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Author's profile photo Moya Watson

“You can’t go home and just cry” — When Social Media Hurts

SAP is, by all accounts that matter, a highly social company. We have the most social CIO, we’re active externally on social channels, and we talk avidly internally about how to use these channels, personally and for work.  So we know, and talk a lot about, what’s good about social media — especially for business.

But social media can hurt.  In Be the one that helps:  SAP Employees Release “It Gets Better” Film, I wrote about some of the pressures facing youth online that can lead to bullying — and in the worst-possible scenarios, suicide. Recently, The Advocate released an infographic called Cyberbullying: By The Numbers which called out staggering statistics like these:

  • 7.5 million Facebook users are under the age of 13 (despite the minimum age requirement being 13)
  • 800,000 kids report being bullied on Facebook
  • Bullied kids are twice as likely to commit suicide as non-bullied kids
  • 1 in 5 cyberbullied teens think about suicide
  • 1 in 10 attempt it
  • 4,500 teens succeed in killing themselves every year

Sadly, SAP’s own Steve Fehr lost his son Jeffrey to suicide after years of relentless bullying, and it was to him that we dedicated the It Gets Better: SAP Employees film that premiered on June 7. 

Today SAP releases highlights of this premiere night:

Whatever your role in social business and social media, watch and share these highlights of anti-bullying leaders talking about the newer dynamics of bullying with the advent of social media, especially for our youth. As It Gets Better Project board member Seth Levy says:

“Bullying happens in a way that is intense, and you can’t go home and just cry on your pillow at night. It’s there all the time; and not only that, but bullying happens in a much more public way than it does when it’s just you and a few people outside the school.  If somebody posts something on your Facebook wall, it’s there for the universe to see — and it doesn’t go away.”

Prominent Tweeter Karoli shouted out to SAP’s It Gets Better film and addresses other types of heinous online assault happening recently in From The Bully Files, 2012 Edition, in which she also makes it clear that the industry needs to find a way to develop verified online identities.  Notice that the “easy” targets of online bullying in these instances are women and LGBT people — but non-minorities are not immune.  None of us are.

So in addition to walking the talk about the benefits of social business, as long as these types of situations persist, SAP – at least from my vantage point – will also continue to seek out how to help make it better.  Please consider joining.

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      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt

      This elicits strong sentiments around the topic of online bullying. In fact our conversation a few weeks back prompted me to begin the skeleton of a blog.  Your writing here prompts me to respond with what I began to write a while ago.  It goes something like this:

      Cyberbullying – It Isn’t Just For Kids

      A number of months ago Moya Watson shared with me her plans to launch an SAP version of the “It Gets Better” Project  “a worldwide movement, inspiring more than 50,000 user-created videos viewed more than 50 million times”  encouraging young people to reach out to get help if they are experiencing bullying and rejection.   Moya spearheaded and fore-fronted the SAP film submission to the project featuring the heart-rending and moving experiences of SAP employees  and she has worked tirelessly with many of her colleagues to galvanize support, feedback and spread awareness of the tragic results of adolescents who are bullied, taunted  and even tortured for simply being themselves. 

      When bullying is done online, it is called Cyberbullying.  Many of us think of Cyberbullying as something perpetrated on children, teens and youth but the term Cyberbullying has come to include adult behavior as well.

      (from Wikipedia)

      “Examples of what constitutes cyberbullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harm another. Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council: “when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person”

      I'm re-writing Rules of Engagement and I've been doing a great deal of thinking about bullying that happens online related to sexism, racism and ageism.  We have become so blithe about it that we are inured to it in the worst possible way.  I think I'm going to have to write more about examples I find because awareness might be the first step to acknowledging there is a bullying problem.  Sometimes in our very "backyard" (as much as we try to moderate, educate, and model desired behaviors).  Thanks Moya for your incredibly important voice.  And guess what?  It isn't only about adolescents.  It isn't just an LGBT "issue".  It's a topic all of us need to own and find remediation for.