Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bullying matters

Freedom of expression is being strangulated slowly and almost painlessly in the USA.

In Brazil, where people loooove to copy everything from the US, it's not being much different. At least, that's what I have noticed, being half American, half Brazilian.

One can be sued for expressing his true thoughts, opinions and tastes. Your kid can be called a bully if he calls another kid Four-Eyes, or Fat, or Walking Stick.

Maybe I shouldn't lose my time writing about such provocative topic: bullying. But I will, because I, too, have the right to express myself.

 According to Merriam-Webster:

When I was a kid I also experienced someone provoking and threatening me. It was either because I was "four-eyes" until I was fifteen (no, not fifteen eyes; years old); or because of my Italian nose, which yielded me funny nicknames like Toucan, Pinocchio, Big Nose, Air-Thief, etc.

Also, in school I was too smart for the average kid and (gasp) for the average teacher, too. So, by the kids I was called "caxias" or "CDF" - I don't know what they call nowadays, but  they are equivalent to "teacher's pet", only more disdainful. By one teacher I was meanly  called "Dazzled Doll", and she used to threaten me. Well, I guess I was a threat to her, wasn't I? And I was only 9 years old!

In my early twenties I was teaching English and I had a few students - grown-up boys - at the back of the classroom who have been held back for years. They hated English and they liked to threaten me. One day they waited for me outside the school and when I left the building they frightened the heck out of me, yelling and threatening to "catch me".

Did I suffer awfully because of all that bullying? Did I make to the news? Was there a fundraising campaign to protest against the harassment? Did the bullying interfere in my upbringing, my personal, moral, and behavioral developments?  No, of course not!

To be provoked by peers, classmates, neighbors, even cousins, best friends and the whole society used to be normal until a few years ago.

In the country where I was born and grew up it is (or was?) completely normal to friendly call a black man Nigger! It was also okay to refer to someone as "fat", if she was fat. After all, it's just a characteristic like being blonde.

In America, once upon a time, it was more than appropriate to say that a woman who is a steward is a stewardess, or a woman who waits tables at restaurants, is a waitress. Now, we have to use lots of euphemisms, or we will be considered rude.

Where does all this bullshit come from? (Oh, pardon my language! Did I offend you?) Now, we have flight attendants on the airplane, and servers at the restaurant. It's like they all have the same sex now. No, gender is a better word. Or no gender. So dull and boring it is now! (Hard to identify the parts, too!)

All against sexism - is that so?  Which is real sexism? Using the original and clear words for what we mean, specifying which gender we are talking about;  or generalizing genders (because of an agenda, of course), making that all be the same, just to protest in favor of feminism? The latter sounds way more sexist to me!

Did I say feminism? Oh, never mind!  I'm behind the times, aren't I? That's not fashionable anymore. Transgender is all the rage now. And don't you dare express your real feelings about that concept - you might get in trouble for that!

But, I digress! Let's get back to the bullying matters, which are made worse by the society, by the media, by the narrow-minded people who are always trying to blame someone for their weaknesses.

The bullying referred by the media (and don't forget the cyberbullying) is essentially made of verbal insults, but they encompass physical aggression, too. Yes, some school kids are pushed around, poked, kicked in the ass and so on... but those, to me, are normal things among kids - except if it is beyond proportions, which could be classified as physical violence and not simply bully.

It seems to me that people are mixing meanings, adding different connotation to old terms, over reacting, and especially over-rating the word "bully" (among others, of course).

In Brazil, "bullying" (yes, in English, even! No translation! And most Brazilians can't even pronounce the word correctly!)  is a new way to express that someone who is apparently weak is being insulted. Well, people have always being insulted, in one way or another, and never needed an international word or craze to fight it. What's the big deal now?

If parents cannot teach their kids how to manage insults in life; and if kids have to be constantly protected from bullying, they will certainly grow up believing they are weak and the world is out to get them! And they do become weak. And the world does get them! Self-fulfilling prophecy.

When I was (ahem!) "bullied" I did not like it, of course. But I learned early in life to deal with things that I didn't like. No one would come and defend me all the time. And it was not a good idea to attack my opponent, either. I soon realized (also by following my wise parents' advice) that ignoring the opposition was the best thing to do. It was, and still IS! Just LET GO!

So, my point of distress with these trends I see now is: why aren't kids being taught anymore to be smart, self-sufficient, self-confident in a balanced way, and over all unattached from such trends? Why can't kids be taught to ignore the unfavorable, instead of giving too much power and attention to it? 

Simple! Because parents themselves cannot do that either. Do you see how much attention goes to unfavorable things?

The bullying matters are going too far and it's becoming more than ridiculous! More even in Brazil, where people just copy concepts, words, and trends without thinking of what they mean and what's the repercussion in the society.

Not so long ago I saw a post on Facebook; it's a video talking about a fat guy - yes, a fat guy (let's call him Sean), dancing with a fat woman.  According to the news, some unscrupulous person videotaped the man dancing and shared on social media, mocking him because he was fat. It turns out that Sean became an "overnight sensation" because of such mocking video. "Anti-bully activists immediately reached out", they say. And even donations (can you dig it? DONATIONS!) were made to bring the fat man from UK to LA, for a dance party they had promoted for the cause. The captions on the news video say: 'Support goes viral after man "Body-Shamed" '.

Such shame for being bullied for his fat (or his dance, or both) certainly became even more spread out after all that fuss about being bullied. Do you see how those reactions against bullying just make it worse and let people even more exposed? Don't you think that a big, fat, mature man could survive the fact that some idiot filmed him dancing and laughed at him?

First, the bully who laughed at the fat guy was just expressing himself. He has the right to do so. Second, Sean didn't have to pay attention to this fact - why should he care if someone filmed him dancing and laughed because he is fat?

When people pay attention to things like that, and get shocked by them they give more power to them. That's exactly what was intended by the bully: being noticed; going viral; being talked about; shock a few people. He won!

I guess publicizing the video without permission is another issue. But I still wouldn't call that bullying.

Do I care about all this?  Nope! Do I believe or get affected by all this?  Nope, nope! So why am I sharing this with you?

Because of the concept behind of it all. Because of the "monkey-see-monkey-do"  behavior that is affecting deeply the American society (they see on the news, they believe, they spread, they act upon it); and the Brazilian society, too (they see in the international news, it's cool, let's do the same!).

What I see now is that the attention to bullying has become a ridiculous fad, and may not be for a short time because people are buying it.  I have seen people attending to Zumba events, called anti-bully fundraising Zumba - for $20 "donation" for the "cause". Which cause?  Who's is receiving that money? And what for?

The word bully was first used in 1609, according to MW. But, it was never used with tremendous concern or so forced into people's mind as it has been for the last decade or so.

Now, people just repeat what they hear in the news and think they are all victims. They are all weak, needing protection from some source.

That's also what our leaders want the nation to believe. Everybody frightened, defenseless, waiting for protection and care from those who set the rules. So they can perpetually set the rules.

Got it?


No comments:

Post a Comment