Monday, July 28, 2014

Purge? WTF?! Yet another form of cyberbullying

Wow! Social media has spawned a new form of cyberbullying, and surprise, surprise, it tends to focus on females. Purge happened worldwide on Facebook between July 17 and 19, with supposedly anonymous posts saying whatever folks liked about anybody they wanted, tagging and posting images. I think it started as a promo for a new movie that was just being released, "The Purge: Anarchy." The Purge for some may have been about anarchy and fighting power, from a few posts I saw. But apparently it quickly turned into a misogynistic woman-bash, posting and trading nude images and videos. Instagram was involved in the Purge as well. The Guardian is on the story. Their story focuses on Twitter, and the use of images as "revenge porn" where exes post nude images of their former lovers on social media.

It is new enough as a term that it's hard to search for online, but you can find Instagram links and there is a Twitter hashtag #stopthepurge. I stumbled on this sad new phenomenon because a Taunton, Massachusetts 14 year old (girl, of course -- did you have to ask?) committed suicide this summer, apparently after something like a purge attack. See story here from the Patriot Ledger. There seem to be several local purge attacks that boiled along after the big Facebook one. There was a Brockton Purge, for instance (a small town south of Boston), and I found a reference to a Kansas City Purge as well.

Apparently, ex-boyfriends (ex-girlfriends, too, I suppose, though I haven't seen an example) who received nude images from women while still in a relationship take revenge by posting them after the relationship breaks up. Then they post the nude images widely, with ugly commentary. Classy move.

Too late to learn this important lesson: You are going to go through a number of relationships in your life, before you (hopefully) end in a long-term happy marriage. Don't hand out nude images to everybody you link up with along the way! You might think he's the ONE, but there is just no hurry to supply him with nude images (no matter what he says). If he is Mr. Right, he won't be badgering you for nude pix, honey!

There are a number of posts claiming different numbers of suicides, arrests, homicides connected with "The Purge." It is not clear how many, if any really happened. It is true, however, that many teen suicides have been connected to sexting, which is basically what much of the Purge harassment turned into. It's easy to say that a suicide in response to such public shaming is an over-reaction. But on the Internet, you cannot get the image back. Once it's out there, it's out of your control. And even if the first poster regrets his action and removes the post. Even if Facebook removes all the posts that can be found, these images proliferate and scatter beyond recall. That image really is out there, forever.

What a hateful, misogynistic thing.

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