Thursday, June 27, 2019

Y-Speak: When bystanders become bullies

IT WASN’T long ago when a bullying video involving Ateneo de Manila junior high school students went viral.

The video showed a short boy identified as Joaquin Montes bullying another student in the male restroom.

“Bugbog o dignidad?” he asked. The victim chose his dignity.

After the video came out, thousands of people are now shaming Joaquin online. The tide has turned. The bully is now the victim.

I am not going to lie, my blood boiled in anger as Joaquin beat the innocent student. Not only was Joaquin fortunate to study in a prestigious school, he was also a black belter in taekwondo. I smirked at the harsh comments degrading the boy and his family. I laughed at memes making fun of his height.

My laughter soon ended when I saw a post, allegedly from Joaquin's Facebook page, asking people to stop threatening him. He said he was sorry yet people continued commenting that he deserved the online bashing. One of his posts included a hashtag stating that he was becoming suicidal.

Looking back at the video, I question how it all happened. How come the other students in the restroom are just watching the bullying take place?

According to Judith Monroe Peterson’s book “How to Beat Cyberbullying,” bystanders witness the bullying and do not take any action to help the victim. By their inaction, they give their approval for the bully to continue his/her improper action.

In the video, the bystanders merely watched as Joaquin dealt the first blow. They stared as he kicked the victim multiple times. They just looked as blood dripped down the boy’s face. They saw. They did nothing.

These realizations brought a question to mind. Are we not turning into bystanders and bullies ourselves? By laughing at his demise or by threatening Joaquin, we think that we are exacting the punishment that he deserved. As much as we want justice to be served, we are not the justice system. The harsh comments, memes, and threats are only going to push the boy closer and closer to committing suicide.

In this era, our voices are getting more and more powerful. With the click of the button, we can shame a person. With a tap on our phones, we can unveil the truth to billions of people. What we do not realize, however, is that this power is turning us into the same bullies that we so humiliate Joaquin Montes. We are turning into monsters hidden under the veil of anonymity that is social media. (Jamrell Vincette Buynay/ Ateneo de Davao University Mass Communication student)


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