Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.
"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Facebook: A No Bully Zone?
Facebook, we were becoming such good friends, I had even started to fondly call you FB and look forward, at times a little too eagerly I must confess, to tuning in and and reading what's on everyone's mind.
Words we say and write mean something, even our little status update quips have vast potential to cause emotions. Words have power. Do I have your attention yet?
I was dismayed by an email I received this morning, alerting me to a page Facebook has allowed to be created that spews hate and perpetuates the "bullying" problem in our society. This page was created in response to the suicide of beautiful Phoebe Prince, whose suicide was a reaction to being terrorized by her peers at school. (And feeling isolated and alone when she was ignored by the adults in charge.) It is morally reprehensible and I appreciate the outrage that this has inspired. That's why I joined a Facebook page called YA Author's Against Bullying, created by the fantastic Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall. It is simply anti-bullying, a forum for people, not just YA authors, to tell their stories and come up with solutions. But this other one goes too far. It's called Sean blank is a blankety blank blank blank, and seems to be a forum for public stoning. (Which, by the way, is exactly what happened to Phoebe Prince, a cold-blooded psychic stoning, the tormentors even laughing at Ms. Prince's death. On where? Your pages, darling.)
Facebook, you took off innocuous pictures of women breastfeeding, and kicked off Ann Magnuson for a tongue-in-cheek photo she put up of herself in lingerie. These are harmless. Why do they need to be booted off and something that causes more pain stays on?
I am full on against bullying of any kind. I've been a victim too , and it's been a long road in learning to stand up for myself. But I have three children, and while I want to shield them from bullies, I don't want to teach them to BE bullies. I want to raise them to be empathetic and respectful of others, and to know when to back away. Having power over somebody else isn't the key to happiness and success. Unfortunately, not everybody shares these values, and I've got to be realistic of what can be accomplished. We need to educate ourselves and each other about empathy and respect. I'm no saint - I certainly have been guilty of saying and writing things that I've wished I could take back and that I've had to apologize for.
And FB, I don't know exactly what you can do about it, you've done such a wonderful job of making us all feel more connected, and I know what you're gonna say - hey, being a grown-up means learning how to self-monitor and self-regulate, right? But sure, that's okay for me and I may miss the point once in a while, but what about our responsibility to teens? Is there something FB can do as an entity to have a "no tolerance" stance on the issue of cyber-bullying?
Two wrongs never make a right.
Therefore FB, I hope that you don't kick me off, but that we can start a real dialogue about what's important.
Léna Roy, a young adult author against bullying of any kind.