Recent news accounts about the latest poor teenaged bullying victim who saw suicide as the only way out has set me thinking. Is bullying more prevalent today then it was in the 50’s and 60’s when I was learning my way in the world? I doubt it. Bullying has been around forever. Goliath comes to mind.
- Is it that the media is more omnipresent today?
- Does the internet makes it easier for bullies to throw constant barbs at the bullied?
- Does the idea that the internet may have already spread the viciousness before the victim has even seen it make him or her even more victimized
Yes and yes, and maybe.
What’s different about today’s bullying is the way it’s carried out. But I think that in blaming the internet I’m shooting the messenger. I should be shooting the computer, lap top, iPhone iPad, – all the devices that have made a best buddy out of the almighty screen. So when that best buddy delivers all those barbs and vicious names, who is there to turn to?
When I was young (aagh, did I just write those four words? How many times did I silently gag when either of my parents uttered them) But as I was saying, back in the day bullying was “in your face.” This was because we spent every waking hour out playing. There was nothing worse than going out and finding “No one to play with”. We were out in the street after school, weekends, summers, and at lunchtime recess – yes we played outside on our lunch hours ( and yes it was a full hour. )
And so when bullies struck they did so out in the open. Bullies need an audience, otherwise why bother. But whereas today’s victims suffer the verbal slings alone, at home, in front of their screens, the bullied back then, if she was lucky had a friend or a kind-hearted soul who at best would stand up for her, or at least, offer a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear. Not to toot my own horn, but I can recall befriending two different girls on different occasions in third or fourth grade when they were made fun of for whatever reason. Hold on, maybe I touched on it right there. Made Fun Of.
Although it was anything but fun for the bullied, and undoubtedly left scars, the bully almost seemed benign and as if he/she was having fun as compared to today’s spineless bully sitting in the silent safety of his/her keyboard, typing a relentless destructive onslaught to go out instantly to who knows how many screens
The old fashioned open, in the present bullying may also have brought fellow victims together and forged friendships, in a Revenge of the Nerds, in numbers there is strength, type of pact.
I myself had an early encounter with bullying. Very early! I was probably about 4 when I’d come upstairs to our apartment crying that “Roni hit me. ” Yes, lower your jaws, at four, I was allowed out by myself – right in front of the building. All the kids were. Back then every city block was its own little small town. Neighbors were coming and going, and mothers did keep an eye on us from the window. Roni was my age, and lived in the next building.
After the second or third day of this, my mother had had enough. And although her method will never appear in the politically correct parenting handbook of modern times, she solved my problem instantly and once and for all.
She didn’t come downstairs and have a heart-to-heart eye level talk with Roni; nor did she have a talk with Roni’s mother. She had a talk with me. “If you don’t hit Roni back, the next time you come home crying, I’m going to hit you too.”
And so the next time it happened I hit Roni back, and ya’ know what? Not only did she never hit me again, we were best buddies from that day on, and all through grade school until high school when her family moved to California
So what am I trying to say? I don’t really know. I’m not making light of the effect of bullying on victims now or then. I just think that when it was delivered out in the light of day, The victim had to act. Maybe it was to run away. Maybe it was to cry. But it was instant and direct, in a Bart Simpson type of way. There wasn’t as much time for it to fester.
So make of this rambling post what you will, all I’m saying is social media can be awfully anti-social.
And if you have any thoughts on bullying I’d really like to hear them.