Lately I can’t seem to escape seeing, hearing, or reading what people have to say about the Netflix original, 13 Reasons Why. I’m looking forward to the hype finally dying down (as it always inevitably does), but in the meantime, I’d like to weigh in.
Most people seem to have one of two popular opinions when it comes to 13 Reasons Why: either they love the show because it “brings to light how serious bullying is and why we need to stop it,” or they hate the show because it encourages kids to think about trying suicide. I disagree with both points of view.
Let’s start with the first one.
Bullying has become a hot topic these last few years. I read the news, and I know there are some extreme cases of violence that have taken place in middle schools and high schools across the country. That is not bullying; that is assault.
Bullying (not to be confused with physical abuse or violence) happens on every playground, at every school, in every town, and this is nothing new. Kids have been making fun of each other probably for as long as humans have walked the earth. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but some things are just human nature.
Today’s generation of middle- and high-schoolers need to learn to get over being made fun of. Much worse things can (and do) happen after the 12th grade. Killing yourself because of the things somebody said to you is the very definition of overreacting, and my heart breaks for the families who lose their children over such a dramatic response to something so insignificant.
I had a teacher in elementary school and I wish more people would take a page out of his book. Anytime a kid in my class would complain to the teacher about somebody being a bully– i.e., “Mr. James, Brian called me an idiot,”– Mr. James would turn to the child and say, “Why does it matter what Brian says? People can say anything, but that doesn’t mean they’re right.” (And yes, obviously he would also speak to Brian and tell him to stop calling people idiots.) . But teaching kids to ignore or get over other people’s negativity is something today’s parents and teachers don’t seem to be doing enough of, and that’s the bigger issue. People (both children and many adults) really need to grow a thicker skin. There are much more serious things to spend your time worrying about than what somebody has to say about you, especially if that somebody is nothing more than a high school student.
And that’s essentially why I won’t watch 13 Reasons Why.
I refuse to sympathize with a character who wants to play the victim over some mean shit somebody said to them and then point the finger at the bully (a word I’m really getting sick of both hearing and now saying) as if they physically murdered this “victim.” Just stop.
I’m obviously not encouraging people to go out and say nasty things to each other, but anyone with half a brain knows that that’s just going to happen one way or another anyway. I’m encouraging people to learn how to get over it or simply to not give a fuck to begin with when someone says something bad about them.
…All of this writing and I didn’t even address the second opinion on this show with which I don’t agree: the show should be cancelled because it “encourages children to kill themselves” or “it glamorizes suicide.” Again, please stop.
We all need to learn to expect a little more maturity out of teenagers if we ever expect them to be successful adults. Not to mention the fact that Netflix is a service people pay for, and nobody is forcing anyone else to watch Netflix. You don’t have to like or agree with the content Netflix offers, but that doesn’t give you the right to decide whether or not other people should watch it.
I guess the message I’m trying to convey, if you had to boil it down to just a few words, is everybody needs to just calm down and get over themselves.