Bullying is a negative phenomenon that has always plagued mankind, ever evolving through the times. Today, mean tweets and Facebook posts serve to replace shoulder tackles and name calling from the days of yore. Unfortunately it does not end with school; it can remain a specter in our lives for long after, a pungent after taste remaining in our psyche of a time long gone, which sometimes feels like it only occurred yesterday.
At one point in time, you or someone you know were subjected to/participated in bullying. It could have been yesterday, last month, last year, or over a decade ago. The feeling of helplessness remains a constant for all that experienced bullying.
Over a decade and a half ago I was bullied in high school. The thoughts, feelings and memories remain as strong as though they were yesterday. No one knew about it (except the people witnessing it day in and day out for a period of 2 or 3 years and laughing it up), I never spoke out loud of it and I emerged on the other side, pretty much whole but slightly mentally wincing when coming across any reminder from that fateful mistake in 1998. I can look back at it now and laugh, knowing the extent that some people will go to in order to mock and ridicule others. It may be hilarious now, but back then it was no laughing matter.
Some refer to it as growing pains, others call it toughening up. The most common response to such predicaments are the age old and time tried phrases of “they will get what they deserve”, “they are just acting out”, “ignore them and maybe they will go away”. However, it does not go away, at least not entirely. We have Facebook to thank for that, as both the culprit and the solace.
Facebook, the historic whitewash that amends our past and puts us in contact with people we never intended to remain in contact with, for a variety of reasons. On this magical platform, where a few years down the line you are most likely to run into your high school bully, the transgressions of the past are erased in a flurry of internet meme’s, ludicrous videos and hungry cats. In this utopian wonderland, everyone is equal, everyone is a ‘friend’, your high school bully from a lifetime ago, and the co-worker you just met at lunch 10 minutes ago.
It does not do the mind, heart and body well to continuously dwell on the pains of the past. However, more often than not it is a subconscious request for closure that manifests itself in the form of sporadic dreams and deep thoughts. How can closure be obtained? By simply checking our old friend Facebook once more, and articulating your thoughts and feelings into a well written letter.
I was able to connect with my bully through a post a classmate made. The response I received, as they were gracious enough to respond, was not what I had anticipated. Initially, they had no recollection of me as a person nor of what they had done as an action.
And herein lies the most important lesson you will learn; the past plays out differently for different people. In the 1600s, in what is now known as Peru, there were two sets of history books, ones written by the descendants of Francisco Pizarro that explain how they became richer by 24 tons of gold and silver (the largest ransom in history), whilst the books written by Atahuallpa’s descendants speak of the decimation and extinction of the Incas (history, read it).
Upon digging deeper into our past, the cobwebs were cleared to an extent to explain who I was, despite being fuzzy on the details of what they had done, they were extremely apologetic and regretted the decisions they had made 17 years ago.
In spite of not letting it go (to an extent), bullying does not stop you from achieving success in your life. You will come to the conclusion that the series of incidents that took place X years ago, that you carry with you wherever you go in the recesses of your brain, were trivial, nay, inconsequential to the other party. However, you will have gained your closure. And to some extent it does play a great role in the grander scheme of things, to have the knowledge that what had transpired in the past can be chalked down to adolescent imbecilely.