Tuesday, September 18, 2012

of bullies and cyber-bullies

Yesterday one of my college classmates posted on her Facebook Page:

5773 -- How did your year begin? Mine began with cyber-bullying. I returned home from Rosh Hashanah services to find an article posted to my Facebook page, with a long litany of comments from "friends" and congregants alike, all laughing at my expense. This was from an event that occurred when I was 16. These people are all in their 40s and 60s now, and I find it sad that they thought it was appropriate to publicly gossip as they did. No matter our age, words hurt. I hope your 5773 is off to a better start than mine.

I am not including her name.

I spent all day thinking about her, about her hurt and disappointment and frustration.  I keep going back to it, adults in their 40s participating in behaviors that I would not want my children participating in.

Everyone brings up concerns about bullying in schools, about teens misusing the public forums of social media, the potential for one hurtful comment to multiply exponentially in cyberspace- but how are we to expect our children to behave when their parents cannot?

I read an analysis of the mass attraction to The Hunger Games some time ago.  The author of the article   suggested that perhaps young people were drawn to the story because they can relate to a world in which the adults cannot be depended upon to act like adults.  According to the article young people today appreciate Katniss's self reliance and her inner sense of justice, her ability to move in the world with absent parents.

I am still thinking about this today (and in my world of interruptions and incomplete actions and kids zooming to and fro that is a long time!).  I think because it threatens to punch a hole in my theory that we are all growing up together.  That the things I did when I was 16 (some of them made me cringe then, some make me cringe now, a few I'm proud of) can be put into the context of "growing up" and seen 20 years later with some grace.  I like to think that when I run back into people that I extend them some grace regarding the things they did 20 years ago and look at who they are now and put it all into some context. (Okay, honestly I am better at that with some people than others.  But I am intentionally trying.)

I look at my 16 year old self and I see her as smart, immature, passionate, outspoken, artsy, confused.  And frankly I kind of miss her.  That passion got her into trouble, but it was energizing.  That artsy-ness  left her off doing her own thing but she created some wonderful pieces.  The confusion led to all sorts of conflicting ideas and beliefs and I still have many conflicting ideas and beliefs that I'm still trying to sort out.  And I've kind of come to terms with the fact that my beliefs are conflicting.  But I think my point is-

We all have to grow up.  And it is messy business.  I tell that to my kids.  Your story will have highs and lows, proud moments and embarrassing moments, bruises and scrapes.  But it is your story, and through it you become who you are.  I really hope my children find the ability to extend to themselves grace, and extend it to others.  Better than I am able to.  I wish I could teach that to all those people posting hurtful things on my friend's Facebook page but I'm still learning it myself.  I cling to the idea that by teaching my kids to live in grace, they will be able to impact those around them.  And I find reassurance in knowing that while my friend was hurt by this incident, she too is a grown up.  And she has others in her community to turn to offer support and love to counter all this negativity.

So E, I'll sign off by offering you thoughts of Peace and Grace this day.


Michelle said...

Well, I have to say that I have run into people, and some on FB, who like to hash out old memories. I don't really find that a fun activity. I am much more interested in the person I have become, and THEY have become. Why do people want to tease like that?

FoxyMoron said...

I have also found that some things never change, no matter what age certain people are. With my old high school pals the same games seem to be played now, as way back then.
I am so sorry for your friend, that must have been very difficult for her.