I, like many people, find it oddly hilarious when celebrities read mean tweets about themselves on Jimmy Kimmel. But what's decidedly less hilarious — by which I mean not hilarious at all — is watching kids read mean tweets about themselves in any context. And watching a video of kids doing just that gives you a whole different perspective on cyberbullying.
The video, created by a group called the Canadian Safe School Network, parodies the popular, recurring Jimmy Kimmel sketch to draw attention to the way mean online comments can affect kids. "It's easy to laugh at rich celebrities reading some of the terrible things people have said about them online. We condone it. We even revel in it," Canadian Safe School Network said in a press release. "But this same behavior is turning almost 40 percent of Canadian kids into victims of cyberbullying. It's a growing epidemic that invades their lives and leaves many feeling like there's no way out."
There is an obvious difference between saying mean things to or about celebrities and doing the same to classmates. Celebrities are obviously still people and saying mean things about them is still mean, but they are also public figures. It's understood that people are always going to talk about public figures, as well as that people can be idiots at times. I'm sure hearing mean things still hurts, but I'd also imagine that adult celebrities are reasonably emotionally equipped to handle online nastiness. Plus, when people have never met you before, you're hopefully not going to take what they say personally, anyway.
But for teens, hearing mean things from your peers is personal. It's not about some random commenter mouthing off about a celebrity they've never met and likely never will meet; it's about people who do know you, people you have to see regularly, being willfully hurtful. And it can have terrible effects on a child's self-esteem, especially when it happens over and over and over again. But as we see in this video, even once kind of sucks. The bottom line is that no instances of cyberbullying are ever acceptable, and we need to step up to the plate and teach kids why.
Here are five terrible tweets that teens have had to process. (Mild trigger warning here for bullying, including some involving weight, race, ableism, and suicide.)
1. The Ones Who Try To Be "Funny"
It's not just that this joke is bad. Making cruel jokes at a classmate's expense is not actually funny, ever. People are not punchlines.
2. Slut Shaming
Judging other people's sex lives is not cool. Being an ass about it on the Internet does not make you cool.
3. Body Shaming
Other people's bodies are not yours to judge, guys. And this sucks.
4. Being Generally Awful and Offensive
Way to be classy, dude. In that really, really not classy kind of way.
To answer your question: Yes, that is racist. In fact, judging an entire race based on the action of an individual member is kind of textbook racism. Also, being racist towards anyone, ever, is unacceptable behavior.
The Canadian Safe Schools Network currently has a fundraiser on Indiegogo to hopefully help them continue raising awareness about cyberbullying. You can check it out here. And you can find the full video below.
Images: Canadian Safe School Network/YouTube (5)