To anyone and everyone:
"We are the future."
This is what me and my peers have been hearing for years now. How our generation is one with the potential for great change, accomplishment and ideas. The concept is exciting and scary at the same time - however, now I'm not so sure.
The recent suicide of Amanda Todd has left me speechless and moved.
While I don't claim to have known her well, our childhood paths crossed briefly and our families are familiar with each other.
When I saw her video on YouTube, I could hardly believe that this was the young girl my small self swam with at a pool in Port Coquitlam back in my childhood. So much hurt, so much embarrassment, so much outright hatred towards this girl. And for what? A photograph? Some poor split-second decision-making? We are all humans, and we all do things we wish we could have thought twice about.
When the community lost a brave and beautiful young girl, we also saw the large cracks in our society become blatantly obvious. I felt sick to my stomach as I saw hate groups and cruel, taunting posts continue to come through on the Internet after Amanda had killed herself.
To me, this was the most frightening thing. For someone to have the nerve to post photos mocking Amanda and her struggles and statuses expressing their enjoyment and pleasure at her ending her life made me embarrassed by my peers and the human race on a large scale. Where does this type of hatred stem from? I certainly can't fathom ever being that cold-hearted.
With so much negativity coming from these people, I can't help but think that these traits must be learned, or at least not reprimanded. Do their parents know what their children have been doing on their computer these past several days?
Now, I've begun to fear for not only my future, but the future of my potential family. If I am surrounded by people who get sheer enjoyment out of hurting others, imagine what the world will be like when they run businesses and organizations, or when they have kids of their own and proceed to raise them in a household full of this hate. The cycle can't end unless we stop it, and it seems to be spiralling out of control.
For some, Amanda's agonizing story has been a wake-up call as they realize that they have the capacity to stop judging and make loving an instinct, not hating. Other people may have found strength in her video and realized they are not alone, and that many people out there are willing to listen to them and help them reach a sense of self acceptance. Unfortunately, it is obvious that some people took this as an opportunity to make fun of and ridicule someone who had already had enough ridiculing in her life to convince her it was no longer worth living.
I don't know what the cure for this disease is, and I'm not sure if we'll ever find one. But what can we do to try?
Say hi to someone you don't usually talk to. Smile more. Don't be afraid to give a stranger a compliment. Create conversation based on ideas and thoughts, not off of the judgment of another person. Learn the full story before you make assumptions. Concentrate on positivity in your life, and try to flush out the negativity. As for the bullies continuing to hide behind a computer screen - clearly, you all have some thinking to do as well.
Most likely, you need a friend just like Amanda did. We are all much more similar than we think.
Let's make Amanda's story stay Amanda's story, and not anyone else's.
Michaela Slinger Grade 12 Student Heritage Woods Secondary Port Moody