Dear Annie: This is a message to the girl who was cyberbullied: I know you have a beautiful spirit because you thought the best about the girls and didn’t understand their ugliness. Internal beauty gets more beautiful with time, physical beauty less so. (That doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful outside, too.) The main girl and her followers are attacking you because they see that you are different. Using their experience and vocabulary, the closest they can come is “nerd.” It is your choice to be bullied or not, not theirs. If you’re not bullied, they will be wasting their time, and people will see them as they are.
Don’t look at their stuff, and don’t pay attention to them in school. To be more “nerdy,” write, “I forgive you, and I am moving on.” Help another good nerdy girl, as two are stronger together. It will encourage others and open up a whole new world with the kind of people you want to be with. They are out there. — Concerned Grandmother
Dear Concerned: Thank you for your beautiful letter. Focusing on the beauty inside of people will lead to a much happier, more fun and more joyful life. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and you are encouraging this beautiful young girl to find her tribe. I love it!
Dear Annie: Before cyberbullying, my grandson was physically bullied by a leader and two boys. They knocked him down, broke his arm and threatened his life in school. They got away with it. My daughter contacted the police, who secured counseling for the bullies. The police said that in another year, the boys would have been so emboldened as to be beyond help and most likely would be in the criminal justice system.
Today, my “nerdy” grandson has a master’s degree and a lovely wife. They have a darling baby; a nice home; many kind, successful friends; and spectacular careers. Happy endings can take time and effort. — Grateful Grandma
Dear Grateful Grandma: It was wonderful that your daughter involved the police and you were all able to stop events that could have turned tragic. I’m always reminded of the famous Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. Sometimes, the slower to develop or bloom end up winning the race. In life, that goal is to find happiness and to be surrounded by friends and family, filled up with warmth and love. You should be so proud of your grandson, and your daughter is something special. (c) Annie Lane @ Creators.com
I’m sure the first letter writer meant well, but… geez.
Using their experience and vocabulary, the closest they can come is “nerd.”
No… I think the kids today are using way uglier words than that. I long for the days of just being called a nerd! 😮 How antiquated! Like, “Hey, four-eyes!” (Was that ever really a thing? Teasing people for wearing eyeglasses, really? Lame.)
It is your choice to be bullied or not, not theirs. If you’re not bullied, they will be wasting their time, and people will see them as they are.
That’s ridiculous on so many levels. If the bullying is physical, then there’s no way to “choose” to avoid it. If the bullying is internet-related, like cyber-bullying, then yes, you can avoid it… in theory… but who among us has the wherewithal to not read hurtful stuff posted about us online? NO ONE!
The following metaphor has nothing to do with bullying, but if someone were to tell me, “Hey, Meg, someone just gave one of your books 1-star on Goodreads,” is there any parallel universe in which I wouldn’t immediately go to Goodreads and read the review (assuming they wrote one)? Is that level of superhuman restraint even possible?
It’s not possible, no, and it shouldn’t be preached about by this letter writing grandmother.
If you’re not bullied, they will be wasting their time, and people will see them as they are.
IF ONLY. [Makes exasperated face.]
To be more “nerdy,” write, “I forgive you, and I am moving on.”
Hey, them’s fightin’ words. I wouldn’t write that if I were she. No, no, no, no, no. She may as well paint a red bullseye on her forehead.
Help another good nerdy girl, as two are stronger together.
Yes. Power to the nerds! I actually do like this advice. If you can befriend enough nerds, then there’s safety in numbers. Why do I suddenly want to watch Revenge of the Nerds I-IV again? I used to love those movies. Oh my gosh. I think that in today’s time, the nerd would be whoever’s using the word “nerd”. Um, it’s so yesteryear.
Then we have this response by Annie Lane:
Thank you for your beautiful letter. Focusing on the beauty inside of people will lead to a much happier, more fun and more joyful life. Your vibe attracts your tribe, and you are encouraging this beautiful young girl to find her tribe. I love it!
Okay. Um, inner beauty is great, but not so much when you’re in high school. Also, the whole vibe attracting your tribe stuff could be true, but it most definitely isn’t true when you’re more-or-less trapped with a particular group of kids in school.
Moving onto the second letter, that’s not bullying. It’s assault and battery and making death threats. (I realize there’s some overlap between bullying and crimes, though, but I just want to point out that these boys are criminals as well as bullies.)
Is it good that they got into therapy? It can’t hurt, but come on. They should’ve gotten in trouble with the law, sent to juvie, etc. That said, I don’t blame anyone in the situation other than the police, who totally dropped the ball; but at least they did something, and honestly, getting the little criminals counseling is a good move.
I’ve never understood why some people belittle physical violence by saying, “It’s just a little bullying.” Uh-huh. Like that makes it okay? Like that’s even true?
And then we have Annie Lane’s response:
I’m always reminded of the famous Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. Sometimes, the slower to develop or bloom end up winning the race.
Umm…. okay, as an avid lover of the tortoise and the hare (no kidding, I loved the story as a kid, and it really speaks to me), I think Annie Lane’s off the mark here. The fable is all about how slow and steady wins the race. In other words, set realistic goals, keep making steady progress, and don’t give up. The hare thought he was all that, but he was all flash and no substance. I don’t think the fable’s about being a late bloomer. It’s partly about the downfall of assuming you’ve got the win in the bag, and it’s partly about not giving up and going at your own pace to do your own best.
Sometimes, the slower to develop or bloom end up winning the race.
Problem: I can’t even tell who Annie Lane’s referring to. Is it the kid with the broken arm, or his bullies? [Shaking my head in confusion.] If she’s referring to the kid with the broken arm who’s now living a successful and happy life, we have no evidence that he was a late bloomer. Why should being bullied infer a pejorative message about the victim? Like, “Oh, you were bullied, so you must’ve been a nerd.” Wait for it…
Thank you for your facepalm, Ernie.
It’s ridiculous to preach the message that you can prevent being bullied. Um, tell that to the bullies, why don’t we? “You have no power to bully me.” That’ll go over real well. I’m not sure what the solution is, but if I had kids I would urge them to come to me at the first sign that something’s wrong.
This came up in my memoir: I had a friend in high school who told me how her parents spanked her when she was younger. In first or second grade, she was terrified to go to school because an older girl was terrorizing her and bullying her. Her parents knew this, but they “forced” her to be brave by spanking her if she hesitated to go to school. And after she was spanked, she still had to go to school, or she’d keep getting spanked. Would it have been asking too much for her parents to have met with the school principal and nipped the situation in the bud? This friend of mine, Jessica, was well-adjusted and very grounded, and she stood by her parents’ actions; and her parents seemed as nice as pie. I find it appalling.