Unpopular: We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB

Cut me and I bleed, 

Hurt me and I weep.

Rebuke me and I cringe, 

Touch me and I shrink. 

Mock me, it stings, 

Prank me, no ‘fun’ it brings. 

Bully me and I cower, 

Unfriend me; loneliness tastes sour.

Folks, they say, ‘get over it’, 

But they’ll never know the hidden bits. 

When darkness even in broad daylight resides, 

And hope and trust take a screaming flight. 

Faceless faces they scream, 

‘Unpopular’, it haunts my dreams. 

Days blur into a string of jibes, 

One mistake stirs the beehive.

Classrooms, hallways, washrooms, canteens, 

Wherever I go, the stares burn into me. 

What makes you so much better than me? 

When does this end? Why only me? 

Or maybe it will never end, 

Or maybe it will, when ‘I’ end. 

It’s the last Friday of this month again, and that brings us to the third month of the  We Are The World Blogfest, which aims at spreading some light in these dark, depressing times we live in, restore our faith in humanity, through news and stories that uplift the human spirit and give us hope.

But this time I’m not feeling hopeful. Why? Because last night I watched the season finale of the Netflix series, Thirteen Reasons Why. It’s one of the most talked about shows and has stirred all kinds of debates on how it depicts teen suicides, school bullying, peer pressure, rape and parent expectations.

After I was done watching the show, like I usually do, I googled the reviews to read what others thought of it. I was in for a shock. Some, no, make that many, thought that the lead character was an ‘attention seeking b*#@h‘. Some even thought it trivialized the issues or conversely, glorified teen suicides by devising a way to take revenge on the bullies. Ok granted, recording tapes for your bullies to hear and repent over is a twisted way of taking revenge, but people, this is fiction. It has to have an element of novelty in it or else would you watch a run of the mill show on teenage depression and suicide? No, right?  In real life I doubt a teen who’s troubled at school or at home is ever going to have the mindspace to record a series of 7 tapes by way of suicide notes, so let’s not compare the series’ prop of using tapes to tell the tale of a problem that we all know, but fail to address. Can we try to distance ourselves from the plot-holes (yes, I agree there were mahy) and how good or bad a ‘mystery show’ it was, and instead focus on whether the series was able to make the point it had promised to make?

This show is trying to convey to us that sometimes it all starts with a harmless joke. That we, as a civil society, are failing to breed civility and good values into our kids when they become the perpetrators of bullying, rape, assault and other delinquent behavior, when we encourage attitudes like the ones ‘Bryce’, or ‘Justin’ or ‘Jessica’ had, when we empower them by overlooking their mistakes, because they are the heroes of the school or the belles of the block or the smartest kid in school. I thought the series tackled these problems that are interconnected with teen suicides very well. Hannah, the female lead, to me, was a troubled teenager who tried her best to overcome the worst, even rape, and suicidal tendencies. She tried to make friends and stay good and laugh it all off. But in the end, it just got too much for even her, as I can imagine it would get for anyone under such circumstances.

For a long time the scene where Hannah cuts her wrists sitting in a bathtub, haunted me well into the night. There was nothing too graphic in the scene. I’ve seen more gory stuff. But the idea that someone could feel so lonely to end themselves over being bullied mercilessly, stuck with me. It bothered me that our definitions of ‘cool’, ‘beautiful’, ‘intelligent’ and ‘normal’ are putting too much pressure over our younger population.

We’ve gone through this ourselves to some extent. If we were unpopular, we’ve suffered the sniggers. If we were popular, we’ve borne the burden of unrealistic expectations. Either way, adolescence is getting more difficult as humanity ages, when it ought to be a time of exploring, enjoying and imbibing good experiences.

When the bedrock of our value system, our homes and schools, breed bedlam, what will our future be like?

Parents, teachers and students, please, stop being blind to bullying. Help when you know someone is troubled.

Be the change.

P.S. – I know I was supposed to write a hopeful article for this month, and keep it under 500 words, but this weighed too heavily on my mind to ignore.

18555851_100676450514066_4494546682437471084_n.jpgCopyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.

All rights reserved.

Image Source: Business Insider

14 thoughts on “Unpopular: We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB

  1. I was bullied as a child, as were many. However, I am hopeful that things are improving to some extent. When I was young it was ignored, considered “character building”, however now there is more of a spotlight on its lingering aftereffects. Growing up there weren’t many tv shows about it, but the fact there is today and there is a dialogue about it through media. Good or bad, in my opinion, talking about it is progress. Today, although it still happens, there seems to be less tolerance from what I’ve seen, I have watched a neighbours child call out another child for being a bully, I’ve seen people stand up for others on social media, I definitely think there is a shift in how we view it. We aren’t making huge steps but I think we’ve made some…hopefully, with time, and awareness, things will change. Posts like these start a dialogue. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing! #WATWB
    Belinda Witzenhausen~Writer, Creativity Coach & Artist

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Belinda. I’m really sorry to hear that you were bullied, and you are right, many have been. i was too but not to such a great extent. You are also right in pointing out that now its become an issue and people are waking up to it, where 10 years from now ‘ragging’, as its called in India, was considered a part of the school/college initiation. A decade ago we had a horrible incident of a student from a premier insitute in India who killed himself over being ragged and pissed over as part of the college ragging ‘culture’… It shook the country to do something about it, but things are still far from better. But like you, I too hope that it will be better. What shocked me was how some people who reviewed the show mocked the lead character and called her attention seeking or deluded. I read anpother one where the reasons why she killed herself were considered not ‘great enough’. If this happened to a real girl, and I’m sure it must have happened (like in the Audrie and Daisy documentary that is based on real incidents of school bullying), would such a girl be ‘attention seeking’? This insensitivity to the issue is what forced me to write. I’m glad you concur and we both agree to hope that it gets better. Thank you for coming here 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve never watched the show. However, I agree with Belinda that bullying has been going on for a very long time and at least now it is being talked about. In a way, you have brought this continuous darkness into the light. Thanks for being a part of #WATWB

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lynn. Sorry, it took me so long to reply. I don’t know why your comment went into my spam folder.

      Thank you for visiting and reading my post. Yes, it’s being talked about now so we are getting somewhere. I just wish people would stop being insensitive to this issue. They think it isn’t serious enough to be tackled head-on. But it is.

      Thanks again and have a great day 🙂


  3. Pradita, your poem gets to the heart of the matter, beautifully expressed thank you. Your post too is excellent. I haven’t seen the series but it sounds as if it’s much needed for people to face up to the facts. ‘This show is trying to convey to us that sometimes it all starts with a harmless joke’ says it all.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks a lot Susan for your kind appreciation and encouragement, My point in writing about the series was not to talk about the series itself but about the issue it’s centered on, and to make people understand that we as viewers, have a responsibility to not pander to sensationalism and increasingly more graphic stories on death and tragedy. In real life, those who have been bullied have ended their lives for lesser than what has been depicted in this show. But that does not mean that their deaths were any less tragic. So let’s not compare reality to reel life, and just appreciate the content of the show, is what I was trying to say with this post. Thank you so much again. And may the Force be with you too 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pradita, I knew that a visit to your post would be rewarding! Oh boy, where do I start? First, thanks so much for the poem. I love it and that you included a poem. I have not seen the show either, and part of me doesn’t want to. I’ve been with suicide survivors, buried suicide victims and even lost my dear brother to suicide.
    One day I’ll be brave enough to post about my story with suicide. But, not this day. Thank you for posting on this very important challenge in our human family. As for building resilience in young people, a reputable adolescent psychologist in my country, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, visited our town recently. I’m listening to an audio version of one of his books at the moment, ‘When to Really Worry’ https://www.amazon.com/When-to-Really-Worry/dp/B008PPGZFG/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1496659655&sr=8-5&keywords=Michael+Carr-Gregg . Thanks for being in our blogfest Simon’s Still Stanza #WATWB

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Simon. Thank you so so much for these encouraging words. But I’m shocked to hear that an inspiring man such as you has gone through so much loss and the pain that cones with it. I understand why you wouldn’t want to watch the show because it may remind you if things best left forgotten. Thank you for the link. I will be sure to check it out since I’m very eager to help adolescents who have been scarred by this delinquent behaviour that we pass off as ‘growing up pains’ on our societies. Thank you once again and have a great day 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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