Fanatic Cinematic: A reaction to the (in)famous ‘Cyberbully’

Movie columnist Alex Leininger on how preventing online catastrophes can be as simple as being a decent human being

Let it be known that I wasn’t always the ridiculously cool, super endearing and infinitely humble person I am today.

I was once way too hyper, way too eager and way too into Pokémon. I’ve written about being at peace with your past embarrassments before, and although it’s been relatively simple for me to accept my flaws, I’ve realized that it may not be so simple for everyone.

Luckily for me, I was never really bullied, either in person or online.

Cyberbullying is an unfortunate trend of the new millennium, proposing questions about what can legally be considered bullying and about online etiquette in general. Now, since I’ve just watched ABC Family’s TV film “Cyberbully,” I’m pretty much an expert on the subject.

In general, here’s a good tip for whenever you’re feeling extra down: Think about the most incredible person you know (which shouldn’t be hard since you’re already reading his column) and picture their childhood. What do you think it was like?

Reasonably, do you think anyone was cool immediately following birth? Was anyone ejected from the womb with sunglasses and a Prada diaper? Did any infant in recent memory get “Baby’s First Swag Set” for Christmas, complete with all the necessary tools for becoming king of the preschool b-ball court?

Maybe. But I sure didn’t, and you probably didn’t either.

Of course, most of us know that none of that matters, and that we’re rad just the way we are, “cool” or not. But for those of you that are still confused, I’ve made a quick “how to be a decent human being” guide.

How not to act: Are you seeing all of these people? How dare they enjoy their own individual interests and hobbies! We must all be uniform in every way, riding the assembly line of life until we come out on the other side prim, proper and socially acceptable. Frankly, it looks like some of you got off too early.

Sometimes, I’m so appalled and frightened by the blinding light of individuality that I just have to share it with all social media. On Facebook, I posted pictures of Allison shooting milk out of her nose during lunch, and got 14 likes on one of them. Fourteen! I then moved on to Twitter: “Mark’s hair actually offends me because it’s so gross. #lol #dandruffparty.”

I can’t let people that aren’t exactly like me just get away with doing that, you know?

A better way to act: I see you over there, with your smug grin and raised eyebrows, all proud because you “passed your midterm” and “have reasonable hope for not becoming homeless directly after graduation like the rest of us.” And you know what? I’m proud of you. You studied really hard and deserve success just as much as anyone else.

And you, on the other side of the road! I can hear “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” bursting out of your gold-plated, limited-edition Beats, and we need to set something straight. What you’re doing is not acceptable. I forgot my iPod today, and your little jam session is making me really jealous. I was planning on basking in Ylvis’ eternal glory in between class today, too.

We’ve heard all of this “you’re fine just the way you are” rhetoric before. Many, many times. We’ve drilled it into our heads like answers before a test and, unfortunately, forgotten a lot of it as though we’re never going to use it again.

It can be tough to accept differences in a society that portrays certain things as “normal” and other things as “abnormal,” and nobody should be claiming to be wholly judge-free.

If you like hot temperatures better than cold ones, cake better than pie or dogs better than cats, I’ll probably be inclined to judge you just a little bit. But I’m not going to start some online World War III out of anger.

In the end, I promise that we can still be friends, because — brace yourselves — it’s this simple: I’ll get over it.

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