We’ve all had our share of experiencing injustices and taking harsh, unpleasant words. Sometimes these words are justified, and sometimes they are not. When we are criticized by others, once or twice is enough. However, when others begin to criticize us constantly for being a certain way or for no reason at all, their words have crossed the boundary between constructive criticism and bullying.
This year, I decided to become a member of Stop The Rage, an organization dedicated to stopping cyber bullying by helping to pass legislation on the issue. It’s only been a few months, but it’s shocking to hear about the many suicides that have occurred over time because of cyber bullying. Even as I type this, the names of victims pass through my mind: Alexis Pilkington, Tyler Clementi, Phoebe Prince… (the list goes on). And what’s worse is how the majority of these kids are my age. When we discuss the topic of cyber bullying, we are discussing how these kids, who haven’t even lived for two decades, are victims of their own peers (some are actually victims of adults as well). In a way that may seem severe to some, however, I consider cyber bullying a virtual war that has affected many, many people in real life. We all know about cyber bullying, and I’m sure we’re all familiar with the feeling of power that comes with hiding behind a gray face of anonymity.
However, no matter how much we dislike somebody and have the power to insult them, we have no right to tell them how to live, or to criticize them out of hate. Let me tell you if you don’t like somebody, the best thing to do is stay away from them. Have nothing to do with them if you don’t enjoy their company or their ways. If you do resort to bullying them anonymously on the internet (and yes, a few mean comments here and there IS bullying) think about the consequences before you do it again. Think about the feelings that would come rushing at you if you were to find out they committed suicide because of the words that you said out of hate. Words have power. And the internet gives many, both children and adults, the ability to abuse that power. This has to be stopped. The most tragic thing about suicides relating to cyber bullying is that fact that they didn’t have to happen. These kids didn’t have to give up the rest of their lives because of words spoken out of ignorant hate.
Start the change with yourself if there’s the need to, and then move on to your friends and your community. Promote kindness, promote the fact that hate is never the answer. Want to get involved beyond your community? Visit us at stoptherage.org. We are open to more people joining our board of directors. So to all that have been affected by cyber bullying, know a victim, or simply have a good heart: it is time to step up to the plate. It is time to stop cyber bullying in its tracks so that we don’t have to hear these young lives cut short any longer.
Susan Lin is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. Although she was born in Brooklyn, New York, she’s an all California girl. Currently on her journey through high school, Susan wants to become more involved with the world and community around her while pursuing her dreams of journalism and design.