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It seems like technology is having an impact everywhere you look.  The further we move into the Information Age the more things change.  And, just as Moore’s Law delineates for computers, we are seeing those changes accelerating at what feels like an exponential rate.  I’m not an old man, but I look at the difference between the educational experience I had as a kid and what kids today have and it is amazing to me.

Heck, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I was getting the old Apple II’s set up in my mom’s classroom at St. Ann’s at the beginning of each year.

Most would argue that the changes being made are positive.  The technological advancements we are experiencing make life better for everyone.  Yes, some people benefit more than others, but when advances are made the general welfare of our society improves.  And, in many cases this is true.  Advances in medical technology has an impact on the medical system as a whole.  Improvements in the infrastructure of communication make it so more people have greater access to a greater depth and breadth of data than has ever been the case.

Of course, that is a mixed blessing.

The access to improved communication and informational infrastructures has had the unfortunate side-effect of eroding the quality of the most common sources.  We live in a wiki age, a time when everyone can contribute to the data available, whether they are qualified or unbiased is now immaterial.

But, perhaps the most disturbing new trend in tech is the concept of cyber-bullying.

Bullying has been an issue in every society and culture since the beginning of the human species.  There is simply something in the psychology of some people that makes it necessary for them to rationalize their own weaknesses by exploiting the weaknesses of others.  It is a basic fact of the human condition that is not a problem that will be solved, it simply has to be addressed as it comes up.

The problem is that there is no safe shelter anymore.  Where the victim of bullying could seek a certain amount of solace in their own home, their own room, or whatever other secret space they create for themselves, even those walls are being eroded.  With the advent of social networking, text messages, and smart phones we are an ultra-connected culture.  As a consequence the bully now has 24/7/365 access to his victim.

On most issues, I think we, as a society, have grown to coddle kids far too much.  There have been far too many news stories about teachers being told not to use red ink and the like.  I have seen it first hand out in the world.  Parents, teachers, and other caregivers, whether by choice or because of the pressures in current society, have simply stopped dealing out discipline in favor of making sure kids feel good about themselves.

However, the constant psychological assaults that are beginning to become all too frequent in this world have shown us just how ugly things can get.  We are seeing the results of these relentless attacks in the form of dead victims.  Suicide is becoming a more and more common answer to the pressure and humiliation brought on by these assaults.  Something needs to be done before this growing trend becomes a pattern of tragedy that grows beyond our ability to stop it.

technology has advanced the speed and severity of the bully, so why does it fail to do so for the support systems, prevention techniques, and legal ramifications that should be helping to blunt these attacks?


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