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.
Copyright ©2017 by Pradita Kapahi.
All rights reserved.
Image Source: Business Insider