A Band of Bullies
In today’s world, stopping bullying has become the thing to do, yet most people when on social bully without thinking.
“What?” you say. “I would never do that!”
Really? Think about the posts you’ve made. Do you share a post putting down a political candidate, laughing about another’s beliefs, or ridiculing what another person has said? That’s bullying, my friend. Plain, pure, and simple, you are bullying someone else because of their beliefs.
Today’s bully doesn’t terrorize the schoolyard. They don’t lay in wait for someone to walk past. They take to social media and create posts where others who believe as they do agree with their words and pass them on to everyone else as a type of gospel we all should follow. And don’t dare contradict these internet bullies with facts. They’ll turn them around and attack you for your own beliefs.
I address bullying as a theme in Inits, a book about a teen going through his first year of high school. It’s traditional schoolyard bullying with a tongue in cheek look at how others advise him how to deal with the problem. Alex never goes onto social media, as his interests haven’t gone in that direction. He discovers a solution to the problem himself and goes through with it.
If he were faced with the current mode of ridiculing someone because of their faith, their stance on an unpopular trend, or his political beliefs, he might do as many are on social media—remain silent because we know what awaits us if we do speak up.
The next time you decide that posting your beliefs in such a way that you make others feel they can’t respond because of how they will be attacked, sit back for a moment. Contemplate how you would feel if you were put in that position. Then ask yourself, “Is this really worth my time and effort to post, if I were to be responsible for bullying someone?” You might be surprised by the answer.
We all have beliefs. They differ. That’s what makes us good friends. If everyone we connect with were to become carbon copies of ourselves, we would soon find that we were bored to tears. Diversity is what makes us who we are, even if we are miles from realizing that.
Alex Starkey is a normal teenager with unfortunate initials. Initials which have been his nemesis his entire life. Initials matter when all the kids call each other by them instead using their names.
If that isn’t awkward enough, there’s Payne, who’s made a career out of bullying kids he thinks deserve it. Alex’s inits make him a target. Alex can deal with that on his own, until Payne crosses the line and tries to force him into doing things with long-range consequences. That’s when Alex stands up and faces him down.