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Friday, August 26, 2011

Enough Already

We have become a society of bullies.

The magazines, the television shows, the twitter, the youtube - so much of it is about making fun of somebody else. Most of the time, it's celebrities, and we all seem to think that's okay because celebrities aren't people. If you're famous, it's automatically assumed that you're made out of the same material as Barbie, so no matter what is said about you, it can't hurt.

I am so sick of making people famous just so we can hate them. This whole thing with the Jersey Shore and the Kardishians. People never say anything nice about them, bitch about them being famous, and then keep watching the shows to keep them famous. It's like we've been addicted to looking down on people.

(Side note: I do watch the Jersey Shore. But I watch it because I like Jenni, Snooki, Pauly, and Vinny. I think they seem like nice people, and Pauly is really funny).

Making fun of people has become a part of our culture, and I'm not expecting to change that. But I am sincerely asking that everybody stop with the kids - and I mean all kids, from Justin Bieber to Rebecca Black.

I just this really inspired post by Jensen Karp, who is a generally very funny person which is what made this piece so moving. I urge you all to check it out: Why My Daughter Will Never Have a Webcam: The Jessi Slaughter Story. (You should also follow him on the Twitter, because he really is hilarious).

But this is something that's been on my mind for awhile. I actually wasn't familiar with the whole Jessi Slaughter debacle until I read that post by Jensen, but I'm getting so sick of the way people talk about kids.

Take Rebecca Black. She's thirteen years old. I want you to remember your thirteen-year-old self and how most of you would be thrilled to have a recording contract and also probably not be world weary enough to realize how terrible the song was that you were recording. You didn't write it or produce it, and you don't know enough about the music industry or even music in general to know that this wasn't going to make you the next Miley Cyrus.

She was vilified in a way that is totally inappropriate and completely unjustifiable. She is a kid who dreamed of being a singer and sang a crappy song. She did not kill a million Jews. She is not responsible for the recession. She didn't step on a puppy. She sang a song.

I haven't gotten 1/1000th of hate mail she's gotten, and I'm an adult, and I find it rough sometimes. I cannot imagine what that must be like for a child.

Really, honestly, Jensen said everything better than I did. So read his article.

But I beg of you, when it comes to kids, enough already. I don't care if they're in the public eye or not - most of them don't even realize what that means. They're just kids doing stupid stuff. And nobody deserves to be ridiculed, humiliated, and judged like that just for being an awkward adolescent. 

68 comments:

  1. http://www.christinetyler.net/2011/07/rejection-and-failure-why-rebecca-black.html

    I wrote this a couple weeks ago. Thought you might like it.

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  2. Bravo! I agree that society needs to back off the children. I mean, it's one thing to think ill of someone behind their back, but to actually spew such vitriol at them publicly is a disgrace.

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  3. You're so right, Amanda. I'm also tired of people being jealous/envious of other people's successes and reveling in taking potshots and being nasty for the sake of it. It doesn't hurt to be supportive/encouraging of people's successes/dreams -- or even just their attempts at their dreams! At least Rebecca TRIED and made an attempt -- unlike most people who tore her down, the majority of whom were so busy being armchair critics and not doing much of anything of note in their own lives. So much easier to sit around and cut other people down than to take a chance or work own your own dreams, right? I don't think you get to be a critic of any kind unless you're actively doing something yourself and you have instructive/constructive/informative criticism to offer!

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  4. Just one more reason I love you. Totally agree. It's sad the things "adults" say to and/or do. And we wonder where our children get it. I love you work! No hate mail from me... to ANYONE. :)

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  5. I love this, Amanda. You wrote a lot of things I've felt. When I see the casual cruelty out there, the way people talk about women and girls in particular, I feel beaten up and bruised. Watching from the sidelines is painful enough; I cannot imagine what it feels like to be that targeted.

    I think what particularly gets me is really beautiful women being picked apart for 5 extra pounds or the slightest flaw. I can't imagine that young girls can put that message in perspective and understand that people on the internet have impossibly high standards -- because they can.

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  6. Why do people have so much hate in their hearts? It just makes me sad. It isn't our place to judge each other, but how many times a day do we judge without even taking note of it?

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  7. This was a really good post. I wish people would act more kind also. I really started noticing just how mean spirited people are after I had my daughter. My daughter is 3 and has been diagnosed with a learning disability. It is amazing how many people I have seen watching us and giving us dirty looks because of something a 3 year old says or does.

    When we were in the mall about 3 months ago there was a woman with a small child younger than my daughter, and when my daughter seen the little girl she got excited and went over to see the little girl. The mother looked at my daughter like she was some kind of scum and grabbed her child and walked away from us like we had the plague. I wish people would be more accepting of others and realize that their differences are part of what makes other people so beautiful and interesting.

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  8. Amen! You wrote a perfect post of everything I've felt lately. Thank you for getting it out. People should stop and notice what's going on around them. Things seem to become more shallow and full of hatred every day.

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  9. I couldn't agree more! We don't need to tear others down in order to feel better about ourselves.

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  10. The price of the all access worldwide web is crap like this. It's always been this way, the hazing and shaming of people, especially those with the most recognizable faces because they're bigger targets than the kid down the block or that weird woman at the PTA. Doesn't make it right and it doubtless will not change. Thank you for pointing it out.

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  11. If people just treated everyone the way they wanted to be treated then you wouldn't have these issues. It's so hard to raise children right and there is no instructions. I really think that everyone should take a human growth and development course before they decide to have kids. You don't realize that it is the most important job that you will ever have. They do what you do. If you teach them hate then that's what you get. I try to teach my child that you never know what goes on in another persons home so there might be extenuating circumstances at play. I also think that people watch to much tv turn it off and read a book. I do and I have no idea who most of those people are. I have a hard enough life, don't need more drama.

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  12. You're right Amanda. I grew up with parents that said "If you don't have anything nice to say.. keep your mouth shut". It's not like that today.. and the net has a lot to do with it. How easy it is to sit behind a computer screen and judge someone you don't know at all. When it comes to the reality shows/families.. you have a choice, watch or don't watch. I don't care for those kind of shows.. but I don't hate on them. And you know what I thought of when I saw that Rebecca Black video? I thought well, she's not far off from the rest of the pop singers in the world. She has potential. True?

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  13. Thank you, Amanda. I hope that poor Rebecca Black is doing well. It does seem as if an awful lot of people are gleefully cruel nowadays.

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  14. I completely agree. It's always amazed me how people have the audacity to say such mean things about other people. The morals that some people have never fails to surprise me. Whatever happen to common decency and treating others as you would like to be treated. No wonder our children have such a low self esteem these days.

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  15. I agree, but I also think we need to extend this thought to all people. I think so much of the meanness has to do with the anonymity of the internet- people feel free to say anything without consequences, and this has created almost an alternate universe where people have no conscience- if people had to list their actual names with their comments, this wouldn't happen so much.
    We need to be kinder to each other in general.

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  16. I think if I had this technology when I was a child, I'd have some pretty stupid things posted to the net too. Like you said, they're being children. There is so much to learn and experience. People need to give them space to learn, because hate mail, as an adult stings, and I can't picture what that would do to someone still building their lives and learning about the world.

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  17. I don't understand the hatefulness. If I don't enjoy someone's work, I don't consume it. I don't trash them. At the very least, it would be a terrible reflection on me as a person. As for Rebecca Black, I can't imagine why folks would be so awful to her about her song. It didn't seem that bad to me. It was just a song.

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  18. The anonymity and lack of consequences on the internet makes/allows people to do things they wouldn't in person.

    I've long hated sites that "make fun" of other people claiming "it's all for fun." No, it's not funny. It's passive-agressive and mean.

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  19. I haven't heard Rebecca Black (I was going to pull up the "Friday" video once but the net was hiccuping) but I've heard her second song has a little message for the haters. The second-most mature way to deal with it, IMO (#1 being to ignore it completely).

    There's probably no small amount of jealousy going on, as in "I can {sing | play ball | write a better book} than that garbage." Anyone finding themselves saying that should prove it. Let them put themselves out there and take a few shots.

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  20. I have been thinking about this for a long time. Do you know that feeling when you do something really bad and you know you are going to have to face your friends and family (all the crap they are going to give you)? Now imagine that being the world! UGH! It gives me the chills thinking that everyone is going to take it upon themselves to punish you. For that reason alone I try to never judge a celebrity by something they did.

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  21. The problem is most people hate themselves. It's cliche but true. The old "treat others how you want to be treated" doesn't apply anymore, because people feel like crap and treat themselves in that manner, with drug abusive, self-loathing, consumerist impulse spending... anyone who is confident in themselves and their place in life would have no time to rip apart a 13 year old on YouTube. They just wouldn't. They'd be off doing something productive, something that added positive energy to the world. Happy people don't talk shit - shitty people talk shit. And there's just a lot to be angry and down about these days. That's life. That's Resistance. It sucks, but most of humanity can't rise above it. What do we do when we can't reach a pinnacle, or complete a goal, or better our own lot? We pull others down to OUR level so they can be miserable with us. Keep rising above, Amanda.

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  22. This is an excellent and important post. Thank you for writing it.

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  23. It's ridiculous how other "kids" online have nothing better to do than make fun of others; the problem is very much society, not only allowing but often ENCOURAGING this type of behavior, subtly or not.

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  24. Until there are consequences for behaving badly on the internet, it won't stop.

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  25. I almost agree with you, Amanda, but I'm with Susie, above:

    It's no prettier to see a mob go after an adult than after a child. Even when it looks as though someone invited a pile-up on herself through stupidity (I'm thinking of Jacqueline Howett here) no one actually deserves this kind of viciousness. Particularly as what looks at first glance like cluelessness or rudeness might well actually signal a real psychological issue, as with Jessi Slaughter.

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  26. This is really, really great. Thanks for writing this.

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  27. Wouldn't it be fun to be on one of those reality shows, even if I just pass by once in a while?

    How about a reality show for writers? We could throw keyboards at each other.

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  28. I understand what your saying, but these people a lot of the time know what they're getting into.

    The Jersey Shore got made fun of after the first season. Did they have to do more seasons? No. But they did because they wanted to. Same with the Kardishian franchise.

    Justin Beiber and Rebecca Black didn't have to make more songs, either.

    I know we shouldn't be making fun of people, but when they put themselves out there like that, they shouldn't expect to gain respect after looking like an idiot.

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  29. Thank you Amanda for taking the time and writing this. We have become a society of sleepers who have willing fallen into a trap of feeling it’s okay to say things and do things to other people never thinking about the consequences of our actions. Kudos to you!

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  30. Hi there,

    Just look at the number of blogs that are just plain bullying and generally mean without other purpose than being mean...

    There was a question on the radio last night while I was driving home: "A new planet has been found, it is made of diamond. What would you like to find a planet made of?"
    Or something along those lines...

    I was thinking that I would love to find a planet made of love.
    And no I am not an old hippy...
    ;-)

    Have a good day.

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  31. I think you've accurately described America in three words "A Nation of Bullies".... wow... nailed it. No wonder the rest of the world, can only see us as the 'better enemy' to befriend.

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  32. Couldn't agree more. I don't know that our society today is necessarily more bully-happy than it used to be, but bullies certainly have a bigger megaphone than they used to. Plus, on the interwebs, they also have the advantage of anonymity. The only way to change it is for each individual who doesn't like the behavior to 1.) abstain in the face of peer pressure, and 2.) call it out for what it is. We all need to be more vigilant about it.

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  33. I wish we could go back to the more "civilized" time when I grew up. I was born in 1940 (don't remember anything about WW II, though). I didn't even have a TV until I was 12! I recently unplugged it. Now my disabled daughter and I just watch movies through Netflix, and get what news we need through a news channel there and on the Internet. I search for the upbeat stories. There ARE some out there, if you want to find them, just as there are great posts like this one, and wonderful people who comment.

    I applaud you, Amanda, for speaking out on this subject. I have an eleven year old grandson who is mildly autistic, more in the asperger area. Fortunately, he has not been bullied the way some children have who are "different." That says something about the small Virginia town where he lives.

    Sometimes I can't stand to hear all the bad stories "out there." Some days I don't even check the news on the Internet. Some days when I do I feel like crying.

    I'm happy to meet all the kind people here who have commented; all the kind people "out there" in the real world. As Helen Keller said (paraphrased): I am only one person and can't do everything, but I CAN do something.

    We're all "doing it" when we're outraged at the horrible things some people do to others. When we're determined to do what WE can to make the world a happier place.
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

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  34. Enjoyed your post Amanda. If I may confess, this week I saw a picture of the band Hanson now that they're growed-ups. My first thought was something dismissive--the mental equivalent of Nelson Muntz's "ha-ha." And then I thought, why? Because they were successful once? Why would I mock that? And then I read everything you wrote...so, we were on the same wave length this week (except for the part where I mocked Hanson and you didn't).

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  35. Thank you! Well put!

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  36. Thank you for speaking out since you have huge credibility. It is the anonymity of the web that enables it and it spreads like wildfire into real life. My family is HUGE on teasing and sarcasm and I was always teased about having "hurt feelings". I can be mean as a tick, but, strangely, try not to hurt anyone's feelings. Your blog was a good thing today.

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  37. You are a very nice person. That's particularly wonderful to see in someone who has had enough success to lord it over others if she wanted to.

    Glad you don't.

    Good luck with that writing thing.

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  38. i linked this to my facebook page. As a teacher I see the first hand damage bullying can do...via words in person, text or online...it truly is hurtful and awful. Thanks for the blog=)

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  39. I hate to say it, but while yes, technology, reality shows, youtube, etc. has contributed to the growing problem on bullying, it really boils down to parenting. I see so many cases like this in my full-time job. When I go to court, I have a chance to observe the parent's and I'm amazed just how petty and vile some parents can be. Kids learn it from home.

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  40. Popped over from Nathan Bransford's blog, and am glad I did! This is a great reminder to be less venomous in general. Never hurts to be nice to people; the world would be less sucky if we all tried to put our selves into others' shoes and were less bitchy. Thank you for this post!

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  41. I was reading Jensen's story, and thought it sounded familiar, and then it came to me: Kiki Kannibal. Someone else posted the similarities too, yet Kiki's case was even more extreme, and seemingly condoned by the parents. (Rolling Stone ran a great article on her).

    I believe the media has much to blame for their situation, too. Why else would a sextape couple be on reality tv, if their 'lives' weren't going to sell commercial time--along with some successful marketing. There is nothing good on television anyway, most of the time, which herds people toward the well-funded show most of the time.

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  42. If the Jersey Shores people and the Kardasians are now being used a template for standards of living...God help us

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  43. there's a difference between voicing your opinion and insulting someone. however, there's also a difference between someone who's trying to be artistic and failing (rebecca black) and someone who is infamous for no reason (jersey shore). ultimately, (my opinion only) it comes to light that a certain percentage of the population, however underdeveloped as it may be, are tired of the media-fueled sensationalism. the concept of things being popular or "good" because someone told us so. my favorite of these examples is Catherine Heigl. Cathy doesn't exhibit anything in her work that stands out from other up and coming actresses. but somehow she keeps appearing on magazine covers more than other women who have landed larger roles. how did this happen? but i digress, i think the bullying comes from media being too pushy in trying to tell us what is hot. i KNOW people who are drunk sluts, so i don't need to know why snooki is. i KNOW people who want to be musicians but fail miserably, so i don't need to know rebecca black. there's nothing new under the sun. thats not being pessimistic. the same social circles keep spinning and interacting, only with the invention of the internet, those circles are far more visable.

    and that's all i have to say about that.

    oh, read Flight of the Lazarus. now available on kindle. its the new Harry Potter

    andrew j cole

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  44. This is a great post. People's capacity for viciousness spikes whenever they or their victims are wearing masks, and the internet hands over an easy, free supply.

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  45. Hi Amanda...Thanks for writing this post. I agree that something should be done about the bullying. I admit that I love the Jersey Shore (Snooki is my girl!) and do I dare say...I watch the Kardishians. I often get criticized by friends for watching both shows.

    Also, to Rambling Expat, a planet made of love sounds good to me and no, I am not a hippie either. ;)

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  46. I going into eighth grade and you dont know how much bullyings is really going on until you see it right next to your locker. I am sometimes ashamed of my school because of the bullys. Since i love reading i have been called nerd geek and so on, but i really dont care. Nerds will get some where in life while the bullys will always be in a bar stuck somewhere thinking about there glory days in junior and senior high. I will be out there still living my glory days
    - Savannah

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  47. Amanda it is sad when people use the anonymity of the internet to stalk and harrass people. I've been a victim of it, simply because I reviewed a book and it wasn't favorable. I didn't attack the author, I simply pointed out the flaws as I saw them, and expressed what I didn't like about the story. You'd think I killed somebody! Soon after I started to receive hateful emails making false allegations about me sleeping with a certain publisher in the small press in order to get my book published, as well as a fake Twitter account was created to mock me, posting innuendo about me taking drugs, being mentally unstable, and making fun of my personal appearance, including but not limited to making comments about me needing to wear hats. (I had cancer at the time!)

    It was instigated by the author to her fans when she made a post in her blog, insinuating that I was jealous of her, and then she attributed other negative reviews on amazon to me, which was NOT TRUE! I had never posted a review of her work on amazon. She didn't mention me by name in her blog, however I knew she was referring to me because in one of the comments a person mentioned my online "handle", and she confirmed it. (Since then the comments have been removed.) I do have a screencap of it though. She continues to make false allegations against me to this day. I think it shows her level of self esteem, and her need to play victim in order to see just how much her fans adore her. It feeds her ego.

    My point in telling this story is to show that this stuff happens more often than not, and you'd be surprised by what supposed "reputable" people will do to undermine others, especially in the writing community. As if it is a damn competition! It really isn't.

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  48. BTW, this particular author set the wheels in motion while she was still self published. She has since gone on to get picked up by a well known publisher. It has been posited by myself and a few others who are aware of the situation, that perhaps this was a deliberate ploy to garner attention and sympathy in order to boost sales of her books. (Using gossip and fan loyalty as a promotional tool.) If this was the case, it's pretty sad.

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  49. Oh, and just in case I'd like to make it clear that I am NOT pointing a finger at Amanda! I really hope that nobody came to that conclusion. I only realized that others might take my posts the wrong way after rereading them! I LOVE Amanda, and wish everyone else who is on this same journey much success!

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  50. I couldn't agree more, but no one at any age should be bullied.
    I also watch Jersey Shore for the same people, Pauly is hilarious, and we rewind it all the time just to catch little stuff he says. Who cares if they are famous for being famous? Haters be jelly!!

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  51. Problem is, you're preaching to the choir, darlin'. Too bad the ones who really need to hear this, won't.

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  52. I completely agree. I think about my 2 kids growing up all the time and am scared to death that they'll get picked on or zoned in on by the other kids and ridiculed because people/kids can be so cruel. So much has changed in tofday's society than sixty years ago, but you didn't see the kind of blatant, cruel kind of bullying that you see now-a-days. What's scary too though, as you touched on, is that there are so many adults that do the same thing, that are so mean without reason. I read something a couple months ago that almost led to a very similair post on my blog. It was a picture of Kristen Stewart from the MTV movie awards and everyone commenting was ruthless and so mean without justification. It's one thing to say you thought someone's dress was ugly but people were tearing her apart limb from limb saying how ugly they thought she was. I found it appauling that they felt they could insult her like that just because she's a celebrity. Frankly, to others like me reading the thread, it made them look really bad (although I'm sure they didn't care).

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  53. your post made me think a lot, it doesn’t matter who you are, you deserve respect. Thanks

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  54. I agree, Amanda. Jealousy is at the root of a lot of the hurtful things people say and do. The old Eagles song, "Dirty Laundry," sums it up pretty well, I think.

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  55. I recently noticed some bullying against a 13 year old girl who had commented on a book review I wrote, and it seriously made me sick to my stomach. The adults can throw mud at each other all they want, but I put my foot down when they started threatening a little girl. I might link the review back to your post, if that's alright.

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  56. i PROMISE you- everyone who talks trash about all those people... do it because they don't KNOW them, they never think they'll KNOW them and they never have to OWN UP TO THEIR WORDS OF HATE! being from LA, working in the entertainment industry- i have a lot of friends that people like perez hilton and so forth talk a lot of smack about.. spread lies.. say mean, cruel things. because it's easy to be mean and awful when these people we talk about are simply "celebrities".. and not our "friends." you know? i've done it- i've talked badly about a celebrity, only to meet them at a later point and time and feel like an asshole because now i actualyl LIKED the person- and here i was, making fun of their gigantic forehead or something, as if i'm some perfect work of art (as if!!!)...

    anyway- it would be better if we gave those kinds of people (the exact OPPOSITE OF PEREZ HILTON) attention and made POSITIVE messages, and nice things said about celebrities just as popular as we do the mean, awful, negative, bashing and tearing down things....

    one post at a time i guess?

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  57. I'd been thinking quite a bit about this topic, Amanda. Yours was the springboard for my current FB Note. I agree with you, and appreciate this post.

    Agy Wilson
    www.Yellapalooza.com

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  58. I totally agree.

    I think we have brought up a society that needs to put others down so that they can hide their own flaws and faults.

    It's sad really!!!

    Great Post!!

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  59. Great entry. I've ranted and blogged about the same, the way American society and media (which gets its roadmap from what we, the public, have shown that we will watch, read, blog and talk about) create and then destroy adolescents (Britney Spears) and those who've become addicts or demented (Lenny Dykstra). I call it bear-baiting, after the wonderful Elizabethan sport of tying bears to a stake, and then unleashing dogs upon them. Sure, the bears fight off all the dogs for awhile, but soon they tire, and then one dog nips and bites it, and then them all...And the people laugh and clap and cheer. High school hallway fights are much in the same vein.

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