Individuals are smart, people are stupid

Naked Security: Cyberbullying is worse than face-to-face bullying, teens say

StopBullying

I’ve talked about this before here and here.  It’s a topic I feel VERY strongly about having been bullied through my entire school career.  My daughter, who will be 9 in December, is most likely going to be bullied at some point in her school career as well.  There are some traits I can see will be topics for other children to point out and make fun of.  Both my wife and I are doing our best to raise her with self confidence and instill in her that she can manufacture her own strength.  That is a lesson in life that neither of us had when we were growing up.  We also didn’t have pervasive 24/7 technology driving our bullies over 20 years ago.

So, before anyone gets offended by the title, here is my explanation.  Individuals in this context are normal, intelligent and sane minded people that act on impulses with morality and knowing right from wrong.  They’re able to see a situation or problem, make judgements on the correct course of action, then act on those decisions.  People in this context are just the opposite of an individual.  People refers to a crowd of individuals that have lost the ability to think on their own, they’re following a slightly smarter individual that is empowered by the “people” behind them.  The thoughts and actions of people are justified if more than one person performs the unintelligent or insane action.  Mob mentality is what its referred to as in the news.

Lets steal some stuff then burn it down!

Lets steal some stuff then burn it down!

Explanation done, this same idea holds true online.  The consequences are much much worse however in that individuals that are targeted often are alone.  They feel alone, they are alone, no one is supporting them.  The article at the top goes into some detail, but I think fails in trying to address the root of the problem by using emojis that evoke compassion.  Really?  WTF is that about?  We are so afraid of offending someone or pissing off someone that we end up not being candid and blunt about the true nature of the problem.  Here is my theory.

  • Parents are partially to blame for not monitoring what their kids are doing online.  Growing up it was easy to keep tabs on a child.  Mom screamed out the door and we came running or we were home when the street lights came on.  Trouble, if caught, would easily be communicated.
  • Schools are partially to blame for not being tougher on the kids who do bully.  The schools are bound by ridiculous rules and policies that turn their discipline from a sword into a spork.  No one benefits from that.
  • Kids are partially to blame in that they’re not getting the right life lessons from people around them.  From age 7 to about 15, children are literally soaking up the world like a shop vac sucking water out of a basement.  What they see, do and hear shapes their decision processes for the rest of their lives.
  • Technology is partially to blame due to its pervasive ability to completely take over someones life.  We have, as a society, come to depend on our technology and are starting to lose the ability to function without it.  How many times have you asked someone for a phone number and heard back “it’s in my phone, which I don’t have right now.”

My wife and I are split on the technology front unfortunately.  I’ve had multiple computers and phones for years now due to my fierce separation of work and personal tech.  Work doesn’t need to know what I do on home time.  I don’t carry a phone on Sunday, not because I’m religious or anything, I just need to disconnect one day per week.  It supports my requirement for solitude.  My wife, mother in law, brother, etc. are all the same in their reaction:  “How can we get a hold of you if there’s an emergency?”  My response is always the same:  “The same way you would get a hold of me 20 years ago, leave a message.”  It’s received with mixed reactions.

I want my daughter to be exposed to technology, but on my terms.  I know there is absolutely horrible content on the Internet and I can’t shield her from all of it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try and watch her activity daily.  My wife gives her the iPod and leaves her alone.  I give her the iPod and want to sit with her and watch what she does.  My wife lets her on the desktop to do math homework and leaves her alone.  I sit with her and watch what she does and helps when needed.  Technology for me is a tool and should be used as such.  You don’t carry around your hammer or wrench 24/7 so why should you carry around your smart phone 24/7?

I’ve digressed unfortunately, such is that of a random mind.  I hope that I’m giving my daughter the sense of safety that she can tell us anything that is bothering her so we can take the most appropriate actions to help her.  I’m aware that our involvement in her life will be more and more unwelcome, but that doesn’t mean that I stop helping her.  It’s just a shift in helping to something indirect rather than direct, such as a meeting with the Principal after hours as I did two weeks ago.  I hope that my daughter never experiences bullying or cyberbullying, but the reality is that she will.

It needs to stop and it starts with awareness and an individual to counter the decision of people.

We all bleed red, so shut up!

I woke this morning to the radio, guess I didn’t push the slider all the way to buzzer.  A radio DJ was talking about the #BlackLivesMatter movement.  He was debating with another DJ how it supports black supremacy in that it incites violence on police officers and others.  The conversation devolved quickly from there and I tuned it out because my opinion on the matter doesn’t quite align with the accepted views.

We all bleed red

I can recall with vivid detail the first time I said the statement “we all bleed red, so shut up.”  I was in high school, primarily white at the time, and my views towards race and violence were naive at best.  There were over 1,200 students in my high school with less than 100 minorities.  My high school was like any other, clicks of people aligned to common interests:  jocks, nerds, cool, not cool, black, etc.  I never subscribed to the juvenile separation as I viewed everyone the same.  Immediate respect until your actions dictated otherwise.  It was a simple rule that holds true now as I round out my first 39 years on the planet.

This particular incident involved my befriending of an African American that shared 4 of 8 classes, all in the afternoon, with me.  Lets call him Joe.  Joe and I literally walked in the same direction, every day, for weeks, until I finally decided to start talking to him.  At first it was awkward, almost like we shouldn’t be talking, but it was more than that.  Even now as I recall, I can’t quite come up with an explanation as to how or why it felt that way.  Regardless, we ended up becoming decent friends.  It was months before I actually ventured up to his click one morning to say good morning.  His reaction towards me was the polar opposite of how we had been for the last several months in the hallways walking to classes.  It caught me off guard.

Being the type of person I am, I persisted and shrugged off the reception.  I asked a question about a class later in the day.  Joe’s friends (I guess) turned to him and asked “You hang out with this dude?”  He didn’t answer right away and I responded “We have four classes together in the afternoon, it’s not hanging out, but we do talk every day.  What’s wrong with that?”  Well, lets say that I got an earful that included several phrases that don’t need to be recorded here.  Joe did nothing to stop the tie raid unfortunately.  I listened to this for a few minutes and just put my hand up once three of them had joined in the conversation.

They all stopped and just looked at me after I put up my hand.  That’s when I said “We all bleed red, so shut up.”  Still, they kept staring at me.  I turned to Joe and said “I thought you were better than this, obviously I was wrong.”  I started to walk away at this point and just said, not directed to anyone, “Don’t worry, I won’t be coming by again or talking to any of you again.”  I didn’t turn around after walking away to see any of the reactions, but the conversation started up as I turned down the hall.

That was the last day I spoke to Joe directly.  It took me a few days to understand what had happened and I became angry.  I couldn’t get past the fact that our skin color defines how we interact with the people around us.  I recently finished watching Falling Skies and there was a profound statement at the end after we had defeated the alien invasion forces.  “We’re not alone anymore.  There isn’t any black, white, yellow or brown anymore.  We’re all human beings living on Earth.”  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  Here was a fictional show, about aliens, that managed to sum up what I believe the majority of people already think.

Our news is filtered

Watching the news is something I don’t do anymore.  I realized a while ago several things that I didn’t like about the news in the United States:

  • It’s filtered
  • Every broadcast ends with a happy/humanitarian piece
  • World news doesn’t include the world majority of the time

News stations know this already of course.  If the story is too radical or heinous, it is never reported on.  War coverage was probably the most ridiculous of all in that what is really happening is no where near what is reported as happening.  I’ve seen documentaries on past wars, unfiltered and raw, that ripped at my gut as I watched.  I *know* current wars are the same, yet no one ever sees that.

The coverage on #BlackLivesMatter is just as ridiculous.  I won’t go into a tie raid about it as that isn’t the point I’m trying to make.  When you see videos urging people into action to cause violence against police under the guise of #BlackLivesMatter, then take action, you in turn are contributing to the problem that created the movement in the first place.  Human beings have an instinct to protect themselves that is race blind.  It’s a flight or fight response that no one has any control over.  Having a weapon in hand that can determine whether you live or die, it’s no surprise that these things are happening.

#HumanLivesMatter

There are some that will say that #BlackLivesMatter is racist.  There are some that will say that #AllLivesMatter is racist.  I call bullshit to both of them.  The true movement here is, and should always be, #HumanLivesMatter.  It doesn’t take a huge effort to treat others with respect and dignity.  I’ll admit that in a society that is pushing 7 billion world wide, there are going to be some truly disturbed individuals.  If society was more willing to truly treat others as you want to be treated, those unsavory individuals would stick out like a rice kernel in a salt shaker.

We all bleed red, so shut up.