Editor’s note: I am not related, or have ever met Mika Brzezinski
June 29, 2017 (San Diego) River of ink have already been spilled about two tweets regarding Morning Joe (Joe Scarborough) and Mika Brzezinski. However, this is bigger than just them. This is partly about a culture. First let’s concentrate on the words used. Not all of the tweet, just some of them.
“Low I.Q. crazy Mika.” The key word here is crazy. This is a common attack with 12 year olds on the playground, but it is also a common attack with adult cyber bullies. If you have been online long enough, and have angered people who are bullies, you have been called crazy. Psycho is another classic, also used in the morning. This is a way for a bully to mark the victim as less than human. Somebody who can be ignored. Somebody who should be ignored. Somebody who could even be dangerous.
Then the bully attacked Brzezinski with a body image attack. In this case, “she was bleeding from a face lift.” Brzezinski is obviously fit and good looking. So instead of calling her fat, the cyberstalker went for another target. In this case, she is not that good looking, since she needs surgeries, plastic surgeries.
What the president did in the morning to both hosts, but especially Brzezinski, is something that victims of cyberstalking experience regularly. If you have been online long enough, chances are you have. Especially if you somehow threaten the bully, and their self image. Moreover, his actions give permission to the culture to continue doing this. The culture of cyberstalking is deep.
An astonishing 72% of American internet users have witnessed online harassment or abuse while almost 47% have personally been on the receiving end. From being called offensive names to being physically threatened, many people experience the internet as an unsafe space. Unsurprisingly, women, LGB people, and people of color are more likely to witness, and in many cases, experience such harassment.
Full disclosure, I have been on the receiving end multiple times. So when White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today that the president fights fire with fire, essentially blaming the victim, this was very familiar. So were her claims that attacks on White House staff have been deeply personal. It crossed into the twilight zone, to use her words, when she also said the president had never encouraged violence. He did during the campaign.
All this is part of an extremely familiar pattern. It does not matter if the abuser is the president, or a 12 year old bullying another child. So we need to look at what the president is doing as part of a cultural pattern. Also, we need to recognize this is not just a presidential problem. However, he is a very bad role model for younger people. This is a cultural problem. We still accept bullying. The attitude generally speaking is boys will be boys, and words don’t hurt. They do. People have committed suicide over this kind of abuse.
If you are a victim of cyber bullying, you are not alone. Here a resource. This comes via cyberbullying.org.