By Alex Young
It’s scary and it’s real and it’s happening more and more - cyber-bullying. I’ve been on both sides of it. I’ve received it, I’ve watched it and done nothing and I even initiated it. I realize through all my experiences how horrible it is and how it’s up to everyone to make it stop, even if it’s really difficult.
The thing about bullies is that there are generally insecure people. They are the kinds of people who feel they’re in a tough situation and the only way they can see themselves out of it is to make someone else feel worse. I should know, I’ve been a bully. What I did to Melanie last year wasn’t cool and certainly wasn’t deserved. I was a jerk and I hurt someone’s feelings.
Let’s look at what I did to Melanie last year - I was lonely and saw an opportunity to kind of ‘remove’ someone I saw as the enemy. In my position at the time I saw Melanie as a threat to my friendship with Zoey and I wanted to make her look stupid and to make her kind of disappear. I’m not proud of what I did and I did learn from it, not all bullies take that lesson so quickly.
The thing about bullying is that it is kind of like a disease. Once you start doing it and getting away with it, it kind of becomes addictive. It’s like experiencing a sick ‘high’ from watching someone else suffer. I think that’s why it’s so easy for a lot of people to watch bullying without doing anything. If you see bullying, the thing you should do is tell someone, step in and try to stop it. In reality though, when you’re caught in the moment, stepping in is scary because it puts you at risk of becoming the victim.
Some people who come across bullying do the opposite of what they should and join in. That’s what we’ve been seeing with the video fights online. I don’t think that all the people watching are horrible people, I think it’s a kind of way to almost separate yourself from the moment – to act as if you are watching something from a safe distance, as if you are powerless and all you can do is watch the event. It’s messed up, but it’s what happens. Bullies have told me it’s a rush and the recording and replaying of the bullying extends that rush for as long as they play the tape. It’s sick, it’s twisted and it’s wrong.
I’m glad I know what side of bullying I want to be on – the side that stops it. I may be only one person, but if more people stand together and refuse to let bullying happen around us, it will stop. Never underestimate your own power.
Stand up for what you believe in and stay strong,