C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

Come for the flash mob VIDEO. Stay to think about why word choice matters.

 

The power of the pink shirt inspires me. When I was in high school, a guy would have definitely been harassed and probably been beaten if he wore a pink shirt. (Notice I didn’t say beaten up. For some reason, “up” trivializes what it really is.)

I don’t even care for the word “bullying.” I know schools everywhere have anti-bullying campaigns, but that trivializes the act, as well. If an adult tries to bully another adult, we don’t call it that. We call it assault and we call the police and a lawyer. Children are more vulnerable because we say “boys will be boys” and “girls are just like that sometimes.” Boys fight. Girls typically employ social shunning behaviors to manipulate their victims. Both sexes do damage that lasts.

What is the point of videos like this? I think it shows kids there are better ways to be cool than to be angry loners. The kids in this video are having fun doing something positive together. Kids who bully or are bullied are not having fun. These issues tear me up now more than ever because I worry for my son. Perhaps because he’s profoundly colorblind (or way cooler than his dad was at his age), social anxiety around the color of clothing is a mystery to him. He’s much more open to trying new things than I was. His life is richer because it’s not ruled by fear of criticism, failure, derision or violence.

Unlike me. I was an angry loner. I was bullied until I learned self-defense. That’s how I coped at the time, but it wasn’t the best way. I mistook fear and wariness for respect. You can’t have a sense of humor when you’re wound that tight. You don’t try new things or go out of your way to meet new people and make friends because everyone is a potential risk.

Bullies and victims come to share something: oversensitivity to any slight, real or imagined. (Maybe they’re that writer in your critique group that went home enraged and never came back.)

My training did give me some confidence, but it also made me suspicious and hyper-reactive. ¬†I was still trapped in fear. I was afraid I’d have to fight. I was afraid of getting hurt. I was afraid my rage would boil over and I’d go too far. (And yes, sadism breeds sadism and victims can become victimizers.) I was afraid to be honest and connecting with others was a risk. Community is a threat when all you expect is violence and criticism. Violence in our words and our actions¬† breeds life’s bystanders.

Your words matter. Choose them carefully. Use them well and they can stimulate, educate and entertain. Choose them poorly and you may rob yourself and the victim of dignity for a day. Or the victim may live a smaller life forever after because of your influence.

Are people glad to see you coming? Think about that.

And this:

Adults shamed as children.

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