Adults are setting a bad example on bullying

Published 9:18 am Monday, November 1, 2010

Julie Seedorf, Something About Nothing

When I started writing this column a few years ago I named it “Something About Nothing” because I was tired of all of the bad news and bad headlines that bombard us day after day. I wanted to do something silly, frivolous, meaningless and meaningful. I wanted to lighten people’s burdens and possibly help us all see that there is still a child in us wanting to have fun and that it is good to bring that inner child out and enjoy life.

Julie Seedorf

Occasionally, I need to touch on a few serious subjects. This week I have been thinking a lot about the controversy surrounding bullying and the attention it is attracting.

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I usually stay away from controversial subjects. I thought long and hard on my reasoning for this. Yes, I get tired of turning on the news and picking up the newspaper or a magazine and feeling worse after I have listened to the radio or read the newspaper. I want to scream “Enough!” and just read and hear about fluff. Someone else can take care of the controversial subjects or report on murders and deaths and the doom of our country.

My main focus is to have fun with what I write and make people smile. But if I am honest, one of the other reasons I try and keep it light is that I have a hard time dealing with the nasty feedback or attacks that are associated with stating an unpopular viewpoint. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. So I did. I can handle people disagreeing with me in a respectful manner, but many of us have a problem with agreeing to disagree. We always have to be right and our methods of getting the point across are attack and kill with words.

I have noticed I try to be careful with what I say because I don’t want to make people angry. I want to be liked. How realistic is that? We can’t be liked by everyone. I happen to think it is a human trait and many of us tone down what we do and say. We become someone we aren’t because we want someone to like us. To do that, we follow the crowd because it is safer.

I have realized that writing for me is like breathing. I need to write because I love to write, and because of that I need to cast aside that fear and take a little step into the kitchen.

Back to the subject of bullying, which led me to my analysis. I very seldom listen to television commercials. I very seldom watch programmed TV. I record what I want to watch. Part of the reason I record my TV is that I don’t have to watch commercials. Recently I watched a show on bullying and the teens who have committed suicide because of it. That evening I happened to be watching live TV and caught some of the candidate’s commercials for the election this year.

The thought crossed my mind: Why should our children listen to any of us about how to treat others when those we are thinking of electing trash each other in their ads? Why should any of our teenagers listen to anything we have to say when we crucify someone for stating their opinion in a newspaper or at a meeting? Why should any of our teenagers listen to anything we have to say when we aren’t living what we are preaching?

Perhaps adult bullying is not the same as what is happening in our schools and on Facebook and other social networking sites. But it is there in subtle ways. We backstab our co-workers. We are having lunch with friends and another adult walks by and says hello. Someone in your group says “You say hi to them?” in a nasty and sarcastic tone so the person that walked by could hear and be intimidated.

We treat servers and clerks with disdain or disrespect when they are waiting on us. We call someone a name or worse when someone irritates us as we are driving on our roads. Is road rage bullying? I am sure there are many more examples.

Bullying is a serious problem. I have heard the comments “I was bullied in school and I survived.” But did you? The fact that we remember the incidents that caused us pain tells me that we didn’t survive unscathed. We just survived and didn’t take our sadness to the next level. It is different today. We could go home and hide out and not be inundated and talked about on the internet so the whole world could join in. We didn’t have a venue for videos that could record the bullying and post it to the entire world. Would we have survived as well as we did if that had been the case in earlier years? And if we watch those videos we are not any better than the person doing the bullying.

That takes me back to the elections. Politicians everywhere are decrying bullying. However, many politicians need to take a look at what they are doing in their campaigns and what they are teaching our children and our teenagers. It is time they are part of the solution and stop these attack ads. Agree to disagree and stick to the facts and teach our young people that it is not right to attack another person verbally or physically. I absolutely would like to know how the politicians and special interest groups that launch these ads justify their attack ads to their children.

As adults we seem to be telling our young people to do as I say and not as I do. Like Dr. Phil says “How is that working for you?”

We can tell schools and teachers they have to take a stand. We can blame the internet. We can blame society but society is us.

Our children are making the choice that life is not worth living because of the way they are treated. I don’t care if a child is red, pink, purple, black or white. I don’t care if a child is gay. Each one of those children or teenagers is a human being with feelings just like you and I. That should matter to each one of us.

I will reference my last week’s column. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with us.

I’ve set foot in the kitchen. I hope I don’t get burned.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at Her blog is Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”