My first day of high school was one I would never wish to relive – the girls on the bus placed a ball of gum in my hair which forced the school nurse to cut off half my hair. I ate lunch in the bathroom to avoid looking ridiculous in the cafeteria. They followed me and poured soda on me from opposing sides as I cried into my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Thankfully, Facebook was not around to allow my humiliation to go viral throughout the school. This was back in the time of old -fashioned gossip – people had the decency to talk about you behind your back and shun you rather than make you a spectacle for other people’s insecurities.
A 12 year old girl in Queens hung herself the other day because of cyber-bullying…and I have questions. Not for the parents – we adolescents are such good actors that I don’t fault them for not noticing something was wrong. I have questions for the bully…
Dear Anonymous Bully,
I do not know you – I don’t know if the reason you call the skinny, non-athletic boy a “homo” in gym is because you secretly harbor romantic thoughts concerning members of the same gender or because you have no idea what the word means. I don’t know if you called the girl who got to second base at the school dance a “slut” because you are projecting your feelings of shame, as a result fo your stepfather raping you, onto her or because you were jealous that she was with the boy you like. I don’t know you – but the thing is, I could know you.
We might meet one day – you might be my waiter or the person interviewing me for my job. You could be my pharmacist or my son’s math tutor. You could be my best friend. But in addition to those things you could be, and the relationships we could have, there is one thing you will always be – a cowardly murderer.
Sure, you don’t think or yourself that way – I mean, it’s not your fault he/she killed him/herself. You’ll tell yourself that people shouldn’t take things too personally, that you meant it as a joke or that you thought s/he knew it was all in good fun. You might even rationalize your behavior by saying that everyone else was doing it. But you’re wrong – not about everyone else doing it, but about the fact that you’re not to blame.
You think because you sit behind a computer screen or hide yourself in a crowd of people that you automatically waive your responsibility and guilt? A life has ended because of your cowardice. A spirit has been destroyed by your anonymous judgement. A future is erased for the sake of your cheap laughs.
So now you’re faced with a decision – you can either be a murderer…or a mass murderer. You can change your ways and be a better person – or you could destroy more lives.
As I said, I don’t know you…but I hope I know the person you’d like to become. Stop the hate. Embrace the differences of others. And get offline.
A future mother who wants her child to survive high school