Being Mean: Online and Off

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Being Mean: Online and Off

By Jarred Bogens-Francisco

During the 3rd week of March, specifically the 19th through the 23rd, the radio show Here and Now had a week long special on bullying. This was a six-part series that ran just shy of an hour. Bullying can complicate  and make school difficult even during scheduled academic breaks. It also has the ability to exacerbate life challenges after graduation.

There is a popular book that came out in 2007 called Thirteen Reasons Why. Netflix recently made it into a television series, further widening its reach. This book is a fictional story about a high school girl, named Hannah Baker, who commits suicide. As a measure of revenge, she leaves a box of audio tapes to the 13 people who she holds responsible for her demise. The story is seen from the perspective of Clay Jensen. Clay is portrayed as a typical high school student who receives the box of tapes. He wonders exactly what he did to deserve them. This story may be fictional and the book and TV series have notable differences. However, bullying is still a serious issue that has become more complex because of the constant connectivity of smart devices and social media.

According to, bullying is on the decline. However, there is a newer type of bullying that adults may not be aware of called cyberbullying. Paying attention to the President’s twitter feed or related news may be opening these adults’ eyes to cyberbullying being that what he says and does on Twitter seems to be cruel, vicious and garner vast amounts of attention.

Cyberbullying is probably the most important subtopic. At least 2 of the segments during Here and Now bullying series discuss cyberbullying specifically. Melania Trump has decided to fight the scourge of online harassment while her husband says, or tweets, statements that contradict her cause; some may find this awkward or perhaps contradictory.

Speaking of badly behaved Presidents, it could be argued that the first people to seriously deal with cyberbullying were our former President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski. She is quoted in saying that she was “humiliated to death”. In 1998 Lewinsky went from being an unknown White House intern to the infamous woman who had an affair with Bill Clinton while he was in his presidency. Lewinski became labeled as “that woman”. She admits that what she did was wrong. However, she feels that the attention she personally received for her role was overblown and unprecedented. In 2015 Lewinsky gave a TED Talk entitled “The Price of Shame.” During her talk, Lewinsky admitted that her situation had become so difficult that her mom made her shower with the door open. She also mentioned Tyler Clementi, a college freshman who was secretly recorded while being intimate with another male. Clementi jumped off the George Washington bridge days after the video was put on the internet.

The most important message that Lewinsky has for people suffering from humiliation is that even when it is tough it can be endured. Lewinski’s TED talk implores, “Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: you can survive it.” We should endeavor to have compassion for ourselves and others because, “Everyone deserves compassion.”

The Here and Now segment that will probably surprise, and maybe shock, most people is about a person who came out as gay, then transgender, who admitted to being a bully of others within the LGBT community. Meredith Talusan, a transgender woman, had bullied others because she was insecure with herself. She attributes part of this to watching teen movies such as Mean Girls early in her transition. She made painful comments to other transgender people such as, “I don’t think you should wear that top.” or “I don’t think you should wear clothes that are that short.” Ironically, she was making these comments while wearing similar clothing. Talusan was bullying others to feel better about herself and avoid her own issues, as she puts it. Luckily, Talusan realized she should be more supportive of others because members of the LGBT community have plenty of serious problems which include discrimination, becoming victims of violence, and attempting suicide. It is unfortunate that many of these suicidal attempts are also successful.

There are two things that everyone can do when it comes to bullying. First, act with empathy. When someone is being bullied, a few kind words can save someone from negative feelings or stop them from harming themselves or others. Secondly, show the bully that their behavior is not acceptable. This does not necessarily mean getting in someone’s face. The idea is that if the bully is repetitively discouraged enough by those around them, they may realize that their actions are hurting others as well as how others see them.

Bullying and cyberbullying will likely continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future. If enough people do their part, perhaps we can save someone a little bit of trouble or maybe even save a life.

By | 2018-05-24T01:45:07+00:00 April 14th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments