We no longer feel the isolation and loneliness that were common before instant communication. Through Facebook, I’ve been able to connect with old friends and meet new acquaintances with shared interests. Through Twitter, I’m able to follow a newsfeed filled with hot topics. There are so many people to communicate with – and so many opportunities to do so!
As much as I enjoy being active on Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogging, I’ve found that I am often misunderstood on social media! People reading my posts cannot see the twinkle in my eyes. They can’t hear the tone in my voice. Text messages – even with the use of emoticons – don’t allow us to look into someone’s eyes or read their body language.
Social media can be a very non-emotional form of communication. Comments can easily be taken out of context. Too often people make statements while hiding behind a computer. Facts can get twisted and feelings can get hurt when people post comments via social media that they would never say in during a face-to-face talk!
When I posted a blog taking a look inside #RealPigFarming on March 31, I received several unpleasant comments. Those comments hurt enough to make me question whether I should continue to keep blogging. That wasn’t the first time I’ve felt harassed online, and the negative effects are cumulative.
Think about it… what kind of communication are our young people having? My attention was focused on this very question while visiting with my granddaughter after one of her friends committed suicide this past week. This action was taken by a girl in Junior High!
After talking more with my granddaughter, I discovered that her friend was being bullied. Cyberbullying has become a new lethal form of bullying. Speaking of bullying, 85% of students witness bullying when adults are not present. I also learned that my granddaughter’s friend was a very troubled young girl. I understand that I’m only hearing one side of the story, but it brought mental healthcare to mind.
Why are so many kids today either involved in school shootings or taking their own lives? Many folks are quick to dismiss this topic by saying, “Kids have always been this way.” Or they ask, “What’s wrong with today’s kids?”
So many things can probably be blamed: social media, nutrition, the way we discipline our kids, and Common Core with all the testing. But I firmly believe that kids today must learn – and accept – that everyone is NOT the same. Not everyone deserves a blue ribbon. Not every team can win a game, so keep score at ball games. Teach kids how to win and lose! Kids need to learn that more effort often yields results. That way players, who don’t win every game, can feel good about their efforts. A kid who earns a red ribbon but desires a blue ribbon will be motivated to want to learn how to improve.
We need to stop making excuses and start looking for answers. Kids are dying! My granddaughter, like other teenagers facing a similar situation, is very hurt. She wonders if there was more she could have done, and the guilt she carries will be another problem. Suicide does not only involve one person; it has a huge effect so many people.
In the short term, my granddaughter needs to be reassured that she’s not to blame and that’s she’s loved! In the long term, this problem needs to be addressed by everyone. Empathy must be taught for bullying to stop, says internationally recognized educator, best-selling author, and bullying prevention expert Dr. Michelle Borba.
There isn’t a simple solution. A community must be willing to change. Community leaders, parents and educators must collaborate. What do you think is the best way to get a conversation like this started in a community?