Oh, Jared Leto. Before you scared the shit out of me with your heroin-ravaged arm in Requiem for a Dream, I had a crush on you. I have the complete series of My S0-Called Life on DVD, and I still find it amazing. It’s one of the greatest series ever, and it only lasted one season. It also brings me back almost 20 years…wow. Now I feel old. But seriously, there are days I still wish that I had Angela Chase’s wardrobe, Rayanne Graff’s fearlessness, and Ricky Vasquez’s self-assurance. There are days when I listen to Hootie and the Blowfish and Blue’s Traveler, and have flashbacks to my adolescence of making mix tapes off the radio. I watch Friends, and sometimes I still think it’s 1997 andY2K is just around the corner. But thank goodness for YouTube and Netflix so I can relive my favorite moments from the 90s and STILL have a crush on Jordan Catalano.
Et tu Brute? It’s a made-for-television movie where the acting is actually good and it deals with an all too common topic: cyberbullying. In the 2011 movie produced by ABC Family, Cyberbully takes a look at an ancient problem in a modern forum: backstabbing. Today, being March 15th, is the “ides of march.” Julius Caesar was assassinated by his confidants Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus when he was stabbed in the back (literally.) Coincidentally, the story of Cyberbully also deals with two friends who do their own form of backstabbing online.
When I was in middle school, and even high school, cyberbullying was not as prevalent. It existed, but not to the extreme that it does nowadays. I was even the victim of some not-so-nice comments online in its early days. Sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter weren’t even created yet. I don’t know what I would do if I were a teenager in this day and age. Our society has made it easier to keep in contact people, yes, but also to share too much information and do a massive amount of harm. Bullying has gone beyond the schoolyard of movies like A Christmas Story and replaced bare fists with the stroke of a keyboard. I never get too one-sided in my reviews or arguments and try to play devil’s advocate whenever I can, but bullying, in any form, is not okay. As someone who was bullied growing up, I can relate to the feelings of hopelessness and extreme sadness.
What gets to me most is the fact that situations like these are completely, 100% avoidable. Older generations in our society chock it up to just part of growing up, sometimes citing that “I was picked on as a kid and I turned out fine.” They might even see it as a right of passage. And when I speak of older generations, I am specifically citing things that were said by my grandfather’s generation and he is around 85. Why does this back-stabbing and hatred NEED to exist at all? It doesn’t. I know that people feel the need to bring others down in order to bring themselves up, but bullying is never a solution to one’s self-esteem issues. And what happens to the bullies once they grow up? Do they become our bosses? wives? husbands? Yes.
This current generation of teens need to think twice before posting harmful videos and bullying escapades online, because those videos might come back to stab them in their own backs. It could have an impact on future employment, spouses, and other relationships, even legal consequences. We need to have an open discussion about how we can change all these negative things into something positive and really try to help the next generation of bosses, wives, and husbands to become more respectful, accepting, and kinder human beings. We need to teach them to use the internet for good and not harm. We need to use the internet to get a positive message out there. Cyberbully (2011) is available to stream on Netflix and I think it is a must-watch for anyone with a teenager.
The following clip is from 2011’s Cyberbully and contains an all-to-real account of the dangers of bullying (online and off):