Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
Whether he was in on the hoax or not is of absolutely no consequence. He’s just a kid.
And at this point, he’s a kid who has the millions of people laughing at him, questioning his motives, questioning his integrity, and calling him names. There are thousands of comments across the hundreds of stories that have now been posted online. There are thousands of people bashing him across the various forms of social media. There’s even a knew meme with people posing with their imaginary girlfriends.
And it has to stop. He doesn’t deserve this. No one does. It is nothing less than bullying.
Who among us escaped our youth unscathed? Who among us didn’t make a mistake in front of our own peers? Who among us hasn’t had other people laughing at us…with or without reason? I know that I didn’t escape middle or high school unscathed. I know how bad it feels to have people laughing at me and calling me names. It’s terrible.
I thank God that the Internet, and particularly social media, weren’t around in those days. I may have had a few people who tormented me in my youth, but at least it wasn’t plastered all over the Internet for people who didn’t even know me to partake.
And that’s exactly what’s happening right now. There are feelings of outrage and betrayal. And why? How many of those people have ever met this kid? Even if you were somehow emotionally invested in the team or in the game or in the race to the Heisman, what’s it to you? Just because you like a team and route for a player, what makes you feel so entitled to the “truth”? What gives you the right to bash some poor kid that you’ve never even met?
The Internet has made it far too easy for people to be mean to others, and particularly to people they’ve never even met. It’s a gang mentality that has perpetuated the spreading of hate far too wide and far too long. The anonymity of the Internet makes it even easier for the darker qualities in our human race to rise to the surface, and it simply has to stop.
I love social media, and I love the Internet. I love the potential that it holds to bring us closer together. I love the potential that it holds to expose us to people that are different from us and to views that are different than our own. Through this, we can be challenged and grow and learn from each other. But in a time where civility has diminished so much, where love for one other only exists in small pockets across cyberspace, the realization of this potential has been all but lost.
We have the power to change that. We have the power to join our voices together and promote love and caring and to support one another. We have the power to use the Internet and social media to proliferate the Good News, to spread messages of love and hope, and to be a light in each other’s dark moments.
We have to combat bullying in all of its forms. But in order to do that, we can’t stand blithely by while our fellow friends, neighbors, and even people we don’t know are getting dragged through the mud.
So for those of you who agree, share this message. Be a part of the solution. Spread positivity. Speak up for people whose voices are getting drowned out in a sea of hate.
Stand up. Speak out. Show the world that there is another way.