Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week, you’ve undoubtedly read the name “Amanda Todd” in the news. I don’t know if I have ever seen a topic so seemingly divided in opinion and heated debate like I have seen in these on-line discussions. I debated even blogging about this because of it’s hot button nature, but as a parent I’d be doing myself and possibly others a disservice if I simply ignored it.
Let me begin by stating, I don’t condone bullying in any form, but I understand it. There’s an old story I was told about when I was younger, about crabs. If you were to put one crab in a bucket, he will find a way to climb out and escape. However, if you place two crabs in a bucket, as one starts to climb out, the other crab will pull him back down and vice versa. They will never escape, even though there is a way to escape, one will never allow the other to get out of the bucket. We are very similar as humans in society, if we start to see someone excelling or “Getting out of the bucket”, someone will find a way to pull them back down, tear them down even, by finding a weakness. More so, we have a mechanism for fitting in with people we look up to or want to be friends with. We will pick on a common enemy (victim) and “bond” by picking on that victim so as to appear above them, or better than them. While some cases are more subtle than others, there is no mistaking everyone has or will do it at some point on this planet.
The difference between the days when I was in school and kids today, is the internet. Cyber bullying is a real term. It’s an easier way to bully others. It can be brutal beyond explanation. Often times people feel brave when typing in front of a screen, and will type things they may not normally say to someone in person. The problem is, when you put something on the internet, it’s out there for everyone to see, you can’t take it back. It will always be there. People can forward it, save it, print it. There is no going back.
That’s where Amanda’s story begins, and seemingly where it will end (eventually). For those of you who don’t know her story, here is a quick synopsis; When Amanda was 15 she spent some time on the internet in chat rooms with various people. This led to an incident (At least once) where she flashed her breasts on screen for someone else. Well, that other person was able to create a picture from a screen-grab and eventually forwarded it to someone else. Well like a seedy virus, the picture made it’s way to many people and was used against her. It started a downward spiral which included, bullying in person, and on-line. It led to her moving schools multiple times, but her troubles always followed her. A tipping point was when she slept with a classmate who was in a committed relationship. That caused a confrontation between Amanda and the boy’s girlfriend which got physical and left Amanda in a ditch being laughed at by many classmates. Well just this past September Amanda uploaded a video to YouTube (See below for link) in which she explained her story and revealed that her depression led to suicide attempts as well as “cutting” herself. The bullying never stopped and last week Amanda committed suicide and inadvertently became the face of bullied victims everywhere.
Since her death, people seem to have divided in opinion. There are those that sympathize with her and her family in the wake of her death. Then there are those who are using the internet to continue bullying her in death. Searching out her multiple memorial pages and poking fun at her expense, declaring to the world that she deserved her fate.
I have to say I have been utterly mortified at the latter. I had no idea people were capable of the thoughts I have been reading on Twitter, Facebook and various media outlets. The interesting part, is the posts that complain about the “attention” that Amanda is receiving from this. People are enraged that other victims close to them in a similar situation have fallen on deaf ears. Where are their “LIKE’s” on Facebook? Why aren’t we talking about the thousands of others who commit suicide? Is it because she is a pretty white girl? (by the way, Amanda Todd is of mixed race and not exclusively “White”) and on and on.
I truly wish I could sit face to face with some of these people and try to understand how they can be so hateful towards someone they have never met. To those of you asking “Why we are talking about Amanda instead of (Insert victim of bullying name here)?” I say go for it. Instead of pointing the finger at everyone else, look at yourself first. Use your social media skills to educate me and others about this other victim you speak of. Don’t be a hypocrite, be a part of the solution and educate us, otherwise you’re part of the problem. An example of this is a comment that came across my home feed on my Facebook which stated, and I’m paraphrasing, “My 14 year old brother committed suicide last month because he was beaten up everyday just for being gay, where’ his f*&king page?”. When I read that, my first thought was “You’re right where is his page?”. I wasn’t angry about it though, I was literally questioning why his brother hadn’t made him a page. If you want your brother to be remembered and to help others learn a lesson, then take the time to tell people about it. Start a page, use Twitter and Facebook and spread his story. That comment had over 60,000 “likes”. Imagine if he had used his time to create a page and get 60,000 ‘likes” on the story of his brother. It’s possible. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
Another person on Twitter asked “Instead of CONSTANTLY talking about Amanda Todd, why not talk about Tyler Clementi or Kyle Kenyan?”, so I responded telling him to go ahead and start the conversation. Educate me on who those people are instead of complaining about how no one talks about them. I received no response.
Instead of grabbing the crab that is “Amanda Todd’s story” as it gets out of the ‘bucket’ to the public, get behind that crab and help push it out. Tell us your story of bullying and how it’s affected you or your loved ones. Amanda’s story has gotten the ball rolling, don’t stall it by tearing it apart. Keep it rolling. Show the public why this is such an important issue and why something needs to change. A culture shift is needed and bullying needs to be seen for what it really is, a nasty insecure reaction to a need to fit in.
Also remember, whatever you put out there on the internet (including this blog), is out there for good. Think before you type. When I was younger I was told “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”… Well it’s 2012 now, maybe it’s time to update that saying “If you don’t have anything nice to post, then don’t post anything at all.”
Keep your head up and your nuts covered!
Link to Amanda’s video here;