Hello, Our Wave community!
Thanks for tuning in to this month’s Curve in the Wave. For January’s topic of focus, we will be discussing online abuse and digital awareness. As the number of social media platforms and users increase, discussions around digital awareness become more and more necessary. While the internet can have several positive uses, as our community at Our Wave clearly shows, it can also be the home of negativity and harmful comments. I would like to highlight two excellent resources that discuss the prevalence of online abuse and digital awareness, and how to address these issues if they happen to you.
First, the Tech Abuse 101 article written by the Anti-Violence Project does a great job of defining technology abuse and how it can look. They address that technology abuse can come in many forms, including cyberstalking/harassment, checking private messages on your phone without your consent, “sexting” you without consent or demanding sexts (i.e., nude or semi-nude pictures sent by phone), and sharing or threatening to share intimate photos of you online without consent (this is also known as “revenge porn”). The Anti-Violence Project offers suggestions on how to avoid technology abuse and stay safe in relation to internet use, including blocking phone numbers that are used to harass you, downloading anti-spy software, and setting up 2-factor authentication.
Another great resource is the organization love is respect. Love is respect focuses on helping people ages 13-26 “disrupt and prevent unhealthy relationships and intimate partner violence by empowering young people through inclusive and equitable education, support, and resources.” They offer resources related to digital abuse, which can be exhibited through stealing or pressuring you to share your account passwords, looking through your phone or checking up on your pictures, texts, and phone records, and using social media to track your activities. To prevent digital abuse, love is respect recommends never sharing your passwords with anyone, saving or documenting threatening messages, photos, videos, or voicemails as evidence of abuse, and not answering calls from unknown or blocked numbers, as it may be your abuser trying to call you from another line. I encourage you to look into these resources if digital abuse is a concern for you, or just to brush up on internet safety tips.
This month’s book pick is Gendertrolling: How Misogyny Went Viral by Karla Mantilla. This book looks into how digital violence can be separated from internet ‘trolling’, and explains the legal parameters that are coming to fruition as the digital world expands. Mantilla believes that increased knowledge about online abuse and digital awareness will help spark the change needed to garner support for stricter laws, policies, and protocols for protecting those online, as well as create positive social pressure.
This month’s media picks are the resources listed above: love is respect and Tech Abuse 101. These are great sources to use when considering your current digital awareness levels, and offer some ideas on how to improve your safety and what to do if you feel that your digital safety is being threatened.
New: Take this time to reflect back on your relationship with social media. Do you consider your relationship with social media and the digital world to be more positive, negative, or neutral? What are steps you can take to create boundaries around the negative aspects of social media? How can you amplify what is more positive for you?