To the Kids Who Never Quite Fit In
Empathy is your antidote.
I write this post now as a 21 year old young woman trying to still process the trauma of childhood bullying.
As a young kid, I quickly learned from my classmates that something was ‘wrong’ with me. My hair just too frizzy and messy, my clothes weren’t quite cute enough, my voice was just too shrill and too loud. I faced the pain of hearing whispers and giggles in class and never feeling like I could quite say or do the right thing. At the time, I was limited to the world of my small city, not knowing if or when I would make real friends. The isolation, exclusion, and humiliation I felt made me believe I was the only person experiencing the pain of bullying.
Upon reading about the BULLY project, I felt a cathartic wave rush down my spine, realizing that there are people worldwide trying to help kids of today from facing the same harms I went through. The goal of their movement is not simply to stop bullies, but to ignite a deeper conversation among educators, parents, and students about why bully culture still exists. Utilizing social media, they seek to build empathy, forgiveness, and understanding among communities- pushing people to stand up for those being bullied and encouraging those same children that they are not alone, that their voice matters.
It is through media that I have hope in emerging generations to have less hatred in their heart and more light in their eyes. Whether through a meme, a hashtag, a direct message or an insta- caption, people around the world now have the ability to share words and images of encouragement to others who may want to give up. The power of this tool in building community, love, and friendship is an exciting promise to people of all ages.
As Jeremy Rifkin explains through his research of the “Empathic Civilization” , empathy is grounded in the understanding and acceptance of human suffering, life, death, and everything else in between. Building an empathic civilization depends upon the ability of individuals to acknowledge the fragility and imperfect reality of our existence on this planet. Rifkin proposes that our global society’access to new technologies may allow for a new shift in global consciousness that can foster the type of empathy that most human beings seek to nourish.
Working with The Global Lives Project this year, I have learned that media can potentially have the power of addressing bullies worldwide. Through this project, audiences around the world are able to see how people in the Global South live in their day to day lives. This project has the potential of destroying the blind hatred that continues to be generated across this planet. It allows for viewers to step into the lives of those from different cultural, religious, ethnic backgrounds in order to understand that we are all on this journey together.
We are in this together. One post at a time.