Dr. Keith Albow discusses the phenomenon of bullying, which cyberspace has given a new dimension for harm:
It’s very likely, however, that Phoebe's bullies knew something more about her than the fact that she was a pretty girl. They may have intuited that she was more sensitive than they were or that her sense of self had yet to fully develop.
Bullies are good at detecting victims who feel things deeply or who are unsure of themselves because, underneath it all, they are on the run from their own feelings and uncertain of their own worth. That’s why they band together and go on the offense as a group. They can pretend to be more valuable than their targets and less vulnerable.
Make no mistake about it: The suffering of Phoebe Prince had to have been sport for these teens. Dehumanizing her had to have been intoxicating. They were getting high together. Hating another person, like any drug, has the effect of distancing people from their own deep doubts and despondency.
In the age of the Internet and Facebook, more teens than ever are busy getting the surface of their lives to look good, while their inner, emotional lives are built on the most fragile ground imaginable. Bullying, like all drugs, can become epidemic in such circumstances.