Last week my daughter proudly wore pink to school for “Pink Day” and participated in a successful anti-bullying campaign that takes place across our nation. Her school board was tweeting pictures all day of students pledging to take a stand against the mistreatment of others. I love that they did that. It’s so important and the cause deserves a voice. But I have to say. I look at the world around me and I wonder if the influences in our culture are overtaking what we are trying to teach our kids.
During the Olympics, Canada and USA faced off in a rivalry laden hockey match. I can appreciate some good hockey smack talk and all the emotions that come with that (I live with hockey fans!) but then I saw the billboard. You know the one. It stated that the loser of the game gets Justin Beiber. That made my heart hurt. I’m not a massive Justin Beiber fan, but I am a fan of kindness. I’m a fan of humanity. I’m a fan of the younger generation. Regardless of the mistakes and bad choices he has made he’s still a human being with feelings. Those billboards were a shameful display of a nation jumping on board to be collective bullies. We laugh and we joke but I can assure you, even the biggest of celebrities have feelings and emotions. That would have hit Justin deep in the heart. Most people would think, “What does he care?” He’s famous and rich. He wants the attention. However, he’s not a robot. Being subject to that kind of treatment is hurtful. Being bullied on any level isn’t fun for anyone. Even the Biebs.
A bully laughs and mocks. A bully strikes at someone when they are down. We modeled to a whole generation of children how to do that. Then, a week later we ask them to put on pink shirts for pink day and treat others with respect. And we wonder why our message isn’t getting across. Why bullying is such a problem in our culture. The hypocrisy of our message brings confusion.
This morning on my way to work I listened to the latest scoop on Rob Ford. I blogged about him months ago http://shellycalcagno.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/dear-mayor-ford-a-letter-from-a-mom and we know he still isn’t making good choices. We all know it’s a big mess. But with the share of a video or the power of a quick retweet – we love to hit people when they are down. Share their failures and mistakes and laugh at their expense. Social media allows us to express our opinions in a wide collective pool. The failures, embarrassment and stories gain traction like never before. One mistake and you are trending in seconds, with the whole world joining in for the ride.
Who is our next target?
Who can we ridicule?
Who can we mock?
Bully culture needs to change
We can change it
It’s controlled by us
What we share. What we express. How we respond. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone else. It’s easy to be part of a mob mentality and jump on the bandwagon. It’s harder to take a stand for kindness. There will always be stories. We will always hear about them and many of them are crucial. Rob Ford’s story is important politically. It does affect people. Justin Bieber driving while impaired is serious. It’s no joke. But where do we draw the line? I recorded the Kimmel interview with Ford but I just couldn’t watch it. It made me so uncomfortable. I had to turn it off. I don’t want to watch Justin stumbling at the police station after his arrest. It provides more material for discussion, more things to laugh about and more things to mock. Seeing a person, no matter who they are and whatever bad decisions they have made being ridiculed makes my heart hurt.
This all sounds so self-righteous. It’s not meant that way. I’m not perfect. I’ve love a juicy story as much as anyone. I get addicted to news. I’m guilty of sharing, gossiping and mocking. We all are. Then I project that onto my own life. I’ll be criticized for writing this. I’m always afraid of how I am perceived. I over think everything I blog/post these days trying to make sure it’s acceptable from every lens. Living in a state of self-edit that won’t cause the wrong reflection or response. Causing me to retreat further and further inwardly wondering what is ok to share. Bully culture affects us all.
I don’t care so much about me though
I’ll get through the bully seasons in my life
I think about those children proudly wearing their pink shirts
Things need to change
Let’s take a stand for treating others well
Let’s live a worthy example of kindness in our world
Thanks for writing about this Shelley. It needed to be said.