Sunday, February 5, 2012

GUEST POST: “Bullying: A Social Plague” – by Nathan Squiers


NATHAN SQUIERS, author ofDEATH METALshares his view onBULLYING: A SOCIAL PLAGUE

It doesn't seem too long ago that I was a schoolboy and facing the cruel elements of my fellow peers. While teachers and other figures of authority did what they could to keep the severity of the situations under control, bullies still got to flex their collective muscle. At that time--and all times before that--the internet wasn't the driving social tool that it has become, and while bullying was a painful and wretched reality that every child, myself included, had to face, it nevertheless faded at the end of the day when I and my peers were released from school and able to go home. Once safe-and-sound at my home, like a professional boxer retreating to their corner at the end of a round, I was able to wind down. After a few hours of homework and television/video games, the mental aches-and-pains from that day's harassments were little more than a clouded nightmare that I had endured and awoken out of.

And so, day-after-day I, and many others like me, endured the cycle; tolerating it with the awareness that there was only so much the bullies could dish out before that last bell rang and we were on the bus.

Also, for me at least, I was permitted five "mental-health days" per school quarter. While I couldn't collect these to gain a full school-week off, they did do the trick of further healing from a particularly bad day if needed.

But with the blossoming of new technologies and the constant potential attachment with the entire world (like it or not). Unfortunately (an incredibly inappropriate-yet-all-too-often-used-word in regards to the subject), for victims of bullying--which, sadly, is most who attend school or any other similar establishment--there is no longer an escape when school lets out. Nowadays, kids get to head home not just with the residual sting of that day's torment fresh on their mind, but the ever-growing anxiety of what publicly-available hell awaits them when they log on.

While I don't consider myself "old" or "behind the times" it seems to me that this is not only an atrocious way to treat one's peers, but an incredibly improper way to use a technology that has such vast and monumental potential for good. Facebook, and other such global networking sites, provide a means for anybody at any location to reach out and make a difference in the lives of anybody else, anyplace else in the world. And how do we react to such a networking treasure?

By torturing one another?!

Are we as a species truly so wrapped up in our own petty selves that the happiness and comfort of our fellow man is as easily destroyed as an insect on the wall? Have we truly lost all decency? Have we truly become so blind?

Albert Einstein once said, "It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity" and no truer words could be said on the subject (I'll allow a tremor of dread to now pass as you realize that this quote is more-than six decades old; more than enough time if you ask me for us to further build on technology and further lose our humanity).

Just imagine, we have a means of providing soothing words, powerful advice, or life-changing wisdom with eager and deserving minds all over the world and most would rather use it to ridicule somebody in their math class because they're a little different (because, let's face it, you're nobody if you don't look and act like everybody else).

Meanwhile, rather than owning up to years-upon-years of slacking and turning away from an ever-worsening issue, schools feel the need to, rather than owning up to their responsibilities and showing some real effort, insist that nothing is wrong while we're forced to sit and read and/or watch stories of youth across the country forced into a mindset that actually drives them to commit suicide--not just contemplating hurting themselves, but actually taking their own lives because of an inability to further stomach the torrents of harassment that have become a hellish routine!

We are, as we always have been, human beings--mammals with a mentality dedicated to the "herd" like most other warm-blooded creatures on this planet--and it's coming dangerously close to the point where we as a species figure out what herd mentality means or suffer a self-destructive extinction. People seem to have some instinctual apprehension to the comparison between the species and the behavior of a virus--an entity that exists only to spread and destroy to maintain its own existence--and yet, studying the social patterns that we're taking, it's difficult to see any sort of natural instinct to follow a mindset of "protect the herd". We've become so calloused to the simple needs of others; needs like love, affection, compassion, dignity, and respect. We may very well be too damn selfish and stubborn to help the little guy up, but do we really--REALLY--have to go out of our way to crush them body, mind, and essence?

Is it truly so hard to NOT be cruel?

Is it really so pleasurable to destroy others?


I have seen firsthand the depths that this problem has dug itself into our lives. Several months back, an Upstate New York high school student took her life because of the bullying she faced at school and online. To try and spread awareness and memorialize their lost loved one, the friends and family of this poor girl created a Facebook page in her honor. When I learned of this, I promptly "Liked" the page and offered my condolences as best I could to the bereaved in the form of a post on the page's wall. Not soon after being posted I was notified of a response to the comment. Please note that not one word of this is an exaggeration or a lie (I'm a fantasy author by trade and I couldn't imagine making up such monstrous events), but as I scanned the rapidly growing responses to my supportive post, I saw that only one-in-every-three were positive and/or grateful for my sentiments. The majority of the responses came from the very bullies who had driven the girl to suicide, and rather than showing remorse--rather than hiding in the shadows where they belong--they gathered like vultures and urged both myself and all other supporters to kill themselves as well, citing that a world filled with cultural, sexual, and religious diversity was not a world worth being proud of.

"You should think about killing yourself."

They'd turned it into a mantra of hate; one that they used repeatedly--an opening and closing statement and often laced in every other sentence of their hate-driven rants.

"You should think about killing yourself."

Believe me when I say that most kids nowadays DO think about killing themselves, and it rarely stops at thought if something isn't done!

The floodgates of hopelessness have burst and the new generation is already at risk of drowning in the inevitable flood and, well aware that the bully will not soon cease and the schools will never admit fault the responsibility falls into the hands of us; those that SEE the monumental threat for what it is: a social plague that can now travel the globe in a blink of an eye. And while this certainly presents itself as a terrifying responsibility I can assure you that you're more-than equipped to fight back. These victims, starved for affection and desperate for understanding, need only know--need only FEEL--that they have a purpose and a right to be here. These brave-yet-tortured souls that hold such promise for our combined futures--brave souls, brilliant and unique, that will no doubt be the defining members of our society if given the opportunity to see tomorrow--need and deserve to see that being blessed with consciousness and awareness is not a punishment.

If somebody you know is the victim of bullying--be it your child, your sibling, your friend, etc. . . .-- in any way, shape, or form, it is your job to not do more damage by ignoring their situation. We are getting glimpses of what escape means to these kids and what lengths they'll go to to achieve it and that is all the warning we're going to get. Set aside the time to show them their company is valued and cherished--that they are valued and cherished--and give them a reason to fight against the darkness growing inside their hearts so that they can see tomorrow.

A tomorrow that holds the potential to be better than today for all of us.

ABOUT author NATHAN SQUIERS

Born in Massachusetts in 1986, Nathan grew up in Andover where his affinity for story-telling flourished due to a love of books and movies as well as an overactive imagination. At the age of 13, Nathan and his mother moved to upstate New York to be closer to their family.

After surviving public school, where he spent most of his days locked away in the AV room watching old 80s movies on Laserdisc and planning out his next video project, Nathan began a shaky college career. A love of inventing and telling stories was motivation enough to pursue an education in English, and, as luck would have it, a series of phenomenal professors were presented to get him pointed in the right direction. It was in his first years of college that Nathan began to actively pursue a writing career, starting his first literary journey with a piece that would become Crimson Shadow (due for release summer of 2012 by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing).
Like any good story, a chaotic turn of events brought Nathan from the very brink of insanity and loneliness to the warm, comforting embrace of Megan, his best friend, lover, kindred spirit, and--more often than not--personal handler. It was with Megan at his side that Nathan was able to continue his writing (sometimes solely motivated by the young lady's threats of dismemberment if he tried to stop). With Megan's help, Nathan was able to see Death Metal, his fourth manuscript, through the publication process.

Nearly ten years later, Nathan continues to invent stories and put them into a literary sequence that he hopes will be somehow decipherable by other readers. As a lover of all things creative, he works in both novels, novellas, short stories, as well as comic book scripts (just don't ask him to draw something if you don't like stick figures and poorly-executed shapes).

BOOKS by NATHAN SQUIERS

DEATH METAL

OVERVIEW

Life was good and the future was bright for up-and-coming heavy metal band, Bloodtones. With a steadily-growing fan-base, the five members looked forward to a promising career in the music industry.

And then things went to hell.

Soon after a strange sighting, the Bloodtones' lead singer, Bekka, finds herself capable of the impossible and in mortal danger from otherworldly forces that catch even the non-human members of the band off guard. With their rock-solid future rapidly crumbling before their eyes, the Bloodtones find themselves struggling for not only their music...

but their very lives.

Crimson Shadow (series)
*available Summer 2012

Comic books
*in progress

Death Metal is available for purchase on Amazon.com at:

Reviews can be found on Goodreads at:

And a Death Metal trailer, made by Megan Parker, can be seen on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdGOHF30Km4 

AUTHOR LINKS

Author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nathan.Squiers
Google+: "Nathan Squiers" (NSquiers0615@gmail.com)
Personal author page: http://www.nathansquiers.com/ 

1 comment:

Wanda Hart said...

Brilliant post on bullying! Is is that hard not to be cruel?