Saturday, January 7, 2012
Apparently one of the biggest problems our young people have today is bullying. Bullying has always existed. “Our Gang” comedy movie shorts had many episodes where Butch and Worm (Woim) picked unmercifully on Spanky, Alfalfa and other “Little Rascals”. In my day there was always a kid that wanted your lunch money, or just pushed you around for the heck of it. If bullying has always been around, why is it such a big problem today?
Back in the day, bullies could be avoided. You could hide your lunch money, take a different route to school, or hang around in groups to avoid or discourage a bully. Sometimes you just had to stand up to a bully. You either socked him in the eye and he left you alone, or he socked you in the eye and that was usually the end of it.
Today, courtesy of computer and cellular technologies, bullying has reached a new level. You can’t hide from computer social networks or text messaging. It reaches you at school and at home, and reaches everyone you interact with as well. Bullies have not gotten worse; technology has just made them more “productive”.
The internet has allowed bullies to do their thing 24/7. Today’s bullies can torment with anonymity. When Butch and Woim were torturing Spanky and Alfalfa they did it in private. Their victims did not lose face in front of more than a few people, and they had the opportunity to fight back, however unsuccessful that may have been.
Victims of bullying today have their embarrassment plastered over Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The world witnesses their torture. The world views their weakness. The world sees their shame. It is more than many can endure.
Bullies today are no different from ages ago. They are still spineless weaklings who boost their own sense of worth and esteem by beating down others whose weakness is of body or differences rather than of mind and spirit. As the pistol has turned the young punk into a feared robber, and the nuclear bomb has turned the smallest rogue nation into a terrorist threat, so has technology changed the bully from a nuisance to a demon.
The weak immature unfinished brain of the mean-spirited bully has gone from an annoyance to be avoided and then pitied to a serious threat to taunt and destroy the defenseless and the “different.”
The tool used to make today’s bullies so effective was invented and developed by the same nerds, geeks and “different” people that are being bullied today.
I don’t have an answer to the bullying problem, but it cannot be brushed aside as something that all generations have endured. It is no longer just a small pothole in the road to adulthood, it has been escalated by technology into a major threat to destroy lives.
There was a time when you could argue that bullying in some ways made our youth stronger. The claim could be made that bullying tempered the metal of the weak and prepared them for the world. Today’s bullying technology has applied more stress than most metal can take. We can no longer look the other way. A “boys will be boys” mentality can no longer be tolerated.
Attitudes must be changed.