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The blurred lines between bullying and standing up for others

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Opinions

Have netizens overstepped their boundaries in the recent cabby viral video?

Singapore's social media has once again been dominated by a video which featured a taxi driver who was subjected to verbal bullying by a rude passenger. Needless to say, the disrespect shown to the driver in the video evoked sympathy and outrage among netizens. Alongside the tremendous support shown to the taxi driver's family was a fair share of vicious comments and death threats as well. While some may deem such anger as a justifiable act, it seems to me that the netizens have overstepped the line in this case, making them no less than cyber bullies.

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RUTHLESS COMMENTS ON THE VIDEO PAGE
PHOTO CREDITS: FACEBOOK.COM

What followed these brutal comments were likes and more likes. 

The leak of the passenger's personal details, which included his address, mobile number, workplace and even social media accounts, snatched away the passenger's privacy rights and exposed him to the world. Of course, there was no lack of comments regarding these extra bits of juicy personal details. 

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 RESPONSES OF USERS UPON THE RELEASE OF THE PASSENGER'S PERSONAL DETAILS
PHOTO CREDITS: FORUMS.HARDWAREZONE.COM.SG

While some netizens may argue that this ill-mannered passenger deserved this humiliation, there is a fine line between standing up for others and cyberbullying.

Within the anonymity of cyberspace, we have the power to shame an ordinary citizen on the internet. However, before we all get too excited about this intoxicating power, we should not forget that this passenger is a human being just like us and is someone who has family and loved ones as well.

Carlton Tan, a writer for Asian Correspondent, further justifies my point. He said: "He (passenger) deserves justice, but we should give him grace, if only because whenever we try to mete out mob justice, it is so often horribly imperfect."

In fact, this is not the first time we Singaporeans have thoroughly humiliated people on the Internet. One instance revolved around the infamous Jover Chew saga in Sim Lim Square last year. Following the release of his photos and address on the Internet, the situation had forced Chew to move out of his home, which seemingly made his living condition nothing less than a refugee. Has it ever occurred to us that we have just turned a perpetrator into a victim of cyberbullying?

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ONE OF THE MANY INSULTS OF JOVER CHEW ON THE NET
PHOTO CREDIT: MOTHERSHIP.SG

Why are we outraged regarding these matters? Does this outrage stem from our own social conscience, which in turn is shaped by our moral values? One could conclude that we sympathise with the taxi driver in this case, as our strong family values causes us to empathise with the daughter who had her dad verbally abused. However, there are times where we react to viral situations not because of sympathy but more out of our personal interest to voice out our opinions. One such example is the recent blogger war between Xiaxue and Eunice Annabel regarding a caption which the latter mentioned in one of her Instagram's post. Xiaxue indirectly retaliated this statement with a view of her own and this led to a massive number of hate comments flooding Eunice Annabel's Instagram page. While netizens believe that the cyberspace protects us with anonymity and that we will not receive any consequences for our comments, we seem to have forgotten that our brutal comments may inflict harm on the parties involved. 

Social media is undoubtedly a platform for netizens to exact their power to turn an unknown person into a hero or a villain overnight. With the daughter's willingness to forgive the passenger, should we not try and forgive him too? Maybe it is high time we think not once, not twice, but thrice before reacting to a situation.

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  • Tags: Opinions