Cyber communication has become such a huge part of our society, that it is sometimes hard to distinguish the difference between our personal relationships, and relationships created or maintained, on the Internet.
Social networking sites allow communication to be personal and easily accessible. However, there are many negative aspects to forming online relationships. It is much easier for people to type hurtful words, than it is to be outright rude to someone’s face. When you disrespect a person, and see their reaction right in front of you, human instincts kick in, feeling remorse and regretful for inflicting pain onto someone else.
A particularly awful case of cyber crime took place when a 13-year-old girl, Megan Meier, killed herself after she was dumped by who she thought was her 16-year-old online boyfriend, Josh Evans.
“Josh Evans,” however, did not exist. The Myspace profile was a fake account made by her enemy and neighbor, Sarah Drew, and Sarah’s mother, Lori, 47, posing to be a teenage boy, to bully Megan.
“Josh” sent Megan a message one day, telling her he didn’t like her and that “the world would be a better place without her.” Megan, with a history of depression, responded to the message saying, “You’re the kind of boy a girl would kill herself over.” That afternoon Megan hung herself in her bedroom.
It is easy to get real relationships confused with cyber relationships, because we rely so much on the Internet for our communication with each other.
Megan’s case is very disturbing, and it was very hard for the courts to decide how to punish Ms. Drew, and her daughter because it was the country’s first cyber bulling case. They violated Myspace’s policy by posing under another identity, however, many people post false or exaggerated details about themselves. Ms. Drew’s punishment was reduced from a felony, to a misdemeanor. Because people lie on My space, usually to a lesser degree, it is hard to qualify lying about your age, or weekend plans as a federal crime.
It is not unusual for people who have a hard time fitting-in, to turn to the Internet to reach out to other people for some social acceptance. Megan did not realize that her real life problems with bullies, were targeting her cyber life, as well.