Tim Timmons | Crawfordsville, IN

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May 7, 2021

2/8/2014 3:41:00 PM
When did we give away control? Bullying isn't complicated

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Folks of a certain age probably remember that grade school chant. Usually came after a kid or a group of kids were taunting, calling names. Mom's taught us to use that phrase to defend ourselves. Dad's taught us not to throw the first punch. Between the two, it was pretty good advice.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me?
When did it change?
When did we give power to those who don't deserve it? If someone is being a jerk, and I truly don't care if they're 8, 18 or 58, if someone is calling names, saying things that aren't true, being mean . . . when did we give them the power to impact our lives? If someone calls me fat, ugly and stupid, why should I care? (Careful!) Why should their rudeness, their insensitivity, their arrogance, their ignorance be of any concern to me?
When did it change?
In today's world, if someone says something inappropriate it has become a big deal. If they offend others, it's a big deal. If they say something hurtful, it's a big deal.
Look, I work with words for a living. I truly understand that words can be most powerful. But I also understand that if words are ignored, the impact is absolutely zero.
Somewhere in the last half century or so, we've become a society that gets our feelings hurt too easily. We've given power of our own lives to others who don't deserve it. In this maddening world where things have to be politically correct, we've crossed a line way, way too far and now let things bother us that our grandparents would've handled with a tsk, tsk and a sad shake of the head . . . right before they walked away.
The easy answer is to tell those who get offended so easily to toughen up. The harder answer is what to tell a kid who's on the receiving end of a social media barrage. Those of us a certain age never knew the full wrath of a Twitter or Facebook hate spree.
Boil it all down though and they are still just words. By acknowledging the words, we give them power.
How do we as a society, as a country, survive when we no longer can get past name calling? More importantly, what about when we're no longer the toughest kid on the block? I'm not a, what are they called now, doomsday prepper? But we've done pretty well as a country for more than 200 years by being resilient, by being smart and by being tough.
So when did "tough" get traded for "offended?"
There isn't one answer for this, usually isn't for complex problems. And I'm just a dumb newspaper guy who isn't around kids on a daily basis anymore. Just seems like allowing words to offend isn't in our best interest. Maybe it's harder today than it was 50, 20 or even 10 years ago. But the answer might be as simple as an old children's rhyme, sticks and stones . . .

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