Although cyberbullying is more prevalent than bullying in my current high school, bullying is a continuing issue in most American high schools. Before I transferred to my current high school in the middle of freshman year, I attended a school that was very similar to the one in “Mean Girls” in New York City’s Upper East Side. The vibe was very different from the one I experienced at my middle school, where the majority of kids got along flawlessly. As a 13 year-old, I was not prepared to be made fun of for my red hair, or have a hard time making friends because I did not smoke, drink, or go out clubbing with fake IDs. The isolation was crippling, and after a long Department of Education process, I was allowed to return to the high school associated with my middle school.
Coming back, it felt so great to have friends and to be around people who did not comfort their insecurities by creating insecurities for others. I got along with people without a hitch, but as time progressed, the use of anonymous applications such as the “Honesty Box” on Facebook and the popular social network Formspring facilitated an increase in bullying by peers. While I thought people were genuinely nice and friendly, I found out through anonymous sources that many people disliked each other, or disliked me, much more than I could even believe. I never even signed up for a Formspring but still received anonymous hate through one of my friend’s accounts.
I asked a Junior at my school, Micaela, what she thought about bullying. She described how devastating it can be and explained that she honestly believes “bullying is inevitable” because of its vicious cycle. She had a Formspring account knowing “that people would write things that I wouldn’t want to hear. When you make yourself accessible to be targeted, people will just jump on the chance to attack you.” The increased access to anonymous tools explained a drastic change in the dynamic of my school. Once a happy and friendly high school had turned into a vicious network of online hate.
I spoke with Micaela about Lady Gaga and her message of love and anti-bullying. At first, Micaela thought that Gaga could “help to spread the word that bullying is bad because she is very open minded and accepting of all types of people. However, [Micaela didn’t] think that she would ultimately be able to solve the problem. Gaga can only put a ‘band aid’ over it.”
Together, we looked at Lady Gaga’s Born this Way Foundation website and read her mission statement, “This way, towards bravery, where youth are empowered. This way, towards an acceptance where humanity is embraced. This way, towards love where individuality is encouraged.” Lady Gaga wants to “create a kinder and braver world.” We both were aware of Lady Gaga’s message of love and acceptance, especially for the advancement of Gay Rights, but we were surprised at how relevant Gaga’s mission was to bullying today. Her message is not at all removed from the situation, like those opinions of many “experts” on bullying. It was interesting to learn that Gaga had been bullied herself in High School. We concluded this very bullying explains why her message is so clear, acceptable, and appropriate.
After reviewing Lady Gaga’s mission and website for the Born This Way Foundation, Micaela’s and my belief in Gaga’s ability to combat bullying changed. Micaela summed it up best, “Our own global diversity is why we need a message like Gaga’s so greatly. People still find a hard time accepting others, and Gaga might have a chance to help ease the public reluctance to accept what is different.”
Editor’s note: This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which Natalie will be covering live tomorrow from Cambridge. Natalie won the competition for aspiring High School journalists, receiving over 700 mics on her debate!