Opinion and Social Media

This post isn’t about Caitlyn Jenner.

It is, however, spurned by all the pervasive conversation about her in the media — whether you want to read about her or not, it’s going to happen. I’m neutral on the whole matter — I don’t know what it’s like to feel born in the wrong body, I don’t know what it’s like to be raised in the 50s and 60s, I don’t know what it’s like to be famous. (I’m pretty grateful for all that.)

There’s been a lot of war over several controversial topics in the past several months, none of which I’ve felt particularly inclined to join ranks. In fact, when it comes to anything more than pithy or non-substantive, I don’t share my opinion on really anything in a public manner. Oh, sure, I’ll come right out and tell you you’re wrong for not giving sushi a chance, but I don’t think a war of the ages will erupt over it.

If one were to erupt, I’d probably encourage you to seek out some mood stabilizers.

This is largely personal choice — I used to be a lot more vocal with my opinions, popular or not, because it was my RIGHT to share them, I was ENTITLED to share them with people, they NEEDED to hear what I had to say. I’d say the first of these notions is the most correct, but I’m going to just let you in on a secret you’ll learn by the time you’re in your thirties — you’re not really entitled to do anything, and nearly no one actually needs to hear what you have to say. Oh sure, it’s fun to let the world know, just by clicking one “post” button, exactly how you feel about a particular topic at a very specific time and date in your life, in this way that almost implies your opinion will not be changing because you’ve made it Facebook/Twitter official, but when all is said and done, when people have been blocked and relationships have been severed, was it actually worth it? Did anyone actually win?

image

It’s my right, as a human being, to have the opinions I do, and I choose to share them at will with very specific people at very specific times (and lest you think I only associate with like-minded people, might I remind you that I am a registered Democrat in Utah, so). I don’t care much for conflict these days, nor do I have the tolerance for unnecessary argument, and it gets really old really fast to hear people tell others that they’re wrong. Just to educate you really briefly,

opinion

noun opin·ion \ə-ˈpin-yən\

: a belief, judgment, or way of thinking about something : what someone thinks about a particular thing

You might (and can) disagree, but opinion isn’t one of those things that can be right or wrong. I’ll just go ahead and repeat that part — opinion isn’t right or wrong. That’s what makes opinions so magical. Just as I imagine you hope someone would allow you to think or feel however you wish, you should probably allow others the same courtesy, even the ones whose opinions are hand-wringingly, fist shakingly, eye rollingly bad.

And that’s what this post is really about. The opinions that are, shall we say, less than popular.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons, LDS, etc.), I’ve seen my fair share of response to what is considered unpopular belief. And not to get into the ins and outs of it all (because, as we’ve already established, my religious beliefs are my own, and if you don’t like what a particular religion has to say, then move on), I’ll just kind of leave it at that. But in the media, especially as of late, those Mormons (insert head shake here) are just some awfully bigoted, old-fashioned, reverse-thinking haters. DAMN THEM ALL. [I shouldn’t have to put this here, but I’m being totally facetious here. I respect the teachings of my church and believe almost all of them whole-heartedly — hey I’m a human after all — and think everyone should have respect for Mormons.] I actually missed those lessons in Church, so I just love everyone no matter what. [That’s a stretch. I have no room in my heart to love people who are cruel to animals or children.] Chances are a lot of Mormons are kind of in the same camp as me. If we’re going to be honest here.

And there’s the rub. You’re encouraged to voice your opinion all day and all night, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram (do people do that? Do they share opinions on Instagram? I just share pictures of food.), UNLESS (and here’s the real caveat) you’re in the camp of the unpopular. And then probably keep it to yourself.

There’s something really polarizing about that mentality, and I find it often very unfair. It’s great if you have the same opinion as the rest of the world, but if yours is even the slightest bit different, if you’ve come to a fork in the road and gone the other route, then it’s just much easier for everyone if you would just not say a word ever. Keep it to yourself, they say. Just don’t talk about it. The thing is, however, when it comes to sharing one’s opinion, especially quite publicly and socially, it’s not a one-sided thing. Shouldn’t everyone be allowed to voice his/her opinion no matter the stance without fear of major repercussion? Though I choose not to, if I WERE to get real personal about something controversial (and I did so in a non-inflammatory manner — guys that’s so important. You can absolutely disagree with people without being inflammatory, I promise.), shouldn’t I be afforded the same rights as the people whose opinion is most agreed upon? Shouldn’t everyone?

I think so. But that’s my opinion.

To switch gears a little bit, there are some truths you need to understand about sharing your opinion, popular or not, on social media. I actually wrote an entire senior capstone on how social media (at the time, MySpace because I’m old. Really old. Pluto was a planet when I was a kid old.) was going to alter the way society interacted with itself forever. #nailedit

While I find there are a lot of major benefits to social media, the downsides are becoming almost too prevalent for me. That might be because I’m getting older and ain’t nobody got time for dat. People are too quick to judge, to argue, to defriend, and to gossip these days, and *sighs* it doesn’t feel worth it in the end. Anyhow. The Truths.

  1. Being inflammatory isn’t going to get you anywhere. I imagine the majority of people will be happy to hear your opinion so long as you’re not a jerk about it.
  2. Educated, researched opinion is easier for most people to swallow than the rantings and ravings of someone who, ultimately, just wants an audience. We know what you’re doing.
  3. Not everyone is going to agree with you. Plan on people doing so in the same public way you shared your opinion in the first place. If you don’t want to hear anyone else’s views, then perhaps you shouldn’t post yours and instead discuss it with your family and close friends.
  4. Sometimes, even if you’re not inflammatory or rude, people will respond in that manner. It’s frustrating. It’s uncalled for. Being frustrating and uncalled for back isn’t going to get you anywhere, so if you’re unhappy letting them be that way without argument, well … see #3.
  5. Understand that those with unpopular views on a particular topic, especially those motivated by religious beliefs and practices, have just as much right to share them as everyone else, even *sighs* the Westboro Church, though they really need to understand #1-3, amirite. Before going on the offensive, consider the notion that you may not fully understand that person’s religion because you lack the faith that drives you to follow the teachings and principles of it. Faith is a powerful thing for religious people, and they do not take it lightly.
  6. Sometimes your opinion will change over time. Before you go in, guns ablazin’ about a particular topic, consider that, and then consider whether you’re willing to deal with possible backlash when it does, and you share it, again, in a public manner. People will dredge up the past and point out to you your newfound self-contradiction. Because people love a fight.
  7. Your opinion is actually not affected in any way by whether you post it to social media or not. I have loads of opinions, and they’re just as real and true today as they will be tomorrow, despite the fact that I haven’t broached them, ever, in a public forum.

Facebook+arguments_ec7dd2_3634617

And (again this is my opinion) for the love of all that is good and holy, if you see a Facebook thread war, don’t jump into it. That’s ridiculous. No one’s minds will be changed, no one’s going to see the light, it’s just going to create a disgusting amount of notifications for everyone involved and a lot of anger. Go ahead and try to not ruin your family’s evening with the fire in your belly that’s come from a Facebook war. Just try it.

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A Message to the Girls of the World

I’m thirty, which to some of you is painfully old (like your parents) and to some not too bad. But one thing is certain: I’ve experienced a lot of stuff in these thirty years, despite you thinking perhaps we old folk don’t get it (we do).

Being a grown up is both enjoyable and adversely terrible. Like, you can take naps, but it’s kind of frowned upon by some, and if you take one too late or too long, your body clock is thusly screwed up for the next month. And you have to pay for everything, which let me tell you is a mega bummer. Your mom isn’t around to clean the house, so unless you’re fine with living in squalor, you have to clean it. Every week. Dishes: the bane of our existence. Even with a dishwasher, trust me. They’re just always there no matter what.

PAP smears suck about as much as you assume they do. The key is never have sex and then you can get one every three years (I’m kind of kidding but also kind of not because seriously no one likes to go to the OB/GYN). Sometimes you just don’t want to wear a bra, in which case don’t. You’ll find that home becomes wherever the pants aren’t — they’re the first thing to come off, and I don’t say that in a crude, sexual manner. I mean it in an “Adults hate to wear pants” way.

Don’t let yourself go when you get married. I’m not sure if this is a myth or reality, but it seems to happen all the time (I started to let myself go on the honeymoon, which God bless my husband for sticking around this long). I don’t mean to stress about your weight or your hair or your makeup or your clothes, but trust me: you feel better about yourself and your day when you’re clean and are wearing real clothes rather than sweats. Leggings are real clothes, I kid you not. Invest in several pairs because they’re like sweats but not. If you find a guy who wants you to always have long hair, ditch him.

Image  courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

I’ve put Husband through the ringer with all my many hairstyles, and there have definitely been some he hated. Guess what: he didn’t divorce me, and he still kissed me when he got home from work. We may have come to an agreement that such hairstyles won’t make an appearance again forever awhile, but in all reality, I wasn’t particularly crazy about them either (don’t tell him. He’ll get a big head.)

If you find a man who makes you forget yourself, tells you what to do, makes you feel lonely, hates the things you love to do, doesn’t support every single hobby you ever try out, even the lame ones everybody knows won’t work out — if he seems to only love you conditionally, if you can’t fart in front of him, if you’re worried about what he’ll think when you take off your makeup and slide in your night guard, HE. IS. NOT. THE. ONE. Look, I get it, you’re hardwired and built to have a companion all the days of your eternity, so you just wanna be with someone all the time and snuggle. I got married about six years later than I thought I might in high school (high school Mary was really eager and hopeful), and I’m glad I had to wait. It helped me weed out the idiots and hone in on exactly what I didn’t want, so when I met Husband, it was quick and painless.

Men can still be as awful as boys and teenagers, and there’s something inherently worse about that because they’re grown ups, so they should know better. Chances are, they were raised by their mothers to become gentlemen, and they just missed the mark. Heartbreak is inevitable.

Enjoy making out now because when you get married, it’s basically never going to happen.

If you want the cookie, eat the damn cookie. I went a stretch counting calories and measuring my food, and sure the end results were freakin awesome, but I was truly miserable the entire thing. Just remember: portion control. Eat what you want, just a little less of it as you get older. Because trust me when I say you’ll turn 23, and your metabolism rate will give up the ghost. Exercise in the way you want to — if you hate running, then seriously don’t run. I mean, really. Life is way too short to spend a portion of your day in the gym doing something that makes you unhappy (even if it’s making you chemically overjoyed. Endorphins aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.)

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Money will get tight at some point in your life, unless you marry an heir/heiress who is just independently wealthy. Being forced to live budget-friendly will help you out for the rest of your life, even though it feels awful at the time, but DO NOT under any circumstances, buy store brand cheese. You can save money elsewhere — cheese is not the place to do it. Same goes for butter, unless, I suppose, you’re allergic to lactose. I’m so, so, so sorry. Cheese is what will get you through every single hard time, so splurge a little. Buy the Tillamook.

Even when you’re a grown up, you’ll be able to sense when people don’t like you. Don’t let this deter you — be nice, always, and surround yourself with people who think you’re as great as you think they are. Find others who laugh at all your jokes, like all your Facebook status updates, and go to all the movies your husband won’t (chick flicks, documentaries, based on true stories, dramas, Jane Austen, etc. If it doesn’t blow up, he’s not going to want any part of it.) Sometimes adults form mini cliques. It’s just a human thing.

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

This will become easier the older you get. I promise.

Despite what a lot of people say (and I assume they do this to snow themselves and everyone around them), sometimes people have pretty perfect lives. Their houses are big and clean, their cars are nice, their kids are well-behaved, their marriages are great. Don’t let anyone else’s life affect yours. It’s an attitude thing, you get me? If you want a happy life, be happy, and things will work themselves out. You might be thirty years old, living in a condo you’re renting that has mold along some of the windows and an upstairs neighbor who floods your laundry room and entryway. You might really suck at vacuuming and dusting, and you might drive modest cars because that’s what you can afford. Doesn’t mean your life is any less perfect than someone else’s. So applaud the frenemy who started her own blog, the one who got married at a big venue, the one whose husband makes $150k/year. We all need to stick together and help a sister out. It’s cool if their lives are different from yours. Different never means better or worse. Ever.

And remember:

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

Image courtesy of pinterest.com

The Internet is Ruining Our Lives

When I was a senior in college, taking a senior capstone course in the American Studies department of Utah State (not even including a link to it because it’s a joke … American Studies degrees are jokes), we were assigned the final project of a paper and presentation on a good example of contested space. You know, like how white men came on over and took all of the indigenous peoples’ land and then reallocated it to them, like they had the right. So the degree gave me a certain perspective on America. I can’t help it — take a colonial American history class from the perspective of the native people, and you’ll get all the feels, too. Anyhow, things like ANWAR were chosen, and I decided on MySpace.

Image courtesy of underconsideration.com

Image courtesy of underconsideration.com

Because I’m old. I know. MySpace isn’t cool anymore.

At the time, the Am Studies advisor wasn’t particularly pleased with my decision, although she never told me I couldn’t choose such a topic (I was the only one who wrote and presented on anything pop culture related), and I did get a B as my final grade, so I guess I can’t complain too much. But I did find myself remarkably jealous of all the Am Studies students of BYU last semester who were required to write about things occurring in LA, which … my how the times have changed. She wasn’t familiar with MySpace outside of knowing the name and the general idea of it (social networking? Really? That’s not going to last.), which I think added to her distaste for my decision, and it wasn’t till post-college, a couple years ago, when I realized my paper and presentation were actually awesome. Till then, I’d felt kind of like a failure.

Being a secretary not using her college degree may have added to that.

My thesis was simple: social networking will ultimately alter the way society interacts with itself. Now I realize this seems like a big huge “duh,” but remember I was graduating back in 2006, when Facebook was primarily known as that website for high school students, with no News Feed, ads, suggestions, subscriptions, likes, etc. etc. et cetera. At the time, I think a lot of us weren’t totally aware of how much social networking had changed (AOL chat rooms? Do they still exist even?) and how much it would change us.

The sole reason I decided to make a foray into likening social networking to contested space was because I’d found some scriptures at the Institute building, chock full of personal notes, and I thought the person might want them back. There was one lone email address written inside, and I thought even if it didn’t belong to the original owner, perhaps this friend/acquaintance might know to whom they did belong. So I reached out — I explained the situation, and then I waited for a response. And I got one — the guy didn’t know who it belonged to, couldn’t remember even giving out his email address, and then at the end of what I thought was a simple, almost professional correspondence, asked if I was single.

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. For more information on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visit http://www.lds.org

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.org. For more information on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visit http://www.lds.org

Um, dude. What if I am someone’s grandma. I wasn’t, as it turned out, but I was so thrown by this inquiry (something that I imagine most current readers are rolling their eyes at and muttering to themselves, “What is wrong with her? Totally harmless question.”) that I turned it into an entire senior project. Because who asked questions like that? Who was this guy? What would he have done had I responded? (I did not, by the way, because I am not in the business of becoming the topic of the nighttime news.) Where did he come off? It all seemed really peculiar, and I couldn’t help but imagine social networking was partially to blame.

And I still hold pretty firmly to that. We are a voyeuristic species — we want to know what’s going on in other peoples’ lives all the time, even if it turns out to be stupid or mundane or embarrassing (why else does “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” continue airing? Yeah). And what’s worse (and of course I am lumping myself into this group because you’ll probably be hard pressed to find another person who is as addicted to all forms of social networking as I), we’re more than happy to publish it for all the world. Because at the end of the day, despite how creepy we think voyeurism may be, we want to be noticed, to be followed, to be low-level stalked because it makes us feel important/interesting. People want their lives to be witnessed. So we publish all the things and we share it with strangers, and there’s been a huge shift in communication between “Hi, you’re a stranger, I’ll make a little small talk with you” to “Hi, you’re a stranger, and whatever you won’t tell me about yourself I’ll find on the internet, so you may as well tell me now.” We ask questions that would make our grandparents roll over in their graves , we overshare information that still makes our parents cringe.

And it’s continued to (d)evolve. I find myself opening up to acquaintances much earlier on in potential relationships than I would have even three years ago, and it will probably continue to be that way. It just is what it is, and despite probably our lamest efforts to fight it, we lose every time. I’ve always been something of an oversharer, and the internet and social networking have only perpetuated that. It’s a weird place to be, my friends. I want to stop, I don’t.

Thus enters the Internet Chain Letter. You know how these used to be — those lame email forwards your uncle would send out to the whole family that you’d skim and then put in your junk box because you didn’t even want to bother with it. We used to hate chain letters, and yet now it’s almost as if, as a society, we applaud them. We encourage them. And we act like they’re our human right and that we are entitled to share them with everyone. Literally everyone.

Image courtesy of memebase.cheezburger.com

Image courtesy of memebase.cheezburger.com

One of the more recent chain letters — a rant from a single Texas mom to President Obama that went almost immediately viral — spurned so many feelings and thoughts within myself, I almost sat right down at this very blog and responded in kind with my own letter. And suddenly I realized — that simply made me one of them. And under all circumstances, may God forbid that I ever become one of them. So I ranted about it to Husband (bless his heart for listening to me when I share things with him I want to share with the world) and talked it over with a few friends and sort of got it out of my system. I mean, I totally get it — you write something that potentially thousands of people might read, you feel validated and important and right, and frankly I know no one who doesn’t love the exhilarating experience of being right.

And then we sit back and we wonder how cyber-bullying suddenly got so out of hand, how abhorrent people got their own television shows, how we’re walking around every day, way more stressed and frustrated about everything far more than we ever should. We don’t like the President, we do; we don’t like big business, we’re fine with it; we want to save the planet, we think green people are nuts; we want socialized medicine, we think it would ruin the nation; we think veganism is weird, we think it’s the only way we’ll survive. I used to be really politically savvy, and I’m being serious here. When I was in college, I knew all the political things, and I enjoyed keeping up with them. These days, politics of all type make me so upset, I try to pretend like they don’t exist.

So. The internet continues on. Chain letters will remain rampant. Anxiety levels are higher than they’ve ever been. And maybe we need to change that.

Social Interaction: It’s Hard

Just when I think I’ve finally got a hold of social milieus, I am reminded that, in fact, I do not. At all. Rather, I am no good at social interactions when it really boils down to it.

Case in point: I kept getting louder and louder while regaling my friends (one of whom has chronic migraines) with a story in which I had a really lousy social interaction with someone,  Double fail.

There have been two distinct points in my life during which I felt pretty confident I had Asperger’s. The doctors all said no, but there’s still this part of me that thinks they’re all wrong or they’re just trying to save me from yet another label, indicating my brain is less functional than it probably should be. Eye contact does make me pretty uncomfortable. Is all I’m saying.

The thing is, interacting with other human beings is a really hard thing. We’ve all got these weird personalities and then we try to spend time with people who may or may not complement them, and then we decide to become friends with some (for what appears to be no good reason at all because some of my friends are very similar to me and some are extremely opposite and then there are all those in between), and then — this is the real kicker — we decide to get married to one. Or two, three, four. Depending upon how much you like being getting married, I suppose.

This is what I tell people from the get-go: I have a very specific type of personality (this honest-to-goodness makes me think of that monologue from “Taken.” Every time.) We haven’t quite been able to pinpoint what yet, but suffice it to say, it’s riddled with mental disorder (that’s probably an exaggeration, but it sure sounds exciting) and has similarities to Asperger’s (according to me and apparently no one else). Also I’m loud and opinionated and sensitive and struggle with confrontation at all times, under all circumstances. Also, people tend to call me a social butterfly and one even called me gregarious, which naturally led to my becoming his friend because how many twenty-two year olds do you know who A) use the word gregarious and B) know HOW to use it. I feel like there’s a disparity between how people perceive me and how I think I present myself to the world sometimes.

Other times, I am seriously the raddest. Ever.

She Really Wasn’t Good at Math

Hey remember that time I had a flight to Portland leaving Salt Lake City at 6:05, and then I somehow decided that scheduling my ground transportation should result in my arriving at the airport at 5:45?

Yeah so that happened.

I’m not entirely sure why I thought that was a good idea when I used the trip planner on the UTA website, seeing as I’d have to get myself to the terminal from the TRAX stop, check my bag, print a boarding pass, go through security, and then get in line to board. Perhaps that afternoon I was feeling especially ninja.

Image courtesy of blendswap.com

Image courtesy of blendswap.com
Oh look, I was only at 55%.

So I got into the car to drive myself to the Frontrunner stop and suddenly I realized I had a bad, bad plan. But I was in the car and my flight was leaving at 6:05 with or without me, so the only option I had was to drive straight there (which I didn’t even do — seriously I followed the signs and took a rather roundabout route) and park in the economy lot (with money I don’t actually have — hey Husband. You’re looking pretty handsome. Every day of your life).

My best friend told me to consider the positives, namely that I realized my mathematical fallacy before getting on the Frontrunner, and after all, there is never enough money, so I may as well stop being upset about it. For the record, I hate it when she’s right.

Dating. It sucks.

After writing one of my most recent posts about my first ever break-up that occurred when I was about 8 years old, I started thinking about my dating history as a whole. It only took me about ten minutes because prior to meeting Husband, I think I went on about fifteen dates my entire life and had only one other serious relationship, but that’s all moot. Because the first few minutes were undoubtedly colorful and magnificent.

Let’s talk about blind dates for just a minute. Blind dates are probably the dumbest societal creation of all time (no, wait, that might actually be “Jersey Shore”) — you rely on your friends, who are probably either equally as single as you and therefore just as jaded or super married and therefore stuck in the love bubble, making them as distracted as toddlers in Disneyland, to find a suitable mate for you. This is a bad, bad plan. Things that make it worse: relying on college roommates.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com I've never known anyone to have roommates like this.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
I’ve never known anyone to have roommates like this.

So this one time, my three roommates, who were about as opposite as me as other people could be and still maintain similar gender and species, and I came up with this brilliant plan. We’d have a group date (red flag #1 because they were not exactly the types of girls I wanted to spend any sort of evening with) and choose each other’s dates. Brilliant. Nothing could possibly go wrong here. As it turned out, the three of them had men they were either dating or interested in, so the choices were more or less theirs. I, on the other hand, was kind of stumped.

Or maybe I wasn’t — there’s the possibility that one of them asked the guy I wanted and he wasn’t interested/available. I can’t really remember.

And then once we chose each other’s mates, who would probably end up eternal and everlasting, we would also choose each other’s dinners (SO MUCH FUN! SO NOVEL! Utah is weird.) and come back to the apartment to eat and have oodles of fun. Oodles of it.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com I've never known anyone to have a blind date like this either.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
I’ve never known anyone to have a blind date like this either.

I certainly had my reservations about my Utahn roommate, who pronounced the city from where she came “Hurrrr-i-ken” (Hurricane) and had so much Utah accent that my parents had to hold an intervention to get it out of me that following summer, but I figured she knew me well enough that she’d make, at the very least, a mediocre choice. She knew I was from the suburbs of Oregon, she knew I preferred city life, she knew that  I was remarkably extroverted, and she knew I was liberal beyond belief, so there was no way I’d end up with a guy like …

… a fellow in a cowboy hat, wearing Wranglers and cowboy boots, with a tendency to be a slow, slow speaker. Also an introvert.

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com

*SPOILER ALERT: we did not go out again.*

The date was unquestionably one of my most awkward; it didn’t take us very long to realize we were on very opposite ends of all spectrums in regards to everything, and his lack of conversation mixed with my lack of interest carrying on a conversation by myself made for a lot of uncomfortable silence. I don’t even remember his name. But I remember those cowboy boots. They were kind of rad, actually, but he didn’t strike me as the type of guy who wore cowboy boots to be rad.

Let’s Start an End

I’ll just warn you now: This post is going to have a couple instances of slightly harsher swears than you may be accustomed to from me. I’ll be quoting people if that makes you feel better, and it’ll still be PG-13. There will also be some racial slurs thrown in for good measure (again, quoting people, and by now you probably realize this is going to be a serious post).

So. Let’s talk about bullying.

I was neither a bully nor was I particularly bullied when I was growing up. I went through the regular little kid racism in grade school on a pretty daily basis — dumb stuff like, “Your eyes look like this” (cue the infamous stretching of the eyelid corners) or “Your face is flat” or “You look different” (newsflash, kid: we all look different). But since I was raised by excellent parents who helped me adjust to the world in basically every way, I remained pretty unphased.

I mean, I still remember almost all of it.

Like the time in sophomore Biology class and a couple students somehow got onto the topic of hilarious, racist jokes (there were four of us in the group and honest to goodness — I can’t make this up — one was Black and the other was me), and a girl I thought was my friend said, “What do you say to an Asian in the hallway? … I chink I got some gook in my eye!” In case you’re wondering, no, we’re not still friends, and no, I didn’t think that was particularly hilarious because I don’t like jokes that include epithets. Maybe I’m a killjoy.

I have a dear friend who was bullied nearly every single day growing up and retaliated with bullying kids who were just a little more vulnerable. I don’t condone that reaction, but there’s a big part of me that understands where it came from. Because kids — especially the ones raised by mean people — are a force to be reckoned with, and you just can’t escape it.

I have two vivid memories of instances where I was bullied — both by girls, both over stupid reasons. The first was a reaction to my saying she looked like she did her makeup with Skittles — pretty rude, I realize, but for a week or so, her friends would sidle in next to me at the cafeteria and tell me they were going to, at some point, kick the shit out of me. In the end, things were resolved, and I managed to keep all of my shit inside, which is generally my preference.

The second was a reaction to my being — I don’t know, smarter? The TA? Champion of the underdog? — and they informed me, during a peer counseling session (that’s a joke, by the way. Don’t have kids try to fix other kids’ problems.) that they would call me a bitch every time they saw me in the hallway and would even have all their friends and cohorts and family members and gang boyfriends and who knows — the whole damn world? — do the same.

That never actually happened because the assistant principal and I had a lovely chat about what took place. I am nothing if not a strong, resilient girl, and I don’t take no crap from nobody.

But the bullying stopped there, and for the most part, lasted no longer than a week or two. I never found any reason to bully other kids because I was about 4’10” at my tallest in middle school and weighed I think around 85 lbs., plus I was raised by the World’s Nicest Woman who would have shuddered at the thought of my being mean to anyone. I was the kid who would go home, crying to her mother, about other kids getting bullied. I was the kid who encouraged her mother to anonymously purchase coats and longer pants for kids I saw being treated unfairly so maybe — just maybe — the bullies would get off their backs.

In hearing stories from friends who were bullied growing up, I think it’s high time we put an end to it. Close the chapter on bullying and move on to something a whole lot better. Put a stop to mean people raising mean kids, to abusive parents hitting their children, to alcoholics getting pregnant.

Look, I get it — we’re all going to get hurt at some point in our lives. We all will. But that doesn’t mean we have to put that on someone else — that doesn’t ease the pain at all. It just spreads it, like a wildfire, till one day we’ll look around and all we’ll see is miles and miles stretching across the globe of people who are hurt and are hurting and we won’t even recognize our own communities.

This video has gone viral on Youtube, and chances are you’ve seen it posted on friends’ walls and thought to skip it. Well, stop that. It’s a quick seven minutes that will change the way you view bullying and will hopefully continue to spurn change.

Want to learn more? Visit http://tothisdayproject.com/