They call it bullying, but it is so much more than that. I’m talking about a current trend of social ostracizing that is at the center of the new film, “Mean Girls.”
We had bullies when I was in school, back in the age of the dinosaurs according to my kids who never wanted to have their school experiences compared with mine, but it was never like it is today. We had the playground bully who pushed kids around until someone pushed back. Then they often abandoned their tactics and became more like just one of the kids.
Today, though, there is a real sense of meanness about the bullies that I don’t remember from my experience, or the experiences of my children. It’s no longer, “Get out of here, punk. I was here first.” Now it’s ugly, venomous personal attacks that are relentless in person and online. Now it is malicious attacks that are filmed and aired on YouTube.
What is happening with young people today is just a reflection of the meanness that seems to permeate the very air we breathe. We see it in politics. Oh, how we see it in politics. We see it in business, in sports, in social events and entertainment.
Is it any wonder that kids think it is okay to act the way they do?
In a recent commentary in Parade Magazine, Harlan Coben wrote about the cliques and social posturing in high school. He wrote, “Competition is a part of life. But I wish that we hadn’t wasted so much time and energy worrying and belittling and keeping score.”
What Coben was referring to was mild compared to what is in the movie, Mean Girls, but he offered a thought that applies in both cases. “No one has to fail so that I can succeed. In fact, maybe it is just the opposite. Maybe we are all on the same boat, and maybe we rise and sink as one.”
What has your experience been with bullies and/or cliques? What was your response?