In this great country we have freedom of speech. We have the right to express ourselves. We have freedoms and rights up the wazoo.
That having been said, my question is:
Just because we can do something, we have the right to, should we?
I recently had a conversation with a teacher about a thirteen-year-old student that physically lashed out at another student for calling her fat. When you first read that you may think, well that sucks that she was called fat but hitting is excessive. But what if I told you she was called fat in front of the whole class, twenty-five students, and they all laughed at her? Does that change your perception a bit? So the teacher called her parents to tell them what happened. So I said, “Did you call the parents of the name-caller too?” The teacher said no. Hmm. She explained to the so-called “fat girl”, that in life people are going to say things you don’t like and you just have to learn to deal with it.” I think that’s the wrong message.
I write for young adults. What they say to each other matters. What they post about each other matters. So what I say to them or about them matters. What I say about other adults also matters because the young people I write for, and live with, are always watching, online and in person. Always.
Should you punch everyone in the face that talks crap you don’t like? No. You’ll go to juvie or jail. But on the flip side of that, let’s make the name callers accountable too. Let’s hold each other accountable.
Social media is BANANAS. I live in the Northeast but because of the internet I have the opportunity be friends with all sorts a peeps all over the world, young and not so young 😉 Bananas!
But it’s not all love and sunshine through these cable wires and satellite dishes. It’s gotten a bit ugly out in cyber world. This past week I have read some awful things written about a YA author. I do not wish to comment other than to say just because you can write something doesn’t mean you should.
I’m not talking about censorship. If I want to write about a gay, purple-shoe-wearing, elephant-riding, hippo, that’s my right and you can’t tell me not to. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it. But written opinion about an actual person is different.
YA and MG authors write for young people. We tell them NOT to be bullies. We use examples of cyber-bullying that results in suicide for plot lines to drive home the fact that words matter. What you say counts. You can’t just swing your verbal blade and not care whose head gets cut off or whose guts spill out onto the floor. Well, you can, but that makes you an asshole. I prefer not being an asshole as much as possible.
So here’s the thing. We teach by what we do. So if we’re online being creeps to each other what are we teaching the very people we write for?
I’m no angel. My mother is probably saying a rosary and making the Sign of The Cross in my name right now as you read this. My anger has gotten the best of me more than a time or two. I can do better. But the big balls that are displayed in the hit and run posting, is not cool. Not cool at any age at any time.
Calling someone names and getting a class of twenty-five to laugh at someone sucks. Calling names on the internet where thousands if not millions get involved is beyond sucky.
I live with two amazing teenagers. My husband and I tell them every day; don’t let the assholes get to you today because there are a lot of them out there. My husband says “jerks” because his potty mouth is not as extensive as mine.
My point, without getting too preachy, is let’s not be the assholes. Young, youngish, and old as dirt, we can all do better.
PEACE…Spread it like fertilizer and watch the love grow.