There's nothing quite as pleasant as stepping in between of two warring factions and saying in a still, small voice, "Hey guys, can you stop fighting and work together on something that's bigger than both of you?" I don't expect very much action to come from this idea but on the off chance that there's hope, I have to plead my case. I want Facebook and Google to team to combat bullying. I know it might seem trivial to some of you but to thousands of children it's a big deal. So big, in fact, that children have committed suicide over it. That fact alone makes it a very big deal and it's bigger than some silly feud. And, it could save lives.
What better epitaph could there be than to say of someone or some company, "That they cared enough to save a life"?
Why should I choose Google to help Facebook solve this problem?
Simple. Google has the planet's best search engine and Facebook is where everyone (OK, a billion people--not everyone) hangs out. Some of those people get bullied while hanging out. Google's search for bullying keywords and key phrases could help isolate the problem before it starts.
Facebook does have a policy in place that prohibits anyone under the age of 13 from setting up an account. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. My daughter's friends have accounts and they're 11 and 12 years old. My daughter does not have an account and won't until she's at least 13. I just don't see any point to it. She gets bullied enough at school and I'm not going to allow it online as well.
My wife and I have made it clear to the parents of said bullies that their kids are doing this but they seem to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it. Our next measure is to pull our daughter out of public schools and spend thousands of dollars to place her in private school. There are still no guarantees there either.
As a person who was bullied as a child, it makes me violently angry to hear of children being bullied to the point of suicide. It makes me equally angry for my own daughter to be a victim of it.
Bullies are, in a sense, victims too. They generally have some sort of abuse or neglect going on at home. However, I won't allow my child to be a victim of someone else's poor parenting or of drug and alcohol abuse at someone else's home.
OK, you've probably sensed that I'm a little too close to this subject but I believe strongly in stopping bullying. There should be ways to stop it at schools, on the playgrounds and online without resorting to what is basically legislated morality. What I mean is that those who are in control of public forums, such as schools, online meeting places and recreational locations have a responsibility to ensure the emotional and physical safety of everyone involved.
Facebook has a responsibility--a global responsibility to protect anyone who enters its virtual premises. Our teachers have a responsibility to protect our children. We, as parents, have a responsibility to be involved enough with our children to know when something is wrong. My favorite question to ask when something bad happens to a child who is bullied is, "Where are the parents?"
The answer isn't something I want to hear. The parents don't care or they have their faces buried in their cell phones or their own stuff so much that their kid's lives are secondary or tertiary concerns to them. Chances are good that the children of these neglectful parents are either being bullied or the bullies themselves. Parents need to take responsibility. Assuming that some external force will protect their offspring is the wrong answer.
However, we should be able to expect some level of protection from those in charge of schools, recreational sites and activities and online venues.
With Google's help, Facebook could achieve this level of protection. Google's "robots" search and index millions of websites each day and those robots could be programmed to seek out bullying phrases and patterns. It would be easy for them to do so.
Facebook and Google will have to lay down their arms against each other, pause to attach themselves to the greater good and to work toward a common goal. Our personal vendettas and pettiness must be put aside for our children. I'm sorry that this all sounds like some bleeding heart nonsense to some of you but for thousands of us this is the most important thing in the world.
Facebook has a major responsibility. Google's responsibilty is a secondary one--one of having the capability to do something. Think of the person who sees someone who needs help but instead stands there filming the incident. That's Google's responsibility. Google has the technology to help and the responsibility to not be a bystander.
We all have a responsibility. It takes a village to raise a child. The village has a responsibility. Virtual or real, the village must take responsibility for every child.
My personal plea to Google and Facebook: Help solve this problem before anymore children have to suffer needlessly. Take responsibility for what you've built. Put aside your own selfishness and selfcenteredness to do this. It could be your greatest epitaph.
Ask yourself this question, "How do I want to be remembered?"
What do you think? Do you think that Facebook and Google should put their heads together to solve cyberbullying? Talk back and let me know.