Some snappees jump off bridges or ledges, others walk into malls or schools and blow other people away first ... same difference, different flavour. I posted this essay the other day, but everyone bitched about its length. Try stretching your brain and attention span beyond a three minute youtube segment - enough to read for ten minutes - and work your way through this ... as I believe it applies to yesterday's tragedy, as well:
Bullying: Life 101b – “Do what we say, not as we do”
The Amanda Todd situation was a true tragedy, a tragedy of epic proportions. Yet it is the broader reaches of it that are being given short-shrift, by the experts, by the public, and by the press.
It is a tragedy that a vibrant, beautiful, young woman felt compelled to take her own life, almost before it had really begun. Equally as tragic, was that it was all so unnecessary.
Todd was conversing, on-line, with a complete and total stranger. What lack of judgment, that she should expose herself physically over the web, to said stranger. This, in itself, was a recipe for disaster.
It is tragic that somehow, somewhere along the line, the age-old adage “don’t talk to strangers” (let alone “don’t expose your breasts to strangers on-line”) had either been missed, or simply hadn’t sunk well enough in; most especially in that one, ever so crucial moment.
Here, in our part of the world, during this recent half century, most children were weaned from the bottle directly onto television, and this is now the world in which we live today. Society reveres and worships fame; actors, athletes, dignitaries, the rich and famous; and so many ‘normal’ people are so deeply conditioned into believing that only by seeing oneself projected onto a television screen, does one truly gain value and credence, they film almost everything they do only to up-load it onto the web, without giving much (if any) regard to how far that footage might go, or what sort of attention it may garner.
The Go-Pro generation is here!
Yet the ubiquitous permeation and unavoidable ‘reach’ of web-based media throughout our modern world, has changed the way people (especially youth) communicate and interact; most of which the over thirty crowd (parents?) can barely understand, let alone keep up to. It is tragic, that in this day and age, the wonders and benefits of the web notwithstanding, children don’t really have a chance of enjoying the innocence of childhood for as long as they should, it being lured and seduced into worlds and knowledge far beyond their tender means, at far too early an age.
What is also being ‘missed’, is when one steps outside their box (of denial and avoidance), it becomes immediately clear that no matter what the putative public sentiment regarding bullying in general, and the Todd affair in particular; and no matter what the knee-jerk reaction of public institutions resulting in the implementation of in-school anti-bullying programs and on-line anonymous bully reporting web-sites and resources, the hard truth remains that a vast preponderance of our (so called) capitalist democratic society’s institutions and programs function by, and thus perpetuate, various forms of bullying; and that no matter how great the immediate outcry against playground, schoolyard, or on-line bullying … to deny the aforementioned exists and to still expect things in our culture to change, is the grandest example of an either completely unconscious society, or one truly lacking in sanity.
Our socio-cultural ‘system’ is, for the better part, built on the free enterprise, competitive model, where (apparently) the fittest individuals and businesses win, and (ostensibly) the ‘cream rises to the top’. The philosophy behind it, is that through said business model, scarce or limited resources are most efficiently allocated, finite space is most effectively utilized, and the greatest volume of goods and services are produced, given the input of labor, material, and capital.
However, there is a vast “cost of business” that comes hand in hand with this socio-economic model, which cost of business is that our system breeds within it’s ongoing function an aggressive, predatory behavior such that can only be described as a form of bullying, as well. It is perpetuated in all sorts of shadowy corners and halls, and is the part of our culture which, while perhaps occasionally whispered about around an odd office water-cooler, is rarely, if ever, mentioned in corporate boardrooms, or dignitary functions.
One shouldn’t forget, corporate and public institutions have neither a conscience nor a soul, and they exist solely for the purpose of wreaking a profit and perpetuating themselves. Such soul-less conduct of business, can only result in a slow and drawn out diminution of finer sensibilities and softer human values.
Its effects are patently obvious, being manifest all around us. Let me offer some examples:
- The oft discussed ‘Blue Line’ circle of self-protection within the ranks of police forces: bullying
- The threat of implementation of martial law, should the US government not have agreed to bail out the private banking sector with public funds, leading to it’s financial house effecting QE1 and QE2 (and now QE3), which by all accounts was both a redirection of public (taxpayer) funds thus used to bail out a handful of egregiously corrupt upper-level ‘money changers’, as well as the greatest corporate fleecing of a population this world has ever seen: bullying
- Many parliamentary debate session antics anywhere in the world: bullying
- The politics and policy positioning of Canada’s current federal government – especially regarding environmental issues: bullying
- The very settlement of North America by European immigrants: bullying
- The limitation of access to information deemed ‘proprietary’ and in-house secrecy within both public and private institutions: bullying
- Large capital placement and private fund donations and sponsorship influencing local, regional, national and international policy: bullying
- Involuntary tax ‘collection’ and any subsequent actions taken, should anyone fall even modestly behind in filing or payments: bullying
- The pharmaceutical industry’s financing of and direct influence over drug testing and distribution, and policy implementation, on a myriad of institutional and private levels: bullying
- Extreme violence in pro-sports and UFC competitions: bullying
- TV violence in general, family programming: bullying
- Current western nation’s foreign policy and on-gong military and intelligence engagement inside sovereign nations (often contrary to the wishes of the general voting populace): bullying
- Modern implementation of ‘affirmative action’ and other mandated but clandestine social engineering programs: bullying
- The conversion of human life and/or limb into monetary terms and values (ie: the insurance industry): bullying
It should by now be obvious, that our highly lauded socio-economic system – our west-world ‘culture’ – the very public and social institutions that govern us and are designed to protect us and provide us with security; the public and social institutions we all so often hold dear; now lord over us in all too often malevolent ways, imposing their will and interests on the near-powerless individual (in favor of the interests of those on the ‘inside’), thus effectively bullying both the individual as well as the aggregate citizen.
It is because of this, that our current social malaise arises. It is partially because of the above, that today’s youth is drawn toward the self-effacing practice of extreme body-piercing and body ink (tattoos). These practices are an oblique effort to counter-effect the feeling of disempowerment, isolation, ineffectiveness, and disenfranchisement that the afore-mentioned phenomena cause.
They are actions taken in an attempt to reclaim one’s agency; an attempt to reclaim one’s self. And it is equally tragic, that so much of today’s corporate bullying, as meted out in the marketplace and through advertising, is geared toward creating imbalances and unhappiness in the psyche of people, in order to keep them trying to counter-effect that unhappiness by buying more ‘stuff’ (as good consumers should). This whole phenomenon directly counter-effects the efforts, needs, and interests of responsible parents, all the while undermining the very fabric of family unity itself.
Yet these instigations of public and corporate institutional bullying are only one part of this tragedy. Many of the recent public movements and policies implemented against bullying, are, in effect, addressing the symptoms and not the disease. As such, there is an aspect of said policies that render even they as being yet more of the same – corporate bullying (not to mention that said institutions and committees themselves, represent a form of structural bullying).
All of this, falls under the mantle of illusion/delusion, and well illuminates the schizophrenic nature of our culture. The tendency for people to either deny or avoid unpleasant things, is an ingrained cognitive mechanism designed to auto-filter most criteria that would conflict with that individual’s adopted value system (or in other words, a ‘belief system’ or a ‘paradigm’). If those contradictions weren’t filtered and thusly minimized, all sorts of cognitive dissonance (internal conflict) would occur. Which, tragically, is yet another tragedy; for that period of cognitive dissonance, uncomfortable as it may be, is a necessary stepping stone which must be navigated, on the way to enlightened thinking.
It’s about willful self-deceit for the purpose of self-rationalization.
As our world spirals toward globalism, as resources and wealth continue to become more and more inequitably distributed (because of both structural failings within the system itself, and because of failings within the ‘checks and balance software’ of the system); the pressure within the social cauldron will only continue to build, with more and more suicides, more mass shootings, and increases in public unrest to be expected. If nothing is done to address the disease, rather than purely dressing its symptoms, eventually the very fabric of our society shall unwind completely. With the increase of both reach and degree of globalization, and the concomitant inter-connectivity of systems that comes along with it, comes a far greater degree of fragility, an increasing lack of flexibility and resilience, a loss of balance, and a significant increase in vulnerability.
Our culture at large breeds bullies. In far too many ways, it teaches children that to get ahead one has to fight and scratch and kick and scream; to push the weaker person around. It demonstrates a pattern whereby in many enclosed social environs, an accepted way to gain control and hold sway – to feel ‘empowered’ – is to do so at the expense of the other; the weaker, or the outsider.
The bully at the public podium, or the one leaning back comfortably in the institution’s leather-bound recliner, is partially to blame, even for Todd’s demise; in more than a merely abstract way. What needs be done, is a full and complete introspection of our society’s institutions and institutional values and processes, followed by a concerted and real re-direction or restructuring of the same, where required.
But this will likely never happen, as the interests and powers that be, have a vested interest in hanging onto the status quo. Advantage and entitlement wield a powerful draw, tragically leading us once again to the well worn “do what we say, not as we do” treadmill.
Yet, there is always hope. Perhaps a change in the ways of humankind is nigh.