Wanting to be Offended

12 October 2018

Talking over the Internet isn't as effective and equivalent to real-world communication. Most of the time, we communicate using only text, with nothing to describe our tone of speech, expression, and other non-verbal forms of communication. But what about video chat? Tinychat.com provides a public video chatroom. It's still nothing like reality, but let me tell you a story.

One of my very first experiences with Tinychat is actually with a stranger who makes racist remarks and insults with video and speech. At first, it was too dark to see his face but he eventually revealed himself anyway. The thing is, he isn't afraid in the slightest bit to talk shit about others.

Most of his insults were directed to a black guy in the chatroom. I thought it was pretty insulting and hurtful and it went on for about half an hour. But why do we always assume that these insults are offensive to a group that we don't even belong to? At the end of the day, the black guy found it funny. To be honest, we have to be immature to find it funny... but is it mature to take offence on someone's free speech?

Eventually his insults reached me, a Chinese guy. He was mocking about how I would sound like if I actually spoke, "ching chong ling long" and the sort. With his poker face and serious tone, you can't really tell if he's joking or not, but I could only laugh. Even if he was serious about it, I'd laugh. The black guy got it worse in my opinion, but he still laughed.

After all that, we still engage each other in a conversation. To me, it would be much duller and not so enjoyable without him. I actually look forward to be in this chatroom, simply because I find it funny. Unfortunately, the chatroom no longer exists.

It is these kind of experiences that make me think about what people actually consider as bullying or harassment on the Internet. If I really did get offended, I could block the user or even join another chatroom. This sort of functionality to simply ignore what you don't like to hear - doesn't exist in real life. In the computer however, you as the user have control of that. Internet is the pinnacle of free speech and information, it is the greatest invention ever made. It allows people to speak freely without fear of being punched in the face.

Does cyberbullying really exist, or is it just some people who simply WANT to be offended?