Letters to the Editor for June 16, 2015

Online group a haven for cyberbullies

“The Beaches, Toronto” is a Facebook group dedicated to the Beach community. As of June 3, it had 7,969 members and growing.

The description for the group states that it is a “discussion group” and is not for the “faint of heart” and those who take online comments seriously.

Not a very welcoming message for someone who would just want to be more connected with their community.

Community Facebook groups are generally for small business promotion, spreading word of community events, buy/sell posts, and any other important information that members of the community need to know.

There’s no doubt this group was created with good intentions to bring the community closer together via social media.

Unfortunately, the group has turned into a battle royale with Beachers arguing and insulting each other daily, if not hourly.

We all know that the internet is full of arguments fought cowardly behind computer screens. The result? Cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying has become an epidemic and has caused serious trauma especially in young people. It is a new and deadly form of bullying that can cause extreme mental health issues that will follow a child for the rest of their lives.

The Beaches group is full of parents and other adults who likely have a relation to a child or teen in their lives.

Ninety per cent of parents are familiar with cyberbullying, Stop A Bully Canada reports. As a young person who recently graduated high school, cyber bullying is very real and affects more people than the average person would think. Stop A Bully Canada reports that nearly four in 10 social network users have been cyberbullied.

The comments made in the Beaches group are perfect examples of cyberbullying, setting an absolutely disgusting example for the younger generation.

Any level-headed person reading the most heated threads on the group would be shocked and appalled at some of the wildly offensive things that have been said. Insults about age, mental stability, parenting, intelligence, parking, dog leash laws …

The threads eventually turn into a personal argument between five to 10 people, completely steering away from the actual post itself. It’s concerning that these posts aren’t shut down immediately, as the arguments almost always spiral out of control.

The Beaches Facebook group has turned into a toxic adult cyber-bullying frenzy. It is hypocritical in the sense that adults are bullying each other – something that is considered an offence in their own children’s schools.

A discussion group not for the faint of heart. A discussion group not for people who take internet comments too seriously. How about telling that to parents who lost a child to suicide as a result of cyberbullying?

 

D.C.


Did you enjoy this article? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!

16 comments

The description says exactly what the group is, and not every group is going to be for everyone. If it doesn’t seem welcoming to you, or your type of forum, there are definitely many other Beaches community groups to join. It’s a discussion group, discussions can get heated. You get full fair warning that people are free to post their minds.

The thing I LOVE about online forums, is that people actually post things they wouldn’t say to your face. Not because they’re cowards, but because they’re too polite; telling the truth doesn’t seem worth the hassle of dealing with hurt feelings. But the important thing is: it’s the stuff they are THINKING! So, where, in person, someone would be happy to let you go on your merry way, and not let you know how foolish you are, online you don’t get off quite so easily. Feelings can get hurt, words like ‘bullying’ get tossed around, but, for the most part, this is actually a huge benefit to society. I, for one, feel it is healthy for people to have an accurate view of how they’re perceived by others. It may be painful to discover you aren’t quite the special little snow flake you thought you were, but knowing means you can work towards doing better, if you choose, which beats wondering why nobody likes you, you know, since your loved ones assure you that you are totally awesome and should be the most popular person ever.

The letter, frankly, reads like sour grapes from a disgruntled member who maybe got told a few things they didn’t want to hear. I mean, since when does disagreeing with someone online amount to bullying? So what, we’re all supposed to agree or shut up, or have to worry that someone is going to kill themselves because not everybody likes or agrees with them?!? We are adults, not little kids who are going to make a decision to end our lives over something that won’t even matter next week. At least, I hope we are! Also, if what we do here is cyber bullying, then, um, what exactly is that article if NOT bullying? It seemed to be purposely hurtful and insulting and definitely reaches a much wider audience. Whoever wrote this should really take a long hard look in the mirror.

I’m not saying the group is perfect. With over 8000 people, yes, things don’t always run smoothly, there are posts that I find distasteful or don’t agree with, but I can always comment my disapproval, choose to ignore it, or leave the group if I’m not happy. What I won’t do, and what I find to be truly cowardly, is to anonymously write an open letter to the local newspaper, crying that a local community group, that no one is forced to participate in, has passionate, heated debates and doesn’t always agree about everything. Boo hoo!

Don’t take my word for it. Join the group, read the posts, see what the group does for this community, and then you be the judge of whether or not we are just a bunch of cowardly cyberbullies. 🙂

Wow! I guess that the unidentified writer had a falling out with the group. Seems a bit biased to just publish his/her anonymous story without corroboration. I have been a member of the group for a long time and find that most times, the people are wonderful. Like any “family”, we occasionally have a difference of opinion…BUT how boring would it be if everyone always agreed on everything. After all, it is a discussion group. Sometimes a troll enters a discussion only to incite.
This group helps to bring our community and all of it’s joys and problems to the attention of its members in a way that is informative ad entertaining. I think that “the faint of heart” are readily welcomed but those who have nothing to do but whine, like the writer of the article, are free to join another group and leave us to what we enjoy, informative entertaining discussions. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out pal!

Bullying Definition:
Repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person’s body, emotions, self-esteem or reputation.

Notice the first 3 words of the definition. Repeated, persistent and aggressive… I wish people would stop diluting the real meaning for those that are truly being bullied.

This term gets thrown around far too easily. Being rude, mean, or hurtful for whatever reason is not a nice way to interact with your neighbours or anyone. It’s not kind and at the same time, it is certainly not bullying.

I have been a member for a year and find it an incredibly compassionate, resourceful, supportive and passionate group that discusses many relevant topics and sometimes not so relevant. If there are topics that you are not interested in hearing about or people you do not want to hear from, you could block all communication from a person or stop the notifications of a post. It is very simple. Why cut out all the good because of a troll or two?

I agree with the author of the article in the sense that the discussions sometimes get set adrift by unrelated arguments and that they do sometimes spiral out of control. However, let’s look at the big picture here. This group had helped to find more lost dogs than any organization that I know; they have found a way, as a community to set up poop bag stations to help with the problem of errant piles canine sidewalk patties and they have helped to foster and grow local business and their relationships with members of the community. Is it perfect? NO. Is any relationship perfect? NO. Do people get upset sometimes and go on a rant? Sure they do, but that happens in real life as well and I have not read one single post where the dialogue has become threatening. Insulting perhaps, but not horribly to the point where I would consider it bullying. I think that the author of this article is young and a bit too immature to handle some of the discussions and that’s fine. As he or she indicated, they are recently graduated from high school and that’s fine. To go and accuse a group of people of cyber-bullying is not only unfair, it’s completely inaccurate.

The irony that the people responding to the letter writer post sentences such as

“It may be painful to discover you aren’t quite the special little snow flake you thought you were, but knowing means you can work towards doing better, if you choose, which beats wondering why nobody likes you, you know, since your loved ones assure you that you are totally awesome and should be the most popular person ever”

while trying to say the group is not rife with bullies is not lost on anyone who can read….

Hmmm, I’d try ‘reading’ the definition of the word ‘bully’ if I were you. It’s people who just toss this word around frivolously, such as you are right now, and such as this letter does, who are causing apathy towards a very real and serious issue by crying wolf all the time. It’s actually sad and obviously counterproductive.

As Admin of Beaches, Toronto group, I’m sorry you were made to feel this way. With a membership of 8,285 people, you also missed the very relevant fact of the banned number of members: 2263.

Our members do so many incredible things for the community, so it’s an unfortunate day indeed when this is how it is portrayed. We are home to Toonie For Our Community (helping those less fortunate when needed), we’ve pulled together and put smiles on faces of those terminally ill, we’re a first stop local reference shop for handypeople, massage therapists, caretakers, hairstylists, veterinarians, family doctors, restaurants and everything in between.

On a daily basis you’ll find a showcase of photographs of our area taken in the early morning hours or during the most incredible sunsets by photographers that are kind enough to share their camera stolen moments with all of us.

We don’t stop at dogs, we’ve reunited children’s toys, phones, wallets, back packs, bicycles and more items than one would imagine can be lost.

Often we discuss the left behind dog feces problem, more recently we seem to have moved on to horse droppings. As the “About” states: Discussions on everything & then some, from a resident or visitor perspective in our whimsical Beach community.

We nudged the local BIA with a decision to cease using exotic animals at our 2014 Beaches Family Day with an immediate outpouring of petition support.

And we have Henley the Hedgehog as our unofficial…

(con’d)

I once again extend my apologies if you’ve been made to feel uncomfortable in our group. I assure you, I do the best I can to keep the group a place where people are free to discuss local topics, but posts and members are removed that cross lines they know better than to cross (let’s circle back to 2263 banned members). I have personally been berated, insulted, and my reputation put on the line for making those decisions, but I stand by them proudly and do the best I can in a volunteer Admin role.

When Admin’ing our group, I choose to see the kindness of strangers that are our members, on a daily basis help their neighbours as best they can through our online social media outlet.

Everything in life has beauty, including The Beaches, Toronto Facebook group, but not everyone wants to see it that way for their own various reasons. I urge those that don’t, to try seeing the group for the whimsical place it truly is, that is representative of the lives that make our Beach neighbourhood the incredible place it is!

8285 members and growing daily. We must be doing something right!

I think it helps if there is more than one active Admin in a group so that any decisions are a consensus, or the other admins can intervene if an admin is bullying or is not stopping others posting from bullying.

I like “The Beaches” FB group – but a group needs to reflect its name. I was banned from a group which had a name indicating it was a residents group when the group never actually formed, and it was really a one-person show. But nobody who wants to start a competing group can call it “The Beaches” because she grabbed it first.

If the name of a group indicates it is really a one-person show (Joe’s Beaches Group), then fine, they can run it however they like, the problem is that when a group appropriates a geographic name that people will search and represents a geographic community like “The Beaches” it should be run in a way that is above board and is more accountable.

Imagine is a neo-Nazi had grabbed “The Beaches” name first – we would be outraged.

I have been a member of The Beaches FB group and never had a problem with Denise myself, and I admire the effort she puts into keeping it interesting and active, but perhaps it needs a discussion like this to sort out potential problems.

While I didn’t write this letter I can understand how this person feels as I’ve seen some attacks on my friends and family in this group by a select few. When you have more than one person gang up on someone for expressing themselves or by just posting something what else would you call it but bullying?

On a positive side the group has been helpful as well so I don’t want to come across as completely knocking it but I have to agree with Brian that for it to be a group for the area it should have more than one admin. Also if there were more than one admin it may help with the monitoring of the content so that it doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders to intervene, delete and ban. On the topic of banning a number of people lately have been banned unjustly so if there were more than one admin maybe the quick to ban would change as well.

The letter written to the Editor is absolutely accurate. There are a number of horrible, mean spirited, nasty people who bully regularly on this FB group and the Administrator is the worst offender. It’s too bad because it could be a wonderful community resource. The people commenting defending the Group are the bullies I was bullied by myself, personally. This group does not respresent my Beach. We are a kinder, gentler, more peaceful & mutually supportive community.

“Bullying Definition:
Repeated, persistent and aggressive behaviour intended to cause fear, distress, or harm to another person’s body, emotions, self-esteem or reputation.”
Oh yes, there is definate bullying and it is encouraged by the admin.

There is a new beaches site that was created for all of the people that were removed / deleted from the beaches site . It is called the Beaches Toronto Rejects it is an open site there is no real administrators any member can accept new members and you are welcome to put on anything you like with in Good Taste and reasoning such as pop-up sale postings pictures comments opinions discussions news clips Etc as I said it is an open Group and all are welcome to join

Click here for our commenting guidelines.

Leave a Reply

*