It is an established fact that the internet is an endless space and things can be seen or made to disappear as desired. This can be both a boon and a bane. Cybercrime or online violence is often overlooked or its seriousness is underestimated.  We need to understand that just because it is a virtual platform; it doesn’t make the violence any less real.

What better day than the birthday of the pioneer of the philosophy of nonviolence, Mahatma Gandhi to talk about ending violence online.

#GandhiJayanti
We have a voice, let us use it to spread peace

Since we seamlessly navigate the online world every day the way we do offline, shouldn’t it be a safe place to voice our opinion? Shouldn’t we have the right to participate fully without a threat to our safety, privacy and the freedom of expression? 

To address online violence the right way, we of course need to understand and acknowledge it as a legitimate problem. Sustained efforts are taken to maintain global peace offline. Similarly we, as an online community need to take proactive steps to ensure we interact in a nonviolent and peaceful way. We should keep in mind to never intend harm to another person.

WHY ONLINE VIOLENCE IS ACTUALLY A THING

What qualifies as online violence? By definition, cyber-violence is the use of digital devices and services to engage in activities that result in physical, psychological and emotional self-harm or cause harm to another person. This can be in the form of bullying, stalking, online harassment, threatening, hate speech, non-consensual sharing of images, recording and distribution of sexual assault.  

The online world is an amazing source of knowledge and entertainment. However, it is also deeply complicated. There is a fine line between the two and we need to tread carefully.  Statistics say that mostly teens, women and LGBT people are victim to this faceless evil, cyber-violence. Sadly, it isn’t going away anytime soon. It is a chilling fact that over 80% of young adults believe that they can easily ‘get away’ with online crimes.

What starts as just a troll to get more likes, shares or simply attention can lead to more serious issues such as identity fraud. Digital violence can easily spill into the offline world and lead to physical abuse and even suicide. It becomes a very lonely and dark place for those who experience such violence and have nobody to confide in.

DON’T TAKE ONLINE LIFE FOR GRANTED

Never take life for granted is something we quite often hear. It’s time we also talk about not taking online life for granted. The most powerful tool we have online is our voice and the platform we create for ourselves. We can use our skills and knowledge in an incredible way to educate and make people aware of the kinds of online violence and how they can protect themselves and their loved ones.

We need more voices talking about breaking the stigma and creating a warm and safe environment around us. It is never to late to reach out for help. It is our responsibility as online citizens to spread only peaceful and authentic messages. Being kind and compassionate doesn’t cost a thing!

THE GREATEST FORCE IS AT OUR DISPOSAL

We cannot separate online and offline violence. Let us make the internet a safe place, following Gandhiji’s message, nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.