No matter how you look at it, bullying is everywhere. It is an epidemic that plagues our society. Starting at a very early age, it is virtually impossible to make it throughout grade school unscathed. Young students have practically made it a sport to prey on poor unsuspecting children, and moral fiber has unfortunately gone out the window as society’s values and respect for the fellow human being is a thing of the past. Common decency is rapidly unraveling and dissipating as people feel an increasing sense of self-entitlement, existing only in their one dimensional islands. This leads to an increase in crime as punishment for such behavior has deteriorated. In some cases, our society even rewards it, and this inherent reward system must be removed directly if we want to begin to disentangle the intricate web of bullying that has sprung forth.
This brings me to the point of an anti-bullying marketing campaign. Our lives are constantly bombarding us with images of what we should be perpetuating feelings of inferiority and insecurity. We are never good enough. This damaging of already precarious sense of self in the younger American citizen serves to make them easier prey for the tormenter who mentally abuses them in their effectively weakened state. It is almost as if this dissemination of images we measure ourselves by to this reference group is a form of bullying in itself, a kind of meta-bullying.
Remember the last presidential election, when celebrities were involved in an advertising campaign to advocate for people to vote? Or the fact that you almost never see people smoking in the movies anymore? It can be presumed this is in effort to reduce smoking. By not being in movies anymore, people smoking all over the place, smoking is no longer seen as “cool.” These two examples clearly demonstrate the powerful effect the media has on the population at large, including our behaviors.
These images shape our perceptions on a subconscious level about what we should or shouldn’t do (or be like), and what’s cool and what’s not. It is through this reasoning that one could logically conclude that issues such as bullying can be addressed directly and/or indirectly through the media. More movies could be made with commonly idolized celebrities occupying main roles. To communicate subliminally that it is “un-cool” to bully, and conversely “cool” not to bully.
Rather than ineffective policies, let’s not do the same thing over and over, but instead try something new. In an environment where teachers and parents do not solve the problem, we must instead attack it from the sides. However, these methods must be used in combination. It is worth noting that I myself am writing a pseudo-autobiographical novel, which involves bullying as central to the story. Though the longer term goal should be to reduce media’s effect on our young and vulnerable society, perhaps in the short term we should use whatever tools are available to deter bullying.