I’m not like them, but I can pretend.

If you went to high school in the 90s you know those lyrics.

Even if you go to high school today.  You know those lyrics.

And why am I alluding to them?  Why do I want to remind us of high school? Well, simply because in the past week CNN has had a lot of coverage on the topic of bullying and cyberbullying.  And so have many other news channels.  In fact, on the cover of People magazine, they’re talking about cyberbullying and bullying. “Teen suicide tragedies: Deadly bullying.” it reads.

Even in Montreal, if you read the Gazette on Tuesday, you saw the headline: “Online menace isn’t ‘just a joke’: police” – and they’re talking about a 28-year-old man living in Montreal who is making death threats.   So really, all of a sudden, cyberbullying is in the limelight and a lot of people are now concerned about it.  Even Ellen DeGenerous spoke about it on her show, and a YouTube video of her speech went viral on Facebook.  Drake’s even talking about how he was bullied.

In local theatres, you can see the movie, The Social Network – also relevant to this very topic.

But you also may ask yourself: why is this happening?  What is it?  And what can I do to help?

Is it just a myth?  Something that is made up to describe behaviors that are totally normal and help to “build character”?  Or is it really something that we should be concerned about as responsible citizens?  Or is it simply a catch phrase that’s being used by the media to distract people from what’s really going on.  Well, honestly, I think this is what’s really going on.  Whether we’d like to admit it or not.  I also think it’s our responsibility to help educate the next generation and to help intervene if it’s happening to kids, youth, young adults, or even adults.  Let’s not forget, Tyler Clementi, after all, was a Rutgers student and he was 18 years old.  In Quebec, you are legally an adult at 18 – no longer a child – no longer just a ‘teenager’.  There are McGill students who are 18.  So yes, it’s a very pertinent and current thing.

Well, I like how Bill Cosby puts it.

watch?v=kq7QA2k-3xg

So listen to some Nirvana.  And think about what your high school experience was like.  Were you bullied?  Teased?  Did you fit in? Were you the coolest kid in school?  Whatever your high school experience was, it couldn’t have been absolutely seamless.  There were some bumps along the way and you had to learn to cope with them somehow.  But now, it seems like those bumps are getting magnified.  They’re getting enlarged.  And they’re being exposed to a much wider audience.  Worldwide.  On the worldwide web.  And once it’s out there, there is no taking it back.

I’m just suggesting that the first thing we should do is reflect.  Think back to those times.  Imagine if you were bullied, and your bullies had access to the Internet.  Or to mobile phones.  Or Xbox live. What would you do?

There is no magic-wand solution to the problem.  There’s no way to wiggle your nose and Bewitch your way out of these problems.  Some big changes need to take place, as these are symptoms of deeper issues ingrained within our society, our ethical fabric, and our spiritual selves.  A much deeper change needs to take place in order to really start to remedy and respond to this culture of bullying.  Which applies to all people, since bullying is not confined only to the weak, nor to the young.

“The sun is gone, but I have a light.”

So yes, the present situation may be slightly dark, but there is definitely hope for the future.  Many different actions need to take place not only on a local, individual level, but on an international level to address the issue of cyberbullying.  Europe is already on board with their Safer Internet Programme.  England also has many programs, institutions and organizations whose role is to combat bullying in all of its forms.  Of course each country has come up with various laws regarding digital media, while corporations have their own regulations.  Yet, I don’t think the answer is only in regulating, but in educating.  I believe that the education must start at a very early age and should teach young children values, as well as moral and spiritual concepts.  That’s all I got for now, so until next time…happy Thanksgiving!

One thought on “I’m not like them, but I can pretend.

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