The video below is a plea from Ellen DeGeneres regarding teenage bullying. She sums up, beautifully, everything that’s been running through my mind since reading about the most recent tragedy. Another precious young life has been destroyed because of individuals who don’t have enough going on in their own lives to keep from nosing into other lives.
After being what is termed cyber-bullied, Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi jumped to his death. The short (and heartbreaking story): Tyler’s roommate apparently set up spy cameras in their dorm room – recording Tyler kissing another young man. He then went to a young female student’s room and fired up the livestream recording.
The kids (you know, the ones without interesting enough lives to keep them busy) then distributed the video over Twitter.
Mortified, young Tyler Clementi said his goodbyes on Facebook and jumped to his death.
Cyber Bullying Has to End
As someone who loves young people more than I love my next breath, I am completely shaken by this whole thing. Some people are hoping that the young people who caused this (or should I say played a role in causing this) get years in prison. Personally, I can’t see even more lives wasted as a glorious solution.
They should be made to do community service, in my opinion, and lots of it. They should have to join a group that seeks to find a solution for bullying. Maybe they should be guinea pigs – allowing us to probe under their skin to find out just what sort of people find bullying to be an entertaining sport.
My mind is drawing blanks as to where one would even look for a solution to cyber bullying. As adults who know better, are we setting the example?
Here’s an example. What about all of the “touched up” photos that are everywhere online featuring celebrities? The blogs show the original picture of the individual, along with the photoshopped, airbrushed, and often completely altered version. People take great pleasure in these. Recently, there were pictures of a Madonna photo shoot – before and after. I have to admit, even I laughed at the headline (Re-Touched, Not For the vVery First Time).
Clever, right? Well,maybe not.
As a society, we’ve become kind of obsessed with “knocking people down” and “exposing” them. Why is that? Most of us have all that we need and then some…. Why not want the same for everyone? At what point did we stop pulling for people and start pushing them?
If Madonna’s arms are airbrushed, so freaking what?! Why fixate on that? Fixate on her career and the fact that she looks amazing.
We have to STOP making the act of “knocking people down” a form of entertainment. We need stricter laws, I acknowledge that, but we need – first and foremost – to look deep inside of us and ask ourselves, “What makes us behave like monsters?!” It isn’t cool, it isn’t cute, and it in no way makes us look better to anyone – least of all to God.
Since the beginning of time, being “different” has kind of marked a person. Whether it’s your sexuality, your race, your appearance, or how you talk – if you’re different from the “norm,” people will sit up and take notice. Those who are comfortable in their own skin and are completely have their act together will notice you, then grant you the freedom to live your own life. They may not 100 percent agree with everything you do, but they’ll fight for your right to live your own life – safely and happily. Besides, they’re too busy living their own lives to interfere with yours’!
However, the uncool crowd – those filled with hatred, prejudices, and vile – will do more than just notice you. They’ll do all they can to ostracize you, bully you, and try to make everyone else do the same. That’s all they’ve got – they don’t have any real game to speak of.
Steps We Can Take to End Cyber Bullying
- Take a Stand. Talk to everyone you know about the destructiveness and ugliness of bullying others. Be bold. When you see someone bullying others, point out that it isn’t funny. If you normally follow people on Facebook or Twitter or visit blogs that do this sort of thing, stop! Don’t support anyone or anything that makes bullying entertainment. Take a stand… but first make sure you’re on the right side.
- Talk to Your Kids if You Suspect They’re Being Bullied. Whether your kids are the ones who’d be considered “different” from the norm or your kids are smack dab in the middle of Norm-ville, talk to them about bullying. If you suspect that your son or daughter is being bullied, don’t be passive – be pro-active and do everything in your power to make the bullying stop. Do your homework and find role-models for them to look up to – people who have not only overcome the stigma of being “different” but have made it downright fashionable!
- Talk to Your Kids Even if They Aren’t Considered “Different.” I would be just as worried about my children becoming bullies as I would be about them being bullied. The kids who now face charges in the death of individuals they’ve bullied? I wouldn’t want to change places with their parents for anything in the world. Think about that for a minute. Can you imagine living with the fact that your child not only played a role in another child’s death but that your child’s entire life is now VERY negatively affected as a result. Is there anything sadder than young lives being destroyed? Please talk to your kids today – don’t put it off another minute. Be certain they know the consequences of bullying – EVEN if it’s young girls talking about other young girls on Facebook or in the lunchroom. You never know the emotional stability of another person, your cruel words may be the last they can cope with. Please be sure your children truly “get” this. Make an ass of yourself if you have to – get your point across.
- Support stricter laws for bullying and cyber bullying. Let your lawmakers know that we’ve had enough. Let your voice be heard and encourage others to take a stand as well. If young people see that we’re standing up for them, maybe they won’t feel so alone.
I honestly hope this is something you’ll think long and hard about. Please talk to the young people in your life and, again, please take a stand. Take an honest look at the people you hang around with offline or the people online who you follow on social media sites, forums, or blogs. If you ever detect any form of bullying or intolerance, run… don’t walk… in the other direction. If you stick around, you’re condoning what they do. You’re an enabler.
Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. As someone who loves young people, I’m begging you.