In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.
He created water and plants and animals *obviously I’m paraphrasing here but bear with me*.
And he created man and woman–his crowning creation.
And that crowning creation had to learn how to keep this planet revolving through communication, hard work, family relationships, and expression. This crowning creation evolved over thousands of years, learning what it takes to survive–and thrive–together.
In those days, days that our parents and possibly even we got to enjoy (when we only had one world) it was hard to confront a neighbor about the dog that keeps peeing in your yard. It was guilt-riddling when you accidentally voiced how someone’s new haircut looks bad, and you had to deal with watching the tears roll down their blushing cheeks. It was sometimes hard to express an opinion different than someone else’s because you were worried that he or she might take it the wrong way–and that was TERRIBLE because you CARED about them. I remember those good ol’ days–and I’m not even THAT old.
But then, God’s crowning creation decided to create their own world. A new world. Cyberspace. Complete with walls, streams of popular music and videos always playing in the background, instant letters that pop up before someone’s eyes within seconds of sending–even without a stamp. In this world we hang a picture of ourselves and invite friends in, even friends we don’t know. We share our photo albums and quickly leaf through others’ as well. We laugh (lol) and we cry ( 😥 ) and all the while we hide.
We hide behind brightly lit computer screens, sometimes thousands of miles away from the person we invite inside our “domain”.
And suddenly, with the creation of that new world which popped up not even that long ago– so many of us have forgotten that the “friends” or “followers” or the voiceless profile pictures that we interact with on a daily basis are people just like us, another one of God’s crowning creations, hidden behind another computer screen.
And with that lapse in memory as we live within our comfortable cyber houses and decorate our cyber walls, so many people become people they never would have been in the world we were supposed to live in–the one with real water and mountains, real expressive faces, and real houses full of real friends.
Cyberbullying, a new term that had to be coined because of the fact that it takes place in a new world, is causing God’s crowning creation to turn against one another with cold-heartedness that comes because we’ve forgotten each other. We’ve forgotten that in this simulated house we’ve built, we have real guests who will at some point leave, and take with them what we’ve said.
Just a couple days ago I heard this story.
A 12-year-old girl–a pretty, smart, sweet girl– jumped off of a building and killed herself. Why? Because the visitors within this cyber world, the ones cowering behind computer screens, told her to. They told her that she’s hated. That she deserves to die. They called her names and continuously jabbed at her–not even giving a second thought before hitting “enter” or “post”. Day after day, even after she shut down various forms of communication, they got through to her. And finally, that cyber world meshed with her real world. And she jumped, just like someone told her to. It took less than ten seconds for someone to type that–someone who probably doesn’t even know her in this real world. Ten seconds stole the life of someone who had been alive for 12 years.
Cyber-bullying is real. It’s not some abstract, horrible story we hear about in the movies. Open your newsfeed. Read comments on a blog. Sift through comments on a news story or pictures in an online album. I promise that within minutes you’ll find a trace of it. You most likely have even been a vicim of it. I know I have. And that’s because not all cyber-bullies would be real-life bullies–some of them are kind, responsible people in the real world.
In real life, those bullies have to look into the eyes of the ones they call names. They have to see someone wince with pain at every insult or shrink back in fear over a threat. They have to hear responses from those they converse with and learn real-life stories told with real pain or real emotion. The emoticons such as this: 😀 or this: 😦 are actually the sounds of someone laughing, someone crying. But in cyber land, they are silent. The only sound we hear is the tapping of our fingers against the keys and our own thoughts–thoughts sometimes riddled with rage or selfishness.
We are still God’s crowing creation. And we still share this beautiful, REAL earth with beautiful, REAL friends and even strangers who come along the way. And whether it be your cyber place, complete with little updates about your day or photos from your last family vacation, or your real home, complete with conversation, manners, and handshakes– be a good host.
Because your visitors, your friends, and your followers will leave at some point, looking up from cyberspace and into the real world.
And they’ll remember how you made them feel.
I wish the cyber-bullies who hurt that precious 12-year-old would understand that. I wish they’d realize she took those words with her, long after she exited that online realm and took a leap off a very real, dangerous tower.
I wish everyone would realize that sticks and stones sure do break bones, but words–those matter too.
Even in that other world that we ourselves created.