Wes and I were talking about a series of jokes he’d read on Reddit, making fun of the actress Sarah Jessica Parker by claiming she looks like a horse. I giggled for a second but then I stopped, ashamed.
It felt wrong to laugh at the jokes, even though I’ve never met SJP and I’m sure I never will. There’s just something about laughing at a cruel joke that seems wrong to me.
I don’t know about you, but I got bullied a lot when I was growing up. Extremely tall for my age, overweight, with unfortunate glasses and a propensity for using words most kids my age didn’t understand, I was an easy target. And oh, how it hurt! Sticks and stones and all that, but other kids are so frigging MEAN and it sucks SO HARD to be on the receiving end of it.
Now, with sites like Reddit and 4Chan thriving with millions of members, it’s like bullying has become a free-for-all. Anonymity and the desire to receive attention have given some people license to abandon the decency that prevents most people from actively trying to hurt other people’s feelings, and up-votes and assumed guffaws validate it.
And it’s not just directed toward celebrities, either. There’s an entire set of memes that makes fun of random pictures of strangers, and yes, some of them are funny, but why does no one consider how the people in the those pictures feel? I would be so embarrassed if a picture of me was circulated with gleefully scathing captions, and I have to imagine the people in those photos are no different.
It just scares me that bullying has become so acceptable. I doubt many of the people perpetuating it online wouldn’t even consider it bullying at first.
I think of this world my kids are growing up in, a world where mean kids from school can hijack pictures of them off the Internet and then spread them around with unkind captions, and I shudder. Because bullying sucked when it was face to face, but there are just so many more ways to get hurt now.
I guess the only thing we can do is teach Aidan and Little Girl as much decency and compassion as we can and hope their school years are kind. If not, we’ll do our best to pray for the people who hurt them and encourage our kids to do the same.
Still, it’s scary. Then again, when hasn’t raising children been scary?