During a recent interpreter peer group meeting, conversation turned to something we had all seen on social media — an interpreter at a music festival who had been filmed working. The video, then posted online, went viral. While the predicament of having one’s work product go viral on social media was discussed, most of our conversation centred on the reactions of interpreter colleagues to this post, specifically the disparaging comments directed at this interpreter by other SLIs. As we go deeper into the digital age, it becomes increasingly important that we raise awareness of such eventualities in the signed language interpreting field and react to them both as individuals and as a profession. This incident highlighted an important issue that we are yet to tackle as an industry – peer bullying.
Horinzontal Violence is defined as ‘[P]ersistant behaviors such as gossip, diminishing comments, devaluing others’ professional worth, and criticism, perpetrated by members of a group toward one another, whether consistently or inconsistently, that cause harm, anxiety and stress in the receiver’ (Ott 2012, p. 15)
Online horizontal violence could actually be amplified due to keyboard courage, the emergence of social media, online forums and the permanence of digital information (Wilkins & Best 2020).