I THANK my lucky stars I wasn’t born a few years later.
I had already left high school behind when a friend first showed me this new thing called Facebook during my first year of university.
Back then, just five years ago, I knew of a few bullies.
They directed their taunts face-to-face.
They saw their victims shy away, with pain etched on their faces, pain that they caused.
They were usually accountable.
That was before social media crept into the everyday life of teenagers, and before this “epidemic” of cyber-bullying.
When I was a teenager, I did not know the name of a single young person who had taken their own life.
I talk to teenagers now who can name dozens, still others say there are “too many to count”.
There is one name they all know — thanks to Facebook.
Amanda Todd, a 15-year-old Canadian teenager who was subjected to such relentless cyber-bullying that she took her own life.
And yet, sickeningly, the bullying continues.
There are hundreds of tribute Facebook pages set up in her name (I gave up counting at 200) but many of them have been desecrated with comments too repulsive to repeat here.
What’s more gut-wrenching is there are similar, well-meaning pages set up to remember young Border people lost to suicide.
They, too, have been desecrated.
And these are just the comments on public pages, directed at people who have already left this world.
Sadly, I’m constantly told of far more horrific things said on private pages to young people who experience this torment almost every day.
These are comments that would rarely be made face-to-face.
Few people have the courage to openly take responsibility for the pain they cause another.
But if someone can’t experience the damage their words create, they can delude themselves into believing they haven’t caused any damage at all.
Or worse, they want to cause pain and they hide behind the veneer of social media to inflict it.
Please do not tell me young people can’t comprehend the harm that can be caused by posting vile things.
They know exactly what can happen, because they all know the name Amanda Todd.
That’s the paradox of Facebook.
That’s why we all know too many young people who have fallen victim to bullying in all its modern forms.
Until this bullying without borders can be contained, the “epidemic” cannot be halted.