Benign and Destructive Intimidation

Aletha S. Hendrickson
University of Maryland, College Park

Fortunately for the intimidated, cyberspace intimidation isn't always negative. In The Meanings of Fear, Stanley Rachman offers three fear-reducing methods: systematic desensitization, modelling, and flooding (73). Intimidatees who take advantage of hands-on computer training and user-friendly cyberspace resources such as The Internet Yellow Pages and PC Novice: Personal Computers in Plain English (which features a "Glossary of Terms" in each issue to help with mastering technical jargon) systematically desensitize themselves to cyberphobia. Furthermore, intimidatees who work at the elbows of cybermasters are modelling, and intimidatees who take a "sink or swim" attitude by immersing themselves in marathon sessions surrounded by hardware, software, computer manuals, and tutorials are flooding.

The Rhetorical Dimensions of Cyberspace
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Intimidation of Cyberspace | Types of Intimidation
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To conclude, I see cyberspace intimidation as both benign and destructive. On one hand, acquiescing to benign intimidation by systematic desensitization, modelling, and flooding motivates and empowers intimidatees, allowing them as rhetors to manipulate footing and face wants, to participate as equals in the discourse communities so necessary to their intellectual and professional well being. On the other hand, succumbing to destructive intimidation results in defeat and marginality in one's profession. Transforming oneself from cyberphobe to cybermaster, then, is simply a matter of motivation, effort, time, and money.

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