There’s an epidemic in our culture these days, and it is disheartening.
Most of it is unwarranted and unprovoked. Most of it hides behind a cloak of anonymity in the social networking universe that has engulfed our generation. Some are hurt, repeatedly, for years without even being able to recognize their attacker.
I am not referring to a specific hate crime. Rather, I am talking about a crime to which we are all subjected: human-on-human crime. As a race, we have this uncanny ability to be mean.
Plain and simple, meanness is our epidemic, and people are suffering every day.
For years, my mother would try to make me feel better and tell me that the girls who tormented me in middle school were “jealous” and “insecure” and that was why they victimized me in the lunchroom.
However, sometimes this meanness had nothing to do with their insecurities or lives; sometimes, people are just mean.
Much like coldblooded murder, there can very well be coldblooded bullying: unprovoked, unwarranted meanness.
Now, when I attended middle and high school, things were different. There was no real anonymity. I knew which girls wanted to humiliate me. I sat next to them in class.
They would sign their actual names on their mean notes to me in-between periods.
These days, it’s different. Like most diseases, human-on-human crime has grown to be stronger over time, and it has mutated into something we know exists. However, we are still not sure how to fight successfully.
Things are scarier now; this world of anonymity has brought with it no sense of accountability for words said. So, in turn, the words get sharper and more pointed, which pierces victims even deeper.
There are some people who would rather die at the age of 13 than live their lives. How sad is that? They want to die before they even really begin to live.
This is how mean we have become. Kids who have bedtimes and babysitters are having real suicidal thoughts during this time that is supposed to be the most carefree time of their lives.
Human-on-human crime needs to stop; it is causing irrevocable destruction to lives -- for what? What pleasure do we get out from hurting another person?
I am no saint. I have been a victim, yes, but I have been on the other side of the hurtful whisper, as well. I have done more good than bad in this life, and I make an honest effort to try to do good every day.
My middle school days are far behind me; however, just last year, I found myself, once again, the target of someone’s unwarranted meanness over the Internet. Unlike most attacks these days, I knew who my attacker was, as I once considered this person to be a good friend.
I turned 27 that year and I found myself in a really bad space. While everyone around me wanted to celebrate my life on my birthday, I found myself, for the first time ever, wondering if the world would be a better place without me.
I found myself coming across the hurtful Internet posts and wondering why I was still dealing with this.
I wondered whether the world would be a better place without the people who purposely did harm to others. The answer was no; the world would not be a better place without these people. However, it would be a better place, if those people were a little bit nicer.
In the Beastie Boys' song, "Flowin' Prose," one lyric states,
...and more ink from my pen and more tears from my eyes. And more crimes are committed as I say these lines.
Those words could not ring any truer today. I am sure that, even as I am writing this, there are people crying themselves to sleep and even hating on this post about why we need to stop hating.
I believe that as much as we are the problem, we can also be the solution. I ask that you share this if you plan to make a conscious effort each day to be a little bit nicer. Share this if you will make an honest effort to do something as simple as just shaking it off when the barista messes up your morning coffee.
Share this if instead of using the Internet to hurt someone, you will use it to empower people and make others feel good about themselves. Life is short. Spend your time here wisely, and just be nice to people.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It