Go kill yourself.
It’s hard to believe, but these things are being said and heard, texted and read, posted and seen every day in our communities. I’ve seen and heard it myself. Everyday – and not just online – in malls, on the streets and in school.
You cannot just go around saying these things so loosely about people and expect that people will hear those words and think that they are JUST WORDS. I’ll tell you something – I’m a big fan of words – I believe that they are powerful. What I know for sure, is that this is true – for better and for worse. Words have the power to wound and heal, to knock down and build up, to inspire and discourage.
Sometimes people think that because they’re your friend or you know the person, they’ll take it as a joke and laugh with you. But (1) they don’t always take it that way – you don’t get to decide how your words are taken in. (2) The people overhearing it don’t always take it that way – again, you don’t have control over this. And (3) most importantly, why would you even say these kinds of things at all?
It’s not “teasing” or funny. The wrong words affect people’s mental health. Because when you call someone “gay” – as in “you’re so gay” – you’re saying that being gay is a bad thing. This is one of the reasons that sometimes people are afraid of coming out and being comfortable with who they are. I’m in Grade 8 and my peers and I are still figuring out our identity and who we are. So when people say that, it has the potential to drop our self esteem down, not just a few notches, but a lot. The same goes for every one of those names that I listed above and also the ones that I didn’t list – there are many more offensive terms like these that I would rather not repeat.
Another one of the terms used often is “retarded”. This one upsets me a lot. People say this to others when someone is “inadequate and not functioning right”. Not only is this offensive to the person that you are talking to, but you are also offending every person that has a mental or physical disability. You are demeaning and belittling them and saying that they are useless or not worthy. Stop it.
We need to do something. Youth’s self esteem is plummeting fast because of these kinds of derogatory terms, which is stopping us from reaching our fullest potential and being confident in who we are and comfortable where we are.
I always say that social media is a wonderful place. And it is. It’s a place where we can use our voice, share what we’re passionate about and connect with other like-minded people. But for many, social media is dark and scary. These words that I’m talking about don’t only come out in school and our communities face-to-face, it also happens on social media and our online community. It used to be that when people got bullied, they could just go home, hang out with friends or family and not have to worry about it after school. Home was their escape. It was safe. But for most of us of my generation, we don’t have an escape. Because people say these things on social media directly to or about us. They take it to their screens. Those words, posts and texts are there on our phones from the time when we wake up in the morning to the time we go to sleep. Even when we sleep.
If there is one thing that I have learned over these last few years, it’s not to present a problem without also presenting steps toward a solution. So please hear me. Instead of creating a culture of hate and indifference, let’s create a different one full of positivity and kindness. We can do this on and off-line.
If you’re saying these things:
Just stop it. Don’t say it. It’s as simple as that. These words bother me so much. They are such stupid things to say and there is no time or place where it is appropriate to say these things. Why would you tell someone to go kill themselves? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not cool to say, it’s not a funny thing to say, so just don’t say it.
If you’re hearing these things:
Do something. Don’t just stand by and watch someone being affected by this. Tell the person saying it that it is not okay and ask them if they know what these words really mean. If you just stand around not saying anything, you are implying that it is okay to say this. You’re giving permission. If you cannot stand UP to and speak out, don’t stand WITH them. If are too nervous to say anything, just walk away. It seems like something so small, but it makes a statement that you are not okay with this. After, go up to the person they were telling this to and let them know that you know that this is not okay and you are here for them. The same goes for social media. Do not like someone’s post or photo that is inappropriate or making fun of someone. When you do give it a like, you are endorsing it, which is NOT okay either.
If you are the person that these words are directed at:
Stand up for yourself or tell someone. Similar to the bystander solution, tell them how you feel and this is an inappropriate thing to say to anyone. I know that it is hard to stand up and speak out, especially if they have a lot of friends, but there are more ways to handle this. You can talk to someone you trust. A parent, a friend, a coach, a teacher, someone that will listen. If you don’t tell someone, the issue will never be resolved.
Check out how my friend and actress Lily Collins stood up to her date who was using derogatory terms:
All of these actions seem small and may seen that they can’t change the world, but it creates a ripple effect that spreads EVERYWHERE. Because you never know, maybe your words, actions and texts will not only inspire it to stop, but it will also motivate others to not be a bystander and pay it forward and bring us that much closer to the world that we want to live in.
We all have a voice and a choice. Choose wisely.