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Cyber-bullying to Cyber-benevolence

With cyber-bullying on the rise, can kindness be spread through social networking? Teens are proving the internet can be used to spread love rather than hate with the "Facebook compliments" movement.

 

Anonymity is a powerful thing.

In any situation in which an individual's identity is not disclosed, they inevitably have far more confidence knowing that they will not be judged on a personal level for their actions. That confidence, however, can often give a person more incentive to attack others. Now, with social networking usage at an all-time high and technology advancing at a remarkable pace, cyber-bullying is on the rise, especially in the high school age group. In fact, according to statistics from the i-SAFE foundation, over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have participated in the bullying.

This overwhelming flood of negativity has given teenagers a poor reputation when it comes to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Recently, however, high school students have been using the ability to be anonymous on the internet in a positive way. Students from hundreds of schools across the nation have been creating Facebook accounts dedicated to complimenting their peers - all anonymously.

Inspired by "Pay It Forward," a movie that promotes being kind to others, the "Facebook compliments" movement took off when four students at Queens University in Ontario, Canada started a Facebook page dedicated to complimenting their peers. Students wrote compliments to their peers in private messages to the Facebook account, which were posted as anonymous words of kindness. A staggering 1,500 comments were submitted in four days, out of which only about four or five were unkind. 

This "cyber-graciousness" has spread to Connecticut as well; countless schools from well-known Yale University to the small Old Saybrook High School have pages on Facebook to carry on the movement of anonymous kindness.

"I added OSHS Compliments wondering what it was since almost 100 of my Facebook friends were friends with the page," says Lillian Bonin, a sophomore at Old Saybrook High School. She received an anonymous compliment through the Facebook page shortly after discovering it. "I didn't expect to get a compliment so quickly, especially one that addressed some of my insecurities. It made me feel really loved and accepted."

Movements like this have proven that social networking and anonymity on the internet doesn't just spread hate - love can be spread anonymously too. However, the message of kindness doesn't have to stop when you leave your computer. Encourage others to participate in the "Pay It Forward" movement by doing good deeds, no matter how small. Establish a personal goal of making someone smile every day. Tell someone that you love them. As cliché as it may sound, you'll be surprised by how much simple actions like these will improve not only the quality of your own life, but also brighten the lives of others.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

unknownauthor January 15, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Thank you so much, Joannie! I really appreciate the comment. I'm so glad you like the article. I hope this trend will catch on as well; I know it's been making my high school a much more positive place and I really hope that positivity will spread to other schools as well. Thanks again for the comment; it made my night. :) -Cassie
James Bond January 15, 2013 at 01:52 AM
Thomas has invented a new bullying,Self Rightous Bible Bullying.
Thomas January 15, 2013 at 02:38 AM
This Thomas does not agree with that Thomas. That church is a bona fide cult and anyone who references their doctrine as gospel needs to be evaluated.
tina chofay January 16, 2013 at 04:08 AM
Cassie, I am so impressed with both the quality of your writing and the quality of your thoughts on this topic. I agree with you that positive deeds and actions are the way to change the world. Your article reminded me of a quote by Mother Theresa "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there." Keep up the good work! Your old neighbor, Tina C.
unknownauthor January 16, 2013 at 06:55 PM
Tina, Thank you so much! It's so great to hear from you. This comment made my day; I really appreciate it. :) I absolutely love the Mother Theresa quote; it's one of my favorites. Thanks again for the comment! I'm so happy you like the article! -Cassie

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