comments on such sites as The Register comments. If these people can express themselves so unpleasantly online, what sort of people are they in real life? Where is the line between this and bullying?
Perhaps my definition of "friend" differs from the current one; while online shopping, applications or information for government or other interactions are invaluable, I do not agree that "social" sites can not be avoided if one has got friends, rather the reverse. If you have got friends, the last thing you need is a "social media" site.
I have got many friends, some across the world, some around the corner, from decades long friendships to less than a year. My avoidance of Twitter or FB is far from a problem. Being friends we see each other, write letters or email, send SMS messages, ring each other - all the usual things. Most importantly, we know each others' faces, how we dress, our likes and dislikes: we do things together, see, smell, hear each other in the context of everyday, real, physical life. Online "friends" suggests to me the ghastly vision of some science-fiction distopia in which physical contact or proximity are seen as impolite, dangerous, unhealthy and disgusting.
More or less faceless contacts with "friends" who befriended one by ticking a box or having some online conversation are not friends. I've seen the results when such "friends" materialise as real people to stay overnight or simply meet - I know of one pair who got married; the rest, including one where I got directly involved as the joint host, were, shall we say, disappointing, even embarrassing.
The policeman was wrong in how he tried to suggest a strategy. But he was right in that we do not need social media to have friends. It is unfortunate; but even physical bullies can not always be overcome by reason, force or law (especially at work or school): so we do what we can to avoid the situation as a realistic, if limiting solutiôn. Using "internet" as a portmanteau term is just laziness of course.
I note that, while the internet makes bad behaviour easier, many authors, artists, performers and lecturers have been subject to anonymous bullying via letters, notes, telephone calls for decades and longer.