The same goes for bullying. Back then, teenagers were mean to each other too. Notes were passed that were mocking and hurtful, and there were mean and sometimes obscene phone calls.
Obviously, the biggest difference is the immediacy of communication. Today, it is instantaneous, and much more pervasive. Something posted in Facebook can go to hundreds of people in less than a second. The 1980s equivalent would have been to photocopy a note and pass it around – which never happened obviously. Social media also desensitizes people. They can be as mean as they want, hiding behind the comfort of their keyboard or phone. They can also be anonymous by creating whatever pseudonym or alias they like.
However, I still believe the behaviours we see today are not new. They occurred when I was in high school in the 1980s, the medium was just different. One of the things I regret most in my life as a teenager was sending a mean, spiteful note to a girl. It hurt her and diminished me. I did apologize as well, and it was via another note. Had that happened today, the whole thing would have happened via texting or messaging.
(Just out of interest, check out this news story from 1986, when I was in Grade 12, when the cell phone first made its appearance. Check out the price: $3,300, although it was set to come down to around $2,000.)