Just a week ago my social media feeds were a happy place. The whole country was bound together in a blanket of lava rhinestones and national pride. Five days is a lifetime and a half online. At this moment, my social media feed is full of anger and vitriol. The recent release of a video featuring an Ateneo junior high student bullying fellow students in school has come to the attention of the general public and picked up by the media. Of course, it is upsetting. No one wants to see a child get bullied, physically or emotionally. But is the online circus really the right forum where we should be addressing this issue? Because that is what we netizens have turned this into: a circus maximus where shaming and blaming and opinion airing is more important than an actual discussion between the concerned parties. We don’t want to listen, we just want to be heard. That’s not really what we should be doing here, folks.
This newest case of bullying has sparked a discussion among my friends over text, on social media, over phone calls, in remenices, and in very, very, very long status posts. What really stuck out the most in all our cases—which spans 20-odd years and multiple schools—is that the schools can do very little but wring their hands and say they’ll do their best. In many cases, those of us who went to a teacher or a guidance counselor ended up being teased even more by our classmates and bullies for being tattletales.
It’s those of us who had parents who wouldn’t give up that stood the best chances of some sort of detente. It’s those of us who were able to go up to our parents and tell them what was going on that found a modicum of relief. Parents must take an active role in ensuring that their child feels better, feels safer, feels more secure. If the schools don’t help the parents, then the parents should talk to the other parents and open the lines of communication in a healthy and constructive manner themselves.
In my case, I gave our class bully a withering “I really can’t be bothered with your bullsh*t” look. It seems to have worked for she only bullied me whenever she couldn’t find anyone else to torture. She came along with a very tall sidekick who repeated every third word the class bully said. It was all very Mean Girls now that I think about it. I still don’t like them. I still see them on social media sometimes (I didn’t care to add either of them). I still roll my eyes.
In the opinion of those of us who were bullied in school, our schools and guidance counselors were not much help in the fight against bullying... but neither is the Internet. In this new age where we put everything out on social media—our happiness, our sadness, our scandals, and our triumphs—an open discussion is a better way do deal with things. And these constructive discussions can happen on social media, I swear! Even a Kardashian proved it!
Not too long ago, Khloe K came after an Instagram comment questioned if there was a resemblance between big sis Kim and her youngest child, Chicago, famously born via surrogate, hinting that the kid did not have Kimmy’s DNA. Turns out the follower had no idea how surrogacy works. Koko took the time to school the girl on the ABCs of surrogacy. All on Instagram. Now, see? Someone learned something new. No shame in not knowing, no hate in telling someone what’s what.
Let’s take for another example Michelle Dy, the beauty vlogger everyone loves to hate. She’s shamed followers with problem skin, copied Jeffree Star (and been called out by Le Starr himself), and lately been dragged over the coals for buying more than just socks on an unplanned shopping spree.
Now, if you’re a beauty b/vlogger, be prepared to get called out for using filters, lighting, etc. because it makes a difference in how your overall makeup look is seen in the photo. Anyone who saw Aja on Season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race knows what I’m talking about! FaceTune anyone? Slap on some more foundation and thicken that skin, honey. Don’t go insulting your followers’ skin conditions. You should be helping them, not insulting them.
Let’s not even unpack Jefree. I think Jefree said all that there is to say about that. As for the unplanned shopping spree, I’m not really sure what to think about that. Heart jokes about couture and corned beef and everyone is charmed. This chick jokes about a shopping expedition gone wild and everyone is looking for a pitchfork. So it’s low class to show the price tag. In my opinion, that sort of bragging only opens you up to robbery. But to each her own and as long as she can afford it and she hasn’t stolen the money, I say live and let live. We all wish we had 43 grand in sock money. As for those who shamed her by saying she should have just donated the money to charity… before y’all start judging, did you give to charity this holiday season? You don’t need to give 43 thousand. My friends recently dropped off a round of hotdogs and juice for merienda at an orphanage. That certainly didn’t cost much and the kids were perfectly happy with that.
The internet has become a scary place to show our opinions, especially if we are wrong. Sometimes we are innocent in our ignorance—and we should be schooled, but not in a nasty way. The Internet itself has become one giant bully, one that has much to say but listens little and shares without thinking, safe in the arms of the community that shields and protects from behind screens. We can’t change the community, but we can change ourselves and our attitude. We can change our mindset and help change the mindset of the people around us. The internet will always be there to swirl in the chaos, but we don’t have to go with the negative flow. We don’t have to swim against the tide either, we just have to get out of the water.