A few years ago, a Canadian teenager, Amanda Todd, killed herself after being harassed and extorted online. A man used flattery to get her to flash her breasts…and then used the photo he took to demand more, backed up by incessant threats online, revealing the photo to Todd’s friends, and promising to make her life hell forever. In at least one bit of justice, though, the Dutch police have now tracked down and charged the 35 year old man who preyed on teenagers worldwide through the internet. Do watch the video; the anger rush you’ll feel when you hear the jerk’s lawyer say that his client is “a decent man and a nice man” will make it worth it.
I pointed out back then that some members of the atheist community have a vile lack of empathy. I will mention it again. Miri rages against the online idiots who insist that internet activity can’t really do psychological harm — they diagnose freely over the internet, and claim that you can’t possibly develop stress disorders from the bullying tactics of the usual slymey suspects — Miri tears that argument up with basic scientific facts from the field of psychology (remember the days when skeptics at least paid lip service to science?)
I’m just going to point to Amanda Todd. Her death wasn’t virtual.
I’m also baffled by the reasoning: if it’s not ‘real’, if the only activities that can have a direct effect on someone’s sense of well-being are face-to-face, a punch in the nose, a bomb going off…then what the hell are you doing harassing people on the internet in the first place? Smart people who find themselves doing things over and over that they sincerely believe don’t work will stop doing them. I am compelled to believe that either they’re very stupid, or they are lying when they claim that their activities can’t possibly have an effect. Or both.