Thoughts For Today From A Former Bullied Kid
I’ve read a different article every day about kids killing themselves after being bullied, I’ve watched Ellen cry about it and a panel of celebrities on Larry King Live (who tried in a failed attempt to link bullying to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and laws against Gay Marriage – could have been linked the celebrities were just not very eloquent about it). I was one of the bullied kids. For as long as I can remember, my school day included being called, “Fag” several times a day, being shoved into lockers (or on some occasions worse) and many a day was spent sprinting home through alleyways and byways so as to not be caught and beat up. It taught me to be fast of feet and mind. It also left enough emotional scars to require some plastic surgery of the soul. But when I was young and bullied it was more than twenty years ago and along with all the wonderful technology that now allows us to shuffle our music on a tiny mp3 player instead of wearing a bulky Sony Walkman cassette (and then CD Walkman) bullies have new technology too. Instead of being taunted in front of twenty kids at school suddenly attackers can take their message to the entire school or universe from their cell phones or webcams. The times have changed and the bullying tactics have changed and it’s time for all of us to change along with it.
I never came home with clothes torn or a black eye so my parents never knew how much I was bullied in school. In fact, they didn’t know until I started blogging about it four years ago in my forties. As a kid I remember thinking that I needed to handle this situation. “Handling” for me was making pretend they were screaming “fag” at someone else as I walked down the halls or telling myself over and over again how much more successful I was going to become than the person who had their hands around my throat at the moment (if I could just squirm away or at the very least stay conscious so as to pick myself up off the ground when the incident was over then I was all ready more successful than them). But again, I only had notes slipped into my locker that said, “Fag” I didn’t have someone texting it to the rest of the school.
It’s easy to be angry with the technology but I place the blame on all of us living and breathing humans on this earth as opposed to the electronic gizmos we now allow to run our lives. Because of technology we can pop popcorn in less than five minutes but we can also destroy a child’s psyche in less than five seconds by texting and hitting “send.” So as I sit with everyone else and watch the horrors as they unfold of young kids, teens and adults taking their lives due to bullying I hate to say it but I’m so thankful that the bullying I received was in a time before cell phones and the Internet.
So the question for those of us who consider ourselves decent people is what to do now? I think we have to look not only at the messages we as adults are sending to kids but also changing the way we parent and deal with both the good and bad cyber hand technology has dealt us. We have to somehow slake our vampiric thirst for bringing down celebrities, political leaders and one another. I’m not talking Joan Rivers on Fashion Police here (who by the way is hi-larious), I’m talking about the thousands who read blogs like Perez Hilton every day, a blog where he draws cum shots on people, “outs” their sexuality and basically bullies them for profit and fame. We allow someone like this to make a living off of feeding off of other people’s lives, calling it entertainment and then so-called news organizations have the nerve to put him on camera as a spokesman for the gay community. Well, he doesn’t speak for me, not by a long shot, thank you very much. If tomorrow no one read Perez Hilton or the millions of blogs like his again, believe me, it wouldn’t change our existence negatively.
And what of the negative political bullying that is all over right now as we gear up for elections? These politicians WILL change our existence by being our next leaders and lawmakers. And yet, we allow them to reduce one another to sensationalized sound bytes that make each other look like crooks and morons as they bully one another in thirty second spots. Imagine if political campaigns were based on a candidate’s qualifications and actual beliefs? Not their religious beliefs but how they’ll vote on important issues and funding? I don’t care what political party you identify with (as each one of them seems to just be a mob of bullies and yes, I’m talking ALL parties including the ones serving up a good dose of hate and fear at their “parties”). I want to know what a candidate stands for, not how well they can bully their opponent or how much dirt they can dig up on them.
So if you’re a parent you officially have a much bigger job thanks to the wonders of technology. You no longer have to worry about your child dropping an anvil on someone’s head because they’re watching Roadrunner cartoons you have to make sure they’re not destroying another child’s soul by posting hate on the World Wide Web. You have to read what they’re posting on Facebook, read their texts and yes, while it may seem like an invasion of privacy to your child, that’s what parents were designed to do before parents became more concerned with their own popularity in their homes and less about parenting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you need a license to drive and you should have to have one to parent. Think of it in terms you can understand, start “friending” your kids less and being the “administrator” of their electronic world instead. Who knows, you may find out that your child is being bullied and be able to stop them before they get as desperate as the kids who have now become suicide statistics. Isn’t it worth being disliked for the time being by your kids to possibly save their lives? And don’t tell me you’re too busy to monitor their activities. You weren’t too busy to make the kids, make play dates for them, over schedule them with soccer, cheerleading, ballet and every other fantasy of your own that was left unfulfilled so make the time to look at what they’re doing on their phones and online, people.
I don’t know that we’ll ever get to a place where there won’t be some sort of bullying but don’t we owe it to not only the future generations but ourselves to at least try to become less fearful, less angry and more generous to one another as soon as possible? Maybe we can’t say anything nice and if that’s the case maybe like the old cliché, we shouldn’t say anything at all. Just don’t expect me to stay silent when it comes to bullying and gays being treated like second class citizens as I have a lot of “not so nice” things to say when it comes to those topics and I intend to say them.
Read More Scott @ www.somelikeitscott.com
10.13.10 Update - Perez Hilton Goes On Ellen To Say He'll Stop Bullying....we'll see