I've been reading a celebrity post regarding recent reports of bullying and the resulting backlash from the kids in the school as they circle and attack.
Me, I take media reports with a grain of salt. My old theory of the mainstream media living by the mantra of 'if it bleeds, it leads, and if it doesn't bleed, we'll make the first cut to get the blood flowing' remains true, as far as I can see.
So I'm not going to comment directly on recent stories about suicides due to bullying because guys, there are too many factors that aren't being addressed by the media. Not being crass, just statistically speaking, a certain number of deaths in a 3000+ group of people vs. say a group of 300 changes the numerical view of it all.
Yes, that's the cold view. The human view is this: One death by suicide is too many. End of story. It doesn't matter where it took place or when.
This is why media frenzies drive me insane. They drum up a cause du jour. People jump on the bandwagon. Sure, the intent is pure. The concern is real. I feel it as well.
But what I don't understand is why we pick and choose our social righteousness.
Why is one kid's death prone to spark outrage and fist-shaking, when hundreds have experienced the same thing? Shouldn't we be angry about every death? Shouldn't we demand justice for every child so decimated by their peers that dying is better than having to face it just one more day?
I'm tired of selective activism. Stop being enraged for a week before you get distracted by a new shiny headline.
This problem is bigger than a temporary news ticker scrolling across the bottom of your television screen. Can you imagine how many kids see this current media frenzy and think, "What about me?"
Let me explain where I'm coming from: I was a first-class geek in high school. In elementary school, I did okay. But my parents moved me to catholic school in sixth grade. And my social ranking plummeted to the negative numbers.
Once you're branded the outcast, you're screwed. Trust me, I know. By the time I hit ninth grade, I'd well earned the 'weird kid' label. Seriously, how can you avoid it? After three years of absolute shunning, you try just about anything to figure out how to fit. You find yourself flinging out stories about the absentee boyfriend who doesn't exist, and you sit there thinking, 'what the crap did I just say that for??'
It's because you're trying to make the sharks that circle you every day think you have some kind of value in the world. Or at least throw them off long enough so you can run to the bathroom and hide in a stall.
And let me tell you, the nuns and priests never got around to properly pounding that message of compassion and acceptance into the minds of the student body. I think it may have been worse than if I'd gone to public school. Not that I have any basis for comparison, but at least in public school, I had friendships established.
So, yeah. I know what life is like on the loser layer of the educational food chain. I've had guys tell me to my face that I was the ugliest thing they'd ever seen. I've had a guy shoving his crotch in my face while I sat at a desk. I've had kids desperately try to convince the class that I just farted. I had the Josie Grossy moment where somebody asked me to the prom as a joke, except I knew it was coming, thankfully, and told the dude to fuck off. I was the kid who had only polite clapping, pretty much from family when my name was called at graduation.
Know how much of a geek I was? I have never been invited to a high school reunion. I was so irrelevant that nobody remembers me, or they still refuse to give me the time of day.
Some celebs are making statements, coming out as former bullied students. They're putting out the message that hey, it gets better.
My take? Yeah, it gets better, sort of. Yeah, yeah, I can hear it now. That isn't positive. That isn't motivational. That isn't uplifting. Well, suck it. It's the truth.
Yes. It gets better. Eventually you get away from the tormentors. You learn to stick up for yourself. You move on, grow up, and live your life.
But it doesn't ever go away. Not completely. The bullying evolves. The bullies remain assholes, and the geeks remain geeks on some level. Even if said geek turns into a super-model, deep down, they still see the geek. Now your former classmates sit at a desk, idly stroking their combover or loosening their pants so their beer gut is free, but they'll still shun you. Only now, they do it via Facebook.
Life as the high-school loser never goes away. It's inside. It rears its ugly head when you need it least. It whispers that you're still that loser. It whispers that you're still ugly, fat, stupid, worthless. When you graduate high school, you don't walk away with just a diploma. You also take away emotional baggage you need a forklift to raise.
I'm sick of the word 'bullying'. It doesn't fit. It's not strong enough. Let's call it what it really is. It's psychological warfare. It's abuse. It's violence. It's survival of the fittest at its ugliest.
Kids are cruel. Kids are mean. Kids are little more than a pack of wolves circling a wounded sheep.
I suppose this is the place where I should present a fantastic plan to eradicate bullying. A plan of action. Pro-active change. Yada yada yada.
Guess what? I don't have one to offer. Why? Because you can't legislate common sense. You can't write a handbook on being human. You can't issue demerits for lack of kindness.
I don't have an answer. Bullying will always exist. It's human nature. It's kill or be killed. High school will always feel like guerilla warfare to some kids, and the golden years to others.
The only thing I can offer is this: If you're a parent, if you've stumbled across this page, do me a favor. Don't look at your kid through rose-colored glasses. Really look at him, and see if his behavior is something you're proud to have instilled in him. And if it isn't, for god's sake, nip it in the bud while you still have a chance. Teach your kid to be responsible for his words and actions. Teach him that he doesn't have the right to destroy another person just because he can.
God knows, the world doesn't need another asshole-in-the-making.
And we don't need any more kids that think they'd rather put a gun to their head than suffer through one more gym-class from hell.