Monday, April 5, 2010

On teenagers

I was in the supermarket today and saw (in Us Magazine) that a 15-year-old exchange student in Massachusetts killed herself, and now the other students who bullied here are facing criminal charges.

Seeing this headline was like biting into the proverbial madeleine for me, as my own memories of junior high came rushing back, and I suddenly found myself in the place of an unhappy teenager (albeit one with a cart full of groceries).

So, thought the teenager, here are my options. I can continue with life as is, which is intolerable. I can tell the teachers or my parents or the police, who are well-meaning but ultimately unable to prevent my suffering. I can fight back, but there are always more of them than there are of me.

Or, there's a way by which I become famous, everyone will whitewash all the bad information about me,* all the bullies go to jail and are exposed in the national news as the evil little wretches they are, and maybe state legislators will get together to write "[Insert My Name Here]'s Law," and there'll be a movie about me on Lifetime wherein I'm portrayed by a very good looking young Canadian.

If you think the last option doesn't appeal to teenagers, then I recommend you do a study of Mary Sueism, the habit of immature authors to create infinitely powerful, infinitely wonderful author avatar characters… who frequently die heroically.

So what is the lesson to be learned here? The lesson is that there is no answer to bullying, and that teenage victims need to understand what Alexander was trying to teach them many years ago when he told them about his terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

*Yes, some kids do have it coming. Anyone who knew me before 10th grade or so can attest to how insufferable I was.

No comments: