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In an Artificial World, What Do You Expect?

Written by Katrina Moncure Jan 28, 2006

I caught a rerun of a network drama show the other night. To prevent spoiling anything, I won’t say which show or give too many details about it, but basically there was a bully at a high school who was shot and killed. It was thought a couple of his most common, most mistreated victims were responsible, but it turned out the guidance counselor did it. Why? Because she wanted to prevent another Columbine, deciding best to just kill the bully rather than have one of his victims snap and shoot up the whole school. She said the bullied students were helpless and had pretty much no one to turn to, that they were being badly abused and no one was doing a thing about it.

Now, getting to my point, all this led me to a lot of youth rights pondering. While I know the “roles” people play in high school are depicted very poorly on TV and other media, there’s some of this I recall from my own middle school and high school days. Bullying and cruelty and such does occur to some degree. So I, like many others, ask myself “Why?”

It’s about right then, the “youth rights side” of my brain gets militant. Why am I asking why? Plenty of adults are bullies as well. You just don’t hear about it as much, that side of my brain says. At the same time, “you don’t hear about it as much”, while often a good point, isn’t a very good leg to stand on. I sure as hell would never say “because teenagers are inherently violent and stupid” like a lot of folks unthinkingly say directly or indirectly. And I don’t think for a second age is a factor in the behaviors themselves. But let’s say just for the sake of argument that this show and others that say similar stuff are about accurate in their portrayal of this stereotypical bullying predator and his/her battered and increasingly insane victims.

So I’ll tell you why there are bullies. There are bullies for the same reasons there are all these other “roles” high school students play. I call them roles because they are just that: parts you play that have no bearing on anything outside of the specific environment they are in. High school is a totally fabricated life in and of itself. There are infallible, authority figures: teachers, coaches, staff, principals, and others. They are to be obeyed no matter what. They are not equal to you, the student. They are a totally different divine race of their own. Then there’s the promise of a good place to be when it is all over. College. The students have never been in this place and don’t know for sure what it is like, but they are told it is good and if they do what they are told and do it right, they will go there. Furthermore, they are told that they would be losers if they chose not to go to this wonderful place after school. They are really considered losers if they quit this “life” early. Health deteriorating stress is ignored, for the “it will all be over someday” philosophy is repeated. When all is said and done, there is this miniature culture formed. Ninth graders are on the bottom, lowly, and ignorant. The twelfth graders are superior, promising, strong, privileged, wise, and are on top of the heap. They are made to believe constantly that this is all that is real and this is the most important time of their lives and what happens now will last with them forever, that just about anything could be a land mine ready to blow up them up and make them failures.

So from this we get bullies, geeks, cliques, and any other high school stereotype you can name. The population of said high school contains, in a way, the only people in the “world”, so these “societies” spring forth. Why do bullies prey on others? Because they assert their superiority that way. They make their victims miserable and probably suicidal. Hell, they don’t care. It’s fun. It gives them sadistic pleasure. But then the question is: Where are the bullies in the adult world? What happens to high school bullies once high school is over? Aside from the “They become police officers” idea, could be they come out and find the world is much bigger than anyone let them realize. Bigger people. Stonger people. Or they just get swamped with “adult” responsibilities and don’t have time. Who knows? Either way, the bully persona often fades out when you become part of the real world.

I could be totally wrong on a lot of these counts but, either way, you want to stop bullying? Stop trapping people into this fake little life! Hasn’t anyone figured out by now that forcefully sealing these people into this artificial biome called high school does very little to no good for anyone? Why is society trying to screw up adolescents yet blame them for being screwed up? That’s just plain stupid.

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