SUSAN WILSON writes: The Digirata is a nice calm thoughtful piece on unplugging and fighting cyber bullying. This piece has been signed “by ‘Anonymous’” but after you have read it, there is an email interview with the actual author.
After reading the homage to the original 1927-dated Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, Susan Wilson spoke with me about the text. Following is our email dialogue:
SUSAN WILSON: What prompted you to write Digirata?
DAN BLOOM: The rising number of cyberbullying and cyberstalking cases nationwide and worldwide, that have led to some teenagers committing
suicide. The case of 15 year old Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts was
one such case of brutal cyberbullying that led to the young girl
hanging herself in her home. And also the recent publication of books
like William Power’s Hamlet’s BlackBerry, about the need to unplug
from time to time, and even try to take what Powers calls an "internet
sabbath" once a week or so…
So I wanted to use some humor and some serious warnings too about modern internet use and at the same time write what i call an homage to the Desiderata. It is not a parody. It is an homage. The Desiderata is a wonderful piece of prose poetry from 1927 and it’s ideas and themes are still important today. However, the Digirata merely updates the Desiderata for the digital age, with some humor, some philosophy and some warnings.
SUSAN WILSON: Why not put your name on the piece?
DAN: Since I did not really write this prose poem, but merely edited the
1927 original and tweaked it a bit for 2010 readers, and gave it an
internet theme, I prefer to remain in the background as an editor and rewriter, and not "the author." The new poem is not about me, but about the issues of modern internet use and internet abuse. i want to focus on
the issues, not me. I am not important here. I feel this is a group effort, and of course, all kudos go first to Max Ehrmann, 1872-1945.
ME: What are you hoping to achieve with the piece?
DAN: I hope to help foster more national discussions in the media about cyberbullying and cyberstalking and unmoderated internet flaming. It has gotten out of control.
This is an ice-breaker, a discussion-starter. I hope the national media use it for that purpose. But in terms of legal issues, I do want to know more about the legal ramifications of cyberbullying and cyberstalking and even cyber-flaming on online forums.
ME: Has anyone responded to the piece and if so what did they have to say?
DAN: Yes, many blogs are posting reactions to the Digirata, and I have sent the text to over 100 experts in the fields of technology, psychology
and law. Some comments I have received so far:
"….just what I needed…..
technology may change but human nature and our plight never
change…." — from an Associated Press reporter in Japan
”Some very sound counsel. Thanks." — from a top technology writer in Boston
"I heard they wrote it in anger at all the cyberstalking and cyberbullying going on,…it’s wild out there…sigh….and yes…….It is. So many keyboard "tough guys" out there who will tell people where to stick it … but they’d never have the guts to say it in person. But as the new poem rightly point out, it’s still "a beautiful online world."– a songwriter in South Carolina
According to The Cyberbullying Research Center, 44 states have enacted Cyberbullying Laws. Findlaw gives a quick summary of nine of the 44 state laws. Laws are difficult to craft and many that are passed don’t always do what the legislators intended. The Megan Meiers Cyberbullying Prevention Act has gotten shunted from committee to committee in Congress. It was introduced April 2, 2009 by Rep Linda T. Sanchez [CA-39] and has been sitting in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security since May of 2009.
Cyberstalking has been addressed in many places by updates of harassment and stalking laws to include electronic stalking. Over a decade ago, Cyberstalking was already seen as a threat in a Report on Cyberstalking that was prepared by the Attorney General for the Vice President.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other web services have not been held accountable for the cyber abuses of their users just as phone companies are not held responsible for threats or pornographic pictures downloaded or sent by their customers.
So yes, the dialogue on cybercrimes needs to continue............................ ...