Sunday, May 18, 2008

Cyberbully

Recently, the mother who was the deviant mastermind behind the cyberbullying case of Megan Meier was indicted (thankfully), so I thought I'd post this again. Megan's story had a huge effect on me. What do you think about all of this?

It's a hard thing to admit, even today: I was one of those kids that had a hard time making friends, and I truly hated being a kid. I was always the outsider, even when I ran with the "popular" crowd. It's taken me most of my adult life to get to the point where I'm confident about me and the way I look, and really don't put as much stock into what other people's opinions are the way I used to. I know who I am. I treat people the way I wish to be treated. Dare I say, I am a good person. I try to teach my son to do the same by setting the example. He is a great kid and I think I have something to do with that, and that makes me very proud. I think more than any other compliment, hearing that you are a good mom is the most wonderful compliment there is.

So having a hard time as a kid wasn't because I came from a broken home. It wasn't because I was poor. It wasn't because I suffered from any kind of illness. My fault, at least in the eyes of my peers, was that I was fat. Even now, it's hard for me to sit here, type this, and look at these words. Hard because even now at the age of 40, I still deal with the comments, and they still bother me to a degree, especially when they come from other "adults": You know, you are so pretty but you'd probably feel better about yourself if you lost twenty pounds... You know, you should probably take your hands off of your hips because that draws attention to them... You know, you really have a pretty face: chubby, though... You're just a big girl... (That last one, for some reason, is the one I hate the most!)

Though difficult, I'm doing this because of a story that has recently come to light. It breaks my heart, and it really pisses me off: Megan Meier. This young woman--child, really--was the subject of the type of ridicule that I was never faced with growing up, and that was bullying via the Internet. She was called fat. She was called a slut. She was told the world would be a better place without her. The bullying became so intense for Megan that she felt she had no other choice than to take her own life. She was 13.

As if all of this weren't tragic enough, it turns out that the bully in this case was an adult. Not the online predators we hear so much about, but rather the mother of her former friend. Apparently this campaign began as an attempt by said mother to find out what Megan might say about her former friend behind her back. Under the guise of a young man trying to woo Megan, this person lulled Megan into believing she had a cyber-boyfriend, got her comfortable, happy even, then with whatever deep-down evil this person had inside, harnessed it and began the demise of Megan.I am smart enough to know that the value our society places on the "beautiful" people will probably never change. With that said, though, I also know the value of character, of kindness, of spirit. Our children need to know that they are worth more than their looks.

Tragically, Megan was made to believe that she was not worthy of us. I wonder if it's really the other way around.

6 comments:

Regan said...

I teach 8th grade, and this is a battle I fight daily. I was bullied mercilessly, and I won't put up with it in my class. That said, I can't be everywhere for my kids. I make it clear to these tortured children that there are nasty people in this world. There are also broken, sad kids in this world who may not really be mean, but go through this phase of inflicting terror. Those targeted need to hear very frequently that the terror DOES dissipate. No, all the mean people don't disappear, but the older we get the more easily we find others who like people for what's on the inside. Then it becomes easier to see that those mean people have something wrong with them - something hurt or broken inside. Then it will become easier and easier to ignore them.

That said, I wouldn't go back to middle school for a million bucks. I feel so sad for that little girl.

Amy said...

Regan: How well you put that! I know now, too, that the people doing the bullying to me had something wrong with them and try to teach my son the same...

I'm with you on going back, too... NO WAY, NO HOW would I ever go back. That sucks, doesn't it?

holly said...

Hey ladies,
Former 8th grade teacher here joining your discussion. Now I have two daughters, and the bullying, backstabbing, "mean girls" culture began last year in kindergarten! It's awful. Two books to read that you might like ( though Amy, I see you have a son...) "Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls" by Rachel Simmons. So good and so helpful. Another girl-related one I read last year was "Unhooked" by Laura Sessions Step. It's all about the culture of "hooking up," following middle school, high school and college girls throughout their relationship development stages. So interesting! Great post, Amy. And Regan, I wish there were more teachers like you who actually talk to kids about it and don't turn the other cheek to this destructive behavior.

Amy said...

Holly: Hey. Thank you so much for your input and your compliment... Even though I have a son, I still worry about the bullying and backstabbing. I look forward to checking out the works you recommended. Thanks so much!!!

tracey said...

I'm a middle school survivor & currently have a daughter in 7th grade. I would not go back for a million dollars - not even exaggerating. I never cease to be amazed at how cruel we can be to each other - teenage girls are particularly gifted - but Lori Drew has taught us some of us never get past that petty mean streak and sometimes cultivate it until it becomes pure evil.

On that happy note - found you off LOTD - great blog.

Amy said...

Tracey, I like that: "Middle School Survival." Damn if that isn't true! Excellent way of putting it.

Thank you!!! I always appreciate your comments on LOTD... Hope you come back.