Essay Non-Fiction posted March 8, 2016 Chapters:  ...6 7 -8- 9... 


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contest entry, nonfiction

A chapter in the book Essays, Vol. 2

Provoking Suicide, Or Worse

by Ideasaregems-Dawn


I’ll begin with something everyone who belongs to this site can identify with—reviews.
 
It's been discussed ad nauseam, but here's the thing--it bears repeating. All the cute platitudes about 'growing a thick skin if one wants to be a writer' don't mean anything to some of the members on this site--they're not here to become some best-selling novelist, and if you have any conscience at all you will guard your words. I am talking about some senior citizens who’ve paid life’s dues and now just want to express themselves and perhaps enjoy the social intercourse found on a website they believe to be safe.
 
Even those who are trying to achieve some sort of recognition as a writer need and deserve to have any effort treated with respect, regardless of any personal opinion, or so-called 'expert evaluation'. This is a topic near and dear to me, and you’ll read why soon. But this year, it’s been pretty important to many members--there were a number of FanStory folks who banded together to speak out about other members who attacked their work. Those others get away with it far too often because if it is not a personal attack against the writer, the writer is not allowed to defend his or her work, regardless of the fact that those attacks have no basis in fact, and are made to fit a personal agenda. Bullying disguised as a review.
 
I actually 'met' a young woman here who wrote about suicide, and she was writing from the heart--her heart. I don't know what happened to her. I only know I never encountered anything written by her again, and a fan-friend mentioned just the other day that she 'heard' one of our members committed suicide.
 
Sounds like the stuff of urban legend? You'd be surprised just how common suicide actually is, especially among sensitive, artistic temperaments. Here are just a few examples, but check Wikipedia--you'll find that list is alphabetized, there are so many.
 
Ernest Hemingway - "For Whom The Bell Tolls"
Sylvia Plath - "The Bell Jar"
John Kennedy Toole - "A Confederacy of Dunces"
 
The first two are probably more well-known suicides than the last one, so let me give you a little background on John Kennedy Toole; he could have been one of our members. His manuscript was rejected by reputable publisher, Simon & Schuster. It wasn't 'plot-driven' enough, they said. He took it hard. So hard he hooked a garden hose up to the exhaust of his vehicle, climbed in, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning. His mother, several years later, convinced novelist Walter Percy to read it. It knocked his socks off, and being a famous writer, Mr. Percy used his influence to have "A Confederacy of Dunces" published.
 
It won the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction--'a comic masterpiece'.
 
We are all MEMBERS. Is the site a public one? Of course it is, but allegedly with a common interest--WRITING. Shouldn't that very fact differentiate us from the general public? No one can know what goes on in the mind of another, what trials that individual might be facing in life, and if nowhere else, this site should be a place for safely releasing pain, for dreaming, for creating a world of imagination. That simple act might be all the person behind our screens has to make life worth living.
 
So, I've had my tantrum specific to FanStory. Good taste prevents me from saying what I've said in the way I'd really like to say it...I WILL say this: social media has created a whole new kind of bully.
 
But moving on, think of it this way—your kid is the one on the wrong end of a cyber bully. What would you do to protect him or her?
 
The statistics collected on cyber-bullying for 2016 are frankly astonishing. The year isn’t even over yet. Now maybe the print is too small for the reader (you) to see it, so I’ll tell you—the graph I have used as the picture for this article shows the percentage of those bullied who commit suicide. That’s the purple one, folks, and the numbers are staggering. Those stats are only for Canada. Here’s a link that will take you to American statistics – www.statisticsbrain.com/cyber-bullying-statistics/.
 
Not all bullying is cyber bullying of course, but these days, it’s the most common form. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police define bullying as a situation in which “someone purposely and repeatedly says or does hurtful things to someone else.”
 
I actually experienced it when I first started using the internet. I’d sworn I would never go online, that my friends would have to pry my electric typewriter out of my hands by force, but publishers, editors—everyone uses email these days to conduct business. I didn’t have a choice, and that’s when I stumbled upon this site—it’s here that it happened to me. Not on this actual site—that would have been easy to stop by reporting it to management. But the perpetrator used connections from here to send hateful emails to me for months, and even sent out a personal letter to many FanStory members which, thankfully, most ignored or chose to see for what it was. I even had my work cut and pasted and sent to me in those emails as proof that muting was useless. Bullies often have an entourage who are happy to carry out favours—after all, better to keep the bully happy or you might find yourself the next victim.
 
I mention this only to illustrate just how easily it can happen, and to whom—in this article, the author points out it isn’t just children bombarded with hate: No Bullying.com. It’s well worth the read. Who knows? It might even save a life.

But not all bullying results in suicide--the film, 'Nineteen Minutes', is based on a book by the same title.  Best-selling author, Jodi Picoult, wrote it to illustrate just what can happen when we set out to provoke someone...

You could save more than one life. So if you are the bully, I guess one could say you'd best hope the people you bully are passive and reasonably stable-minded...

No one really knows anyone.

~~~1,040 words


Non-Fiction Writing Contest contest entry

Recognized


Videos courtesy of YouTube. The first one begins with the author of the book upon which this riveting film is based, Jodi Picoult, narrating. She has said she's been on the receiving end of 'hurtful' reviews too... "Nineteen Minutes" was the New York Times #1 bestseller when it was released. She is the author of 23 novels in as many years, and she is one of my all-time favorite writers. The second video is Jodi's promo video for the book. I included it because this is, after all, a writing site - what can it hurt to know how to put a promotional video together? *smile*


Another famous writer who took her own life is Virginia Woolf (author of "Mrs. Dalloway"). If you haven't seen the movie based on her life story, here's a preview:
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