Healthy Mind

What to do about online bullying?

In the aftermath of GAA referee Patrick Nelis revealing how he tried to commit suicide after receiving abuse on social media sites Facebook and Twitter, the question remains of how we should monitor our social media sites.

I’m a fan of Twitter, Facebook and the odd tweet every now and then.

Why do I do it?

I have accounts on these sites, because I want to, simple.

Now, why should Patrick Nelis, a man who volunteered his time to become a qualified referee and give up his free time to officiate games, not have a Facebook or Twitter account? There is no valid reason why he should not.

Nelis is a normal human being, just like you and me, he should not have to be unable to use Facebook or Twitter because of trolls who decide to abuse him if they do not like a decision he made on a particular Sunday.

Saying that Nelis should not have social media accounts is pretty much saying that anybody who has done a bad job in some people’s eyes should not have a Twitter account.

If that was the case then Twitter and Facebook would not exist, as being perfect in everybody’s eyes is impossible.

Abusing someone online, offline, behind their back, or to their face will never and should never be accepted no matter who you are.

Going on Twitter and Facebook, is not like going onto, similar to a point, but they are not the same.

Creating an account on is opening yourself to trolls and abuse because literally anybody can ask you something, now I’m not saying Facebook and Twitter are perfect – they aren’t, but they do give the user more control of what people can see and what they deem to be private information.

Below is a paragraph from from one if its pages about how it works, and highlights why it actually did not work.

‘Everyone (even people who are not signed up to can see what you have put on your profile. You can delete anything on your profile that you decide you do not want there.’This is from its privacy policy:

‘The fact that you can send messages without other people knowing who you are is part of what makes unique and so much fun.’

Facebook and Twitter at least give you the option to limit what information people can see and you can’t send anything completely anonymously like on

This comparison and the RTE story bring up the touchy subject, for some, of regulating the internet.

Seems like a bit of a utopian concept, however, due to the increasingly digital and online nature of today’s world, one that needs to be looked at in more detail and debated more.

I think that regulation is not only impossible, but it is also not the answer. Education is the key. Society teaches toddlers how to be polite and kind to each other. Why can’t we teach kids to do the same thing online?

As the saying goes ‘’treat others the way you want to be treated’’ whether that be online or offline.