Yogyakarta, February 18th, 2020 - With growing rate of interactions in the digital space, the spread of negative content becomes an important issue to be concerned. According to the Indonesian Ministry of ICT, there are six types of negative content in the digital space, and one of them is cyberbullying-related content. To delve more about the phenomenon of cyberbullying, Center for Digital Society (CfDS) held its 19th series of Difussion in Antologi Collaborative Space Yogyakarta, on Tuesday (18/02). The discussion was not only led by researchers from CfDS, Anaq Duanaiko and Perdana Karim, but this event also invited an avid observer of cyberbullying phenomenom, Kurnia Yohana Yulianti, who also serves as a lecturer in the Faculty of Psychology, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM).
Understanding the Basics of Cyberbullying
Opening the first session, Anaq Duanaiko as Project Officer of CfDS’ research division explained about the basic things that must be understood from the phenomenon of cyberbullying. There are several things that characterize the background of any cyberbullying activities, namely the power imbalance between the bully and the victim; the intention to hurt others; and the repetition pattern of the cyberbullying activity. Cyberbullying can also occur when someone has a specific standard in seeing how someone ‘should’ looks or imaged themselves in the digital space. As a result, someone is bullying in digital space because they see the existence of other people who do not comply with their 'standard' image in the digital space. This tendency also caused by social media users’ thinking to see other users as an object, whereas other users are also subject who have feelings and emotions. "With this kind of thinking, it is generally accepted that many social media users are competing to adjust to the 'standards' in social media," Anaq said.
The Normalization of ‘Victim-blaming’ in Cyberbullying Cases
‘Victim-blaming’ or the tendency to blame the victim, is often normalized in various cases of cyberbullying. Perdana Karim as a CfDS research assistant, revealed that there are two underlying factors that trigger the 'victim-blaming' phenomenon in the case of cyberbullying. First, there is no clear consensus on the definition of cyberbullying itself. "Some people can consider one thing as a joke and not a cyberbullying case, but there are those who consider it as a form of cyberbullying because it causes a direct negative impact on the target of the cyberbullying," Karim said. Secondly, the existence of ‘victim-blaming’ is also motivated by the human tendency to not see the moral error of a matter, just because the society has usually done that. This tendency that emerges from the 'moral disengagement theory' from sociology, also has an impact on the exclusion of people who seek help when they experience bullying, or even on those who want to help the bullying victims. Therefore, Karim also stressed the importance of digital literacy for social media users, so that social media users understand their responsibilities for any information and comments that they upload on social media.
Cyberbullying from Psychological Perspective
Kurnia Yohana began the last session by explaining the characteristics that underlie cyberbullying phenomenon. Kurnia added that besides including the three characteristics that had been explained in the first session, in the case of cyberbullying, we should also consider the anonymity factor; factors that differentiate cyberbullying case with traditional bullying that occurs in the real world. This factor is important to consider, because there are different personas that people are trying to project between the real world and the virtual world. In a study conducted by Kurnia on cyberbullying, Kurnia found an interesting finding, where the bully usually has good social skills, while the target or victim of the bullying doesn’t necessarily possess the sufficient social skills. At the end of her presentation, Kurnia also explained about 4 aspects of the ‘moral disengagement theory’, which can be found in cases of cyberbullying. "First, ‘cognitive restructuring 'or the assumption that bullying is a natural thing to happen. Second, the ‘minimizing agency' or when people choose to 'downplay' their role on preventing or dealing with cyberbullying cases. Third, 'dehumanizing and blaming victim' or the assumption that the victim of the bullying is indeed deserved for the bullying that occurs to him/her, and finally, 'distortion of negative consequences' or deliberate bullying done to give deterrent effect to the bullying target, "concluded Kurnia.
Author: Raka Wicaksono