Playing the Indian Card

Monday, February 12, 2018

Sarahah the Bully

There is a campaign afoot, with petitions flying, to ban an app popular with teenagers called Sarahah. The problem is that it is reportedly being used for “cyberbullying.”

I cannot go along with the call to ban. It seems to misdirect from the basic problem: which is bullying, not Sarahah. It seems rather like banning fire because bullies can use it to burn someone.

There is a very simple and obvious way to avoid being bullied by anyone on Sarahah: don’t install the app. What could be easier? Indeed, according to a review I read online, to get comments, you not only have to download the app, then create an account, but it is then up to you to share the link with those you yourself choose, and ask for their comments. If, after this, anyone starts sending nasty comments, individual senders can be blocked at any time. If you want to be shot with this gun, you have to buy it, load it, and cock it yourself, before handing it to the bully. Then you have to pose for them in plain sight.

Nor are comments on Sarahah really anonymous. I checked for “Sarahah” in the Google play store, and that search term produced not just the app itself, but a variety of other apps promising to reveal the names and email addresses of anyone who sends comments. Anyone offering to allow others to comment anonymously is really simply on their honour not to check. Conversely, if you want to bully someone anonymously, it is simple enough to do that by email. Just create a dummy email account. Or, for that matter, just start a rumour at the corner or the water cooler.

Sarahah, on the other hand, clearly has valid uses. Like the one it was designed for. It could be a blessing for a conscientious boss.

Accordingly it seems to me that the only value to anyone of a campaign against Sarahah is to distract attention from the real problem of bullying, and deflect blame from the bullies.

The best way to prevent bullying is to raise general social awareness of morality and personal responsibility. This campaign goes in the opposite direction. It blames things for the acts of people.

And I think that has to be the deliberate point; otherwise complaining about Sarahah is utterly illogical. People want to avoid the concept of personal responsibility. The idea of the campaign is to have everyone accept the idea that individual humans are not responsible for their acts. Lets the bad people off the hook; they can then feel free to do as they like. And this general social tendency is what is making things like bullying more common.

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