Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Remember when radio DJ Aden Thomas posted a video on his Facebook page of a 15 year old girl threatening one of her peers? We all reacted. As parents, as consumers of digital content, as human beings… we all reacted. There is no version of the truth that would not classify this video as textbook cyber bullying. It was a disturbing thing to behold for a number of reasons:
  1. As a parent, bullying is one of my biggest fears.
  2. The age of the girls, coupled with the violent and aggressive content of the video was terrifying.
  3. I felt irrationally disgusted in this girl.
After watching the video I immediately clicked “share”- I mean, seriously, she brought this on herself by sending it out in the first place and bullies should never be coddled, right? Wrong. A few minutes later I deleted the shared post. I felt more ashamed of myself for sharing it than I initially did of the girl that made the video. Here’s why:

By sharing the post to shame the bully, we, the adults, were actively enabling mass scale bullying of this girl. By sharing this post, I was becoming the very thing that enraged me enough to want to share it in the first place.

I had my fair share of teen angst and melt downs, but I cannot remember ever feeling any kind of true animosity to anyone in my peer group. I never fought at school, I never had beef with anyone, I pretty much enjoyed my time in high school. I cannot relate to this girl at all, but as a 32 year old adult I can see that she is grappling with very real insecurities. Anyone who was truly happy with who they are would not feel the need to create this kind of video. She didn’t need thousands of adults attacking her physical appearance. Yes, her behavior and her words shocked us, but we, the grown ups should know better. 

At 15 you are in the spring your life. You are not the person you will be at 21, you are not the person you will be at 35, you are not the person you will be at 50 – your life will evolve and grow based on every experience you have. This child has gone through something most of us will never really have to experience: a published account of the worst version of ourselves. This moment in her life does not need to define her and we should not define her for it either. It’s not up to us to condemn this girl. Imagine if your most shameful moment went viral. Would you want to be judged forever by that indiscretion?

At this point I feel I need to passionately state that I am 150% against all forms of bullying. While I have not been on the receiving end of this kind of abuse, I have witnessed what it can do to a child and it is crippling. Bullying should be criminalized so that the perpetrators feel real and actionable consequences for their hatred.

Bullying a bully is not justice, it’s just another version of the same abuse.

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