Some time ago, I came across a Facebook page. You might have seen it. It was about a 15 year old Canadian girl called Amanda Todd who committed suicide on October 10th. I watched the video. It was something that, seeking help, she had recorded herself; it was about things that had been done to her which I can only call cruel, and her struggle with verbal, physical and cyber bullying.
Now there are times when words don’t quite seem to be enough; they don’t always encompass the full scope of their sentiment, of what they mean – they can lack the ability to evoke anything profound in you. Whilst this is not totally the case with ‘bullying’, recently there is a certain lack of surprise that troubles me whenever I hear about cases like this. I feel solemnity and sadness, sympathy, empathy – sometimes horror – but never pure surprise. I suppose because bullying is not unheard of.
But isn’t that strange? Bullying not being unheard of?
After all, to compromise somebody else’s well-being as was done in this case not only shows a dearth of compassion; in doing so you overstep the extent of your rights.
By this, I mean that arguably your ‘self’ – the amalgamation of your body and mind – is the one thing you’re entitled to have full control over. So by saying something that will hurt somebody else or doing something to hurt somebody else, you literally overstep the extent of your rights. Even freedom of speech itself, by law, has limitations. And as Courtney Love (Hole front woman and general beacon of candor in a world of sensitive ears) once said, ‘No-one has the right not to be offended’.
Still, ordinarily I would say that the aforementioned are things we’re all consciously aware of – i.e., if you asked somebody whether they thought it was right people hurt other people, they would say no.
Yet apparently even this is debatable.
From the comments below the video, I was surprised to see that there were certain people mocking her – people who thought that, because she made certain mistakes, she ‘deserved it’.
I have, at times, and to varying degrees, overstepped my boundaries. I would like to think I have a sense of when I do. But their comments made me wonder. For example: ‘She deserves it’ – is that what the bullies were thinking? If so, did they think of themselves saints – and if so, is human nature really that formulaic and distorted? Did they know what they were doing?
And in addition to that: if I met them, would I immediately recognize that they were the sort of people who could bully someone? It’s somewhat uncommon to meet someone for the first time and all at once find them both immoral and repugnant. So were they normal? But is it normal to find out someone you bully has tried to take their own life, and make a joke out of it? And continue bullying?
In the end however, speculate as I may on whether it’s normal or not, there’s no doubt at all that it’s wrong. Other than that, as you may or may not have guessed, I don’t aim to form some sort of conclusion from this; I’d like to express my condolences to Amanda’s parents, and I hope she rests in peace. “No one deserves to be bullied. No one earns it; no one asks for it, it isn’t a rite of passage. Bullying has to stop.” I completely agree.
By Ijeoma Okoye