When did it become fashionable to be mean? With all the publicity and programs to battle bullying, why do we still celebrate meanness?
There are seemingly hundreds of so-called Reality shows on television that are nothing more than people being mean to each other. Some years back, there was even a movie entitled “Mean Girls.”
Why is this sort of “entertainment” enjoyable to so many people? When did being mean become not just okay, but something to aspire to?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m no advocate of nice. Niceness, as all girls my age were told to aspire to, can be horribly damaging. When being nice is your end-all and be-all, you never learn to hold your ground or stand up for yourself. It’s awful. I’m 60-something-years-old and would still rather have a root canal than confront somebody. I was always one of the nice ones.
And as long as I’m being honest, which I try to be in this venue at least, I have been known to be a tad sarcastic at times. Even snarky. I may even be known for my biting wit and snark. But I’ve rarely been mean.
I honestly don’t know how today’s kids survive. Sadly, some of them don’t. Many kids are bullied to death.
Looking back at my own school days, I shudder. I was bullied. I was always the little fat girl. Plus I was too shy to be funny. I was smart, but again, too shy to use it as a weapon. What I thought was hell then would have been hundreds of times worse in this era of social media.
I cringe at the thought of the time I walked out of the girls’ room with the back of my skirt tucked into my underwear. Two boys snickering was a whole lot better than seeing myself and my cotton-panty-clad-ass on Facebook. Yet, I still can hear the snickers.
And I bullied. In grade school especially, there was always one or two children who had “cooties” and we never let them forget it. Now I’m not talking about lice here. No, these cooties were metaphysical. We children, as a horde, were merciless.
I remember two boys in particular who were singled out to be the brunt of everything awful. One was named Barry and the other, although I can still see his face, I don’t remember his name. They were both socially awkward and sort of funny looking. I was socially awkward and funny looking. If it wasn’t them, it might’ve been me.
I am so very sorry. I’m sorry that I was part of that gang of girls who shrieked “cooties” any time we inadvertently brushed up against you. I’m sorry I didn’t have the wherewithal to say, “Stop! This isn’t right!” even when I knew it wasn’t
I hope you survived and got your revenge by becoming obscenely successful.
Children, as we all know, are nasty little savages, no doubt about it. It is, as the scorpion said to the frog, in our natures. I just hope we all survived, the bullied and the bullies both.
But as adults, we should know better. We should all be self-aware enough to know that some things are just not right. We shouldn’t let the mean girls–and mean boys–still rule us. We should, each of us, be able to say, “Stop! This isn’t right!”
Shoulda, woulda, coulda. That’s all pretty damaging, too. So here’s my thought. Be kind. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself and those snickering boys. Forgive the girl who loudly pointed out in class that you had used lipstick for rouge and forgot to blend it in. Pick up someone else’s litter without cussing (too much). And try not to let the first thing out of your mouth be a snarky comment, no matter how clever it is.
Clever can be cute. It can also be mean. So, let’s not.