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Posted: July 12th, 2023

Addressing Online Harassment: Promoting Civility and Social Responsibility

One important theme throughout this class is responding to social controversies and creating social change. This paper is your chance to consider a social problem that matters to you and what should be done about it. What kind of change is necessary to respond to your social dilemma? The purpose of this assignment is for you to synthesize our course materials, your intellectual and emotional reactions to our course materials, and any additional scholarly and/or credible resources you deem necessary into a clear, cogent argument on a cultural event and/or social issue of your choice that you feel passionate about.Some questions to consider: What is the conflict underlying this controversy? How are the various people involved in the conflict? What kind of change is necessary to resolve the conflict? What kind of tactics could be used to respond to the conflict? Where are the opportunities to navigate differences and create better relationships to negotiate this conflict?Your paper should:

Introduce the controversy and its importance
Explain why this controversy is important from a communication standpoint
Connect this controversy to the tensions with democracy, civility, community, and social change
Describe what you and others can learn from those involved in addressing this controversy and how you and others can enact social responsibility in responding to this controversy
Your initial draft should be at least 3-5 double-spaced pages and should contain a minimum of 4 cited sources in MLA, APA, or Chicago. You will revise these papers over the following two weeks expanding and nuancing the position you take in this paper. NOTE: This is just a draft, meaning view this as an opportunity to get your ideas on the page. THEN, as we read more and you have more discussions and lectures, you will be able to revise and polish your response.This paper is the second of the three papers you will write and revise throughout the semester. Your first draft will be 3-5 pages, whereas your final draft will be 4-6. Your first draft should a minimum of 4 citations (at least 50-75% of these sources should be from the class). Your final draft should include a minimum of 6 sources (at least 50-75% of these sources should be from the class).PreviousNext

Addressing Online Harassment: Promoting Civility and Social Responsibility

Online harassment has become a pressing social dilemma in today’s digital age, affecting individuals, communities, and the fabric of society. This paper aims to explore the importance of addressing this controversy from a communication standpoint, examining its connections to democracy, civility, community, and the potential for social change. By analyzing the underlying conflict, understanding the experiences of those involved, and exploring potential tactics for response, we can foster better relationships, navigate differences, and work towards resolving this issue.

The Conflict:
The conflict underlying online harassment revolves around the misuse of digital platforms to intimidate, threaten, and harm individuals. This phenomenon is often fueled by anonymity, which emboldens perpetrators and enables the widespread dissemination of harmful content. Targets of online harassment experience emotional distress, reputational damage, and, in extreme cases, even physical harm. The conflict lies in balancing freedom of expression with the responsibility to create a safe and inclusive online environment.

People Involved:

Victims: Individuals subjected to online harassment, who endure psychological and emotional distress.
Perpetrators: Individuals who engage in online harassment, often driven by motives such as prejudice, power dynamics, or personal vendettas.
Bystanders: Individuals who witness instances of online harassment but choose to remain passive.
Platform Providers: Social media companies and online platforms that host the interactions and content facilitating online harassment.
Community Members: Individuals who participate in online communities and have the potential to contribute positively or negatively to the resolution of the conflict.
Necessary Change:
To resolve the conflict of online harassment, several changes are necessary:

Improved Platform Policies: Online platforms must develop and enforce stricter policies against harassment, providing clearer guidelines on acceptable behavior, and implementing effective reporting and moderation mechanisms.
Strengthened Legal Frameworks: Legislation should be enacted or updated to address online harassment, providing legal recourse for victims and holding perpetrators accountable for their actions.
Digital Literacy and Education: Promoting digital literacy programs that educate individuals on responsible online behavior, empathy, and the potential consequences of their actions can help foster a culture of respect and civility.
Empathy and Support: Communities need to create safe spaces where victims are supported, empowered, and provided with resources to cope with online harassment. Empathy should be fostered to encourage bystanders to intervene or report incidents.
Social Norms and Cultural Shifts: Promoting a cultural shift that rejects online harassment and values respectful dialogue and diverse perspectives can contribute to long-term change.
Tactics for Response:

Awareness Campaigns: Engaging in targeted awareness campaigns can educate the public about the consequences of online harassment, encouraging responsible digital behavior.
Collaboration with Platform Providers: Encouraging open dialogue and collaboration with social media companies to improve policies, reporting mechanisms, and platform design to combat online harassment effectively.
Support Networks and Helplines: Establishing support networks and helplines for victims of online harassment can provide immediate assistance, emotional support, and resources for coping and recovery.
Legal Advocacy: Advocating for legislation and policy changes that explicitly address online harassment and strengthen the legal framework for victim protection.
Peer Education and Empowerment: Empowering individuals to become advocates against online harassment through peer education programs, workshops, and awareness-raising initiatives.
Opportunities for Better Relationships and Negotiation:
Creating better relationships and navigating differences in the context of online harassment requires:

Constructive Dialogue: Encouraging open and respectful dialogue among stakeholders, including victims, perpetrators, platform providers, policymakers, and community members, to gain diverse perspectives and identify common ground.
Mediation and Conflict Resolution: Employing mediation techniques and conflict resolution strategies to foster understanding,empathy, and reconciliation between victims and perpetrators, promoting the potential for rehabilitation and change.
Community Engagement: Building inclusive online communities that promote positive interactions, empathy, and mutual respect, while actively addressing instances of harassment through collective efforts.
Collaboration between Researchers and Practitioners: Encouraging collaboration between researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to inform evidence-based approaches to combating online harassment, understanding its impact, and implementing effective interventions.
Addressing the social dilemma of online harassment is crucial for the well-being of individuals and the sustainability of digital communities. By recognizing the conflict underlying this controversy, understanding the experiences of those involved, and advocating for necessary changes, we can foster a culture of respect, empathy, and responsible digital behavior. Through tactics such as awareness campaigns, collaboration with platform providers, legal advocacy, support networks, and peer education, we can navigate differences, promote better relationships, and enact social responsibility to create a safer and more inclusive digital landscape.

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