Bullying happens at college, and for some reason it seems worse than when it happened in high school. I spent the majority of my high school career relatively unscathed by bullying, experiencing a few incidents that, while terrible, were easily managed with the presence of my family and three close friends I knew had my back through it all.
College is different. I’m not from Massachusetts, which means that although my family is a phone call away, I have to hope they’ll pick up. My core three friends from back home are busy figuring out college themselves with a plethora of new people they need to devote their time to. These people may have heard about me, but we have yet to meet. My friends on campus have my back, but they also fraternize with some of the people who made my transition to college more than difficult.
This has resulted in numerous lonely weekends, weeknight dinners by myself in a corner or in my room, and instances during which I questioned why I continue to plow my way through school. In short, bullying in college can be much worse than in high school for numerous reasons, and we all need to take a second to consider how our actions affect others.
For example, look at the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. Everyone’s currently obsessed with it because of the mystery surrounding Hannah Baker and her suicide. Everyone’s praising the show’s accurate portrayal of suicide’s effect on a community. We really should be focusing on how the little things we do can profoundly impact someone’s life without our knowledge.
This is incredibly important in college. Too many people claim that they were under the influence as an excuse for why they made distasteful comments or did distasteful actions. Unfortunately, in the eyes of the victim this usually doesn’t fix anything. Blaming poor decisions on an external factor is not apologizing to those bullied and it certainly doesn’t teach anyone to own up to their shortcomings. Instead, we become part of a society that’s constantly blaming anything and everything to avoid taking responsibility and fixing actual problems.
To the boy that thought it was okay to go around a party ranking girls, calling my friends and I fours to our faces: you might have texted me in the morning to apologize for drinking too much, blaming the alcohol for hurting my friend’s and my feelings. To my friend who called me unlovable as I held your hair vomiting: you said sorry about the vomit and for drinking too much, but never took the time to acknowledge that you’d said something cruel. I’m pretty sure alcohol is an inanimate object that can’t actually insult others, so we all need to take the time to own up to whatever happens when we’re under the influence.
Social media and the ability to text just about anyone has done great things for society. However, with this power comes great responsibility. Word travels around, and screenshots are taken. Nothing stays private forever, especially on our mobile devices. Verbal gossip can be denied, but when it comes to gossip over social media,. it’s hard to say you never did something when there’s hard evidence.
I guess the point of this is that we need to pay attention to the consequences of our actions. Something that seems insignificant to us may mean a whole lot more to the person it’s said to. Kindness is not like respect. It does not need to be earned. We need to begin to own up to all we do and say and show kindness to everyone because it’s our responsibility to do so.