Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vent Column: Viral Sadness

I'm going to let out something that will probably make me very unpopular, but I just can't stand it any longer. A few days ago on the Paragon Facebook feed I saw this video get posted and reposted by what seemed like every person we knew. So many of them added comments like, "If I had seen this when I was his age, my life would have been different" or "We're with you buddy, it'll be okay" or the oh-so-generic "This is why bullying is terrible."

This is the video; it's of a kid who says his name is Jonah Mowry. He claims he has been bullied since the first grade and was so depressed that he began cutting himself in the second grade. In the video, he attempts to show the scars on his arms and shoulder, but the video isn't high quality enough to really make anything out, so you can't really be sure. He doesn't speak a word and instead just keeps showing cue cards for you to read while some sad-sack music plays in the background.

I've got a few problems with this, but I'll be honest, there were a few things I hadn't thought of. After showing a good friend of mine the video, they pointed out some things and I'm going to pass them along.

The kid claims he had been cutting himself since the second grade. In the second grade, most kids aren't bathing themselves, at least not completely. I know parents of kids in this same age range and they still, at the very least, monitor their children while they bathe or shower, for safety's sake. If your kid was cutting himself, wouldn't you fucking notice that?! What's a second-grader got to cut himself with anyway? Did he use one of those little knives that the G.I. Joe toys come with? If this is indeed true, then there's some seriously bad parenting going on. I have a hunch that it's made-up bullshit.

Odds are this is just some media stunt, or something created from higher up the media chain in order to keep people distracted while something else much bigger goes down. While everyone's sitting there getting teary-eyed over some depressed 13-year-old, the government is passing laws that allow them to arrest civilians as criminals indefinitely with no right to trial or bail, without any kind of warrant or probable cause.

Now, again, if this is, in fact, legit: Grow up, kid. I was bullied since kindergarten, pretty fucking badly, too. I had kids that would make fun of me, push and shove me, poke me like I was the Pillsbury Dough Boy, call me all kinds of names that weren't true just because they knew they'd hurt. I grew up in a world of self-hatred, even from that young, but I didn't go whining about it to people on the internet. Shit, I didn't even have the internet back then. (Now I sound like someone's grandfather, haha). I powered through it all alone because I didn't want people to know how I felt inside. I felt suicidal at times, and probably came damn near close to snapping and doing something really stupid, but I didn't. I would have never thought to be so vain as to assume an entire community would give a shit. This kid isn't looking for help, he's fishing for compliments. He wants to be popular because we now live in a world where it's perfectly normal to have more friends on the internet than in real life.

To all those out there that were touched by this video, I'm not slamming you, I just think that you have your priorities out of whack. How do you know this is for real? One kid made one video with cue cards and some depressing music, and the whole online world rallies behind him. Meanwhile, real shit is going down every day all around the world and you turn a blind eye. The Earth is being destroyed, animals are being anally electrocuted for their fur, chickens and turkeys are being molested in slaughterhouses by sociopaths who can't get employment elsewhere, pigs that have been scientifically proven to be as smart or smarter than dogs, cats, and even 3-year-old children are having their heads bashed in with monkey wrenches and their throats slit as they run in circles until all the blood drains out. There are wars that are only going on to feed corporate and political greed. The governments of the world are poisoning you from the sky with chemicals. Banks are purposely taking away every red cent you have ever worked for and claiming they have no idea how to fix the financial mess THEY created. And one single depressed kid gets all your attention? You want to be humanitarians? How about adopt a child from some ghetto homeless shelter. You want to see hopelessness and depression? Go visit a nursing home on a holiday and see the terminally ill suffer through turkey pudding all alone while their families sit around a table in another town thanking "god" for all their "blessings". Go to an animal shelter like the Manhattan ACC and see the 3-week-old kittens that just came in with their mother, who will be killed the NEXT DAY if you don't adopt them because humans are selfish and dump animals on the streets when they can't take care of them or get tired of them. Wake up and see the real problems.

As far as I'm concerned, Jonah Mowry is small beans compared to the world of shit we live in and the things we both have to face on a daily basis or turn a blind eye to in order to save ourselves that large heaping of personal discomfort when we realize the system is breaking down all around us and taking us with it. But we don't care, we have our iThings and our Smart Phones, our pens that write inverted or under water or a pot that grows tomatoes upside down. We've got our Snuggies and our OxyClean, our video screens on grocery checkout lines, and SUVS with DVD players and Playstations built into the headrests. We've got Black Friday and Cyber Monday and a 4-month Christmas shopping season. We have robotic vacuum cleaners and knives that can cut through pennies. We have Slap Chops and Shake Weight Dumbbells. We have Xbox 360 with Kinect so you can pretend to take a fucking walk and exercise instead of actually going outside and taking a short jog around the block! We have every gadget and doodad we can think of and we buy them like they actually mean something or actually make our lives better/easier/more fun/whatever.

My point is that, A) I don't believe that video is real, and B) if it is real, there are much more important things to worry about.

Oh, and for anyone who thinks the kid is legit, take into consideration that his video went viral faster than most pop culture phenomena, and there is already a Facebook fan page that lists him as a "public figure".  Real or fake, your attention and caring is being exploited. How soon before he's doing "The View" or some other talk show? How soon until, assuming he's legit, his parents are sitting next to him on some talk show or news interview, all smiles while they should instead be hanging their heads in shame for the fact that they had a second grade son who was self mutilating and they never noticed.

PS - I do think bullying is terrible, but it's what kids do. Hell, it's what adults do. You grow a thick skin to it as a child, when it means nothing in the greater scheme of things, so that when you grow up and get a job the bullying you get from the larger portion of the world---your boss, your co-workers---won't hurt you as bad. If we really try to make laws against bullying and spare every child from hurt feelings, then they're never going to have the backbone to make it in the real world. It's like when germophobes wash and scrub every 15 seconds only to be decimated by the common cold because they have a weak immune system that was never properly trained to defend the body. Anti-bullying laws are unrealistic and only put in place to make overly-worried parents feel better that their son or daughter won't have to deal with anything traumatizing that may actually help build their resolve and character as an adult.

This is me, signing off.