On Bullying

em·pa·thy
noun \ˈem-pə-thē\
: the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings

If you’re a good person, you understand this definition completely. It makes sense, logically and emotionally. You wouldn’t be mean to a person because you don’t want them to feel bad. I’m not saying everyone is perfect, and every once in awhile even good people slip and say hurtful things. But a good person doesn’t go out of their way to make people feel like shit.

Of course, some people do go out of their way to make people feel like shit. Sometimes they do it because they have their own low self esteem and it’s a way to try to make them feel better about themselves by putting others down. Some do it because they are clinical sociopaths that really don’t care about how other people feel. Some do it because they have shitty lives built on abuse, and they think that life is built on abusing people.

In any case, it sucks, and it needs to stop.

With the anonymity of the internet, bullying has become the norm. For all of those people that would be ‘too shy’ to call somebody fat to their face, they now can just type it onto a screen and hit SHARE. It’s a lot easier when you aren’t physically viewing the consequences to your actions.
As much as the internet has allowed us to share positive comments and ‘likes’ over many things we wouldn’t normally get to interact with, it’s almost brought about sharing negativity and hate. Especially in certain forums where you are allowed to comment without giving any information, as a ‘guest’ or ‘anonymous’.

This girl posted photos on her Tumblr account and got so many hate comments from random people that she felt she needed to take a stand. She’s very strong to be able to do that. I can’t believe some of the comments! I can’t say that I wouldn’t have just deleted my Tumblr and felt like a cave troll after reading all of those, day in and day out.

How can people be this mean? Seriously?!

I’ve always considered myself a fairly confident person, but I am human after all, and far from perfect. I’ve had my share of self doubt, of envy, of feeling like less than awesome. And looking back into my early teen years, I cringe at how badly I took the other kids’ views of me. I remember wanting to try out new styles, go against the norm, but being too afraid to because I didn’t want to get made fun of. I had my share of that as it was, and it affected me so much because I was a twelve year old girl and I just wanted to be liked.

My best friend has an eleven year old daughter, and I marvel every day at how self assured she is. When she’s an adult and can fully understand my awe, I will shake her hand for being the most amazing young girl I’ve ever met. She’s nerdy, she has her own crazy styles, and she also has a bit of social awkwardness that some kids would view as ‘weird’.

And she doesn’t give a shit. Seriously. She has her two closest friends, and they have a good time, and do crafts, and get excited about Little Big Planet. If any other kid gives one of the three shit, or is mean, she just tells them not to talk to her that way, and shrugs it right off. She literally doesn’t give a fuck what other people think, she just wants to be happy and hang out with her happy friends.
She doesn’t come home crying because the other kids are bullying her. She tells the bullies what’s what, and then doesn’t let it affect her. And I like to think that those bullies stop and think twice.
The world need more people like this. I’m not going to say that every kid that was like me, desperately wanting to conform and ‘be cool’, has perpetuated cycles of bullying by letting themselves be engaged into it. But if bullying comes from low self-esteem, and then those bullies target other kids with low self-esteem, then if we nip it in the bud and try to breed confident kids that are comfortable in their own skin, wouldn’t that break the cycle?

My parents are both very happy and self assured people that love each other (married 30 years in four days!), and that bred me into a well adjusted adult. I had a great home life, and as an adult now, my parents are pretty much my best friends. We hang out, play video games, go for coffee, have jam sessions, cook for each other, and text each other stupid shit. It’s awesome. I love our relationship, and it was always like that growing up. They had to pull rank when I got out of hand, but I always felt like a human being, and that’s important.

Yes, I went through mild bullying in my early teens, but I was a young girl who was overly dramatic and nerdy and wanted to be liked. I grew out of it fast, found myself, and realized that all that mattered were the people who cared about me, and fuck everybody else. It was what my parents had tried to teach me all along, but it wasn’t until my later teens that I really understood the concept.
And my eleven year old friend has had that concept in the bag her whole life.

I’m not a parent. But I watch a lot of other parents in fascination. And I feel like the key to stopping future bullying isn’t banning kids from the internet forever or calling the teachers or just telling your kids to ‘ignore it’. It’s teaching your kids young to love themselves for who they are, and extend that acceptance to everyone else.

Everyone is unique, and it should be an interesting life experience to meet people different from you. Not a scary one.

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