It is a typical Sunday afternoon, and I am reading a friend’s Facebook post about the disdain my friend has about bullying and stereotyping and how it should stop. I was going to repost his remark to my Facebook, but then I thought about it more in depth. Isn’t bullying and stereotyping just part of human nature?
Before I go any further, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not endorsing stereotypes or bullying of any kind and if it ever gets to a point of physical or emotional torment, it should stop immediately. However, over the last few months, I have seen on the Internet and on several television networks promoting campaigns such as “Eliminate Hate” to stop bullying and harassment. I find this completely naïve.
I feel this way because bullying and stereotyping are both part of human nature, and that is probably never going to change. Think about when one sees an obviously physically attractive woman who looks like she should be on the cover of Maxim magazine. Chances are that nine out of 10 people are going to assume she’s either extremely self centered and vain or she isn’t that intelligent. Almost no one would assume that she speaks five different languages fluently, writes and develops for Android smart-phones and rides and owns horses.
People jump to conclusions because the human mind relates to things by associating new occurrences with past experiences. In the case of people, if one sees a pattern or certain traits in a group of people, the human mind makes assumptions. Whether these are correct or valid is almost irrelevant.
We all have been there. Think back to a time when you met someone new. Within the first minute of meeting them, did you make some type of assumption that could be construed into a minor stereotype? I’d be very surprised to hear one person say they have never stereotyped anyone in their lifetime.
Bullying exist to make people feel superior to other people, whether that be through intelligence, wealth, physical attractiveness or physical ability.
These things are not good, but I have read many autobiographies and interviews on singers, inventors, actors and athletes. The one thing that is constant throughout most of these famous people’s lives is how much bullying and stereotyping they had to overcome to get where they are now.
Looking at popular culture, many of the things that young people and adults connected to specifically from the ‘80s and ‘90s, like John Hughes’ film “The Breakfast Club” and Joss Whedon’s television series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” were about people who fit in stereotypical roles or who were bullied and how these people rose above that to be something more.
This is what should be taught and shown in media. Not to stop bullying and stereotyping, since those have existed since the beginning of time, but to teach people that you can rise above stereotypes and bullying to be something more.