Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Eighth Grade Cyber-Balderdash

Well, it finally happened.  Elizabeth has been attending school for 10 years including pre-K and this is the first time we’ve encountered cyber-bullying that is intense enough to get us involved.  It happened on Formspring, which for 8th graders is like glazed donuts to a diabetic; irresistible but deadly.  Formspring isn’t like Facebook.  On Formspring, anyone can leave anonymous posts unless you've tweaked your account to prevent it (and most folks don’t know it’s possible).  On Facebook, everyone knows who you are, so haters leave major insults at their own risk, which means, most of the time they don’t bother.

I was first introduced to Formspring by a high school age student we know in Connecticut.  She is a Facebook friend who posts links to her Formspring dialogue regularly.   It is disturbing.  Boys ask for a blow job, and she LOL’s.  Girls call her slut, whore, and douchebag, and she LOL’s that, too.  We mentioned what was going on to her mother and haven’t heard from her mom since. I guess when she said, “Let me know what’s happening online”, she didn’t really mean it.
Formspring Sucks!
Elizabeth is attending 8th grade in a school that is 85 percent Asian.  So, on top of the usual 8th grade dramatics, she takes considerable flack for being white.  Ironically, she NEVER takes any abuse for having two moms.  She’s been accused of trying to act Asian, dress Asian, and taking Asian boys away from Asian girls.  This is a lame insult, if you know Elizabeth.  She is extremely sensitive to any kind of racism, and doesn’t hesitate to get in our faces if even remotely Archie Bunker-like words slip from our lips.  Have you ever been lectured by a 13 year old?

Last night, someone posted a verbal assault on Elizabeth's Formspring profile. By 8th grade standards, it was epic. Elizabeth discovered it just before climbing into bed, and she was devastated.   The hater covered her breasts, her body type, her sense of humor (how she paints a mustache on her finger and holds it under her nose), her standards of friendship, personality, and then capped on her for hanging out with another group of kids who reported hate her now, too.  Of course, she was also accused, once again, of wanting to be and acting like ... yes, you guessed it, an Asian.

Leslie and I went to bed upset.  Eighth grade is hard enough.  The teachers are mean as hell, as if being so was a prerequisite to teaching.  The ones that aren’t mean are lazy.  And a goodly number of them take any opportunity to yell at and insult classroom students.  Hey folks, we realize this hasn’t been a banner year for State of California education, but what made you decide to leave your maturity at the door?  Many of these individuals seem to forget that teaching is more than a job.   Remember, these are the teachers who’ve kept their position when so many others are let go, implying they have tenure or are the cream of the crop.  You would think so, anyhow.

Leslie and I slept on it, and we started our morning as usual.  Despite being recently laid off, I get up early, which is what they say avoids the gaping maw of unemployment depression.  Elizabeth was quiet.  She had to be at school 45 minutes early for detention because she was off sick on Friday, and didn’t get her political cartoon assignment.  Whatever.   See what I’m saying about mean? 

Well, we are certain we know who the hater is.  This girl, an Asian girl, hung out with Elizabeth for two years before blossoming (and bludgeoning) hormones and other girly shit split them up.  My guess is that when they split, Elizabeth was supposed to go crawling back, and one might say she did the first time they had a problem.  She opted to be the bigger person and broke the ice.  The second time, however, Elizabeth had enough, opted in favor of her self-esteem, and found new friends.

I am personally very familiar with this hater’s M.O.  I was the buck-toothed, red-head fifth grader who got her ass kicked regularly after school.  Girls in 7th grade handed me notes about how ugly I was and how I smelled bad.  I had a girlfriend in school, and she did the same thing to me.  She had an expectation of my behavior when we argued and when I didn’t comply, she let me have it.  I know all about it, but I didn’t have supportive parents backing me up.

Elizabeth does have supportive parents, and when I spoke to the school principal today he was very concerned.  We’re going to deal with this assertively.

It’s not okay for anyone to pick on our little girl.

Watch out, haters.


tmattson said...

You go get 'em, Mama! I don't even want to get started on the teachers, because as a former teacher myself, I know all about the crap that goes in there. Just because you have a license doesn't mean you can teach. And it most certainly does not mean you are the cream of the crop.

Take no prisoners when it comes to your baby.

D said...

I am SO glad there was no internet or social networking when I was a kid.
This must be majorly rough.
When we went home from school, socialization ended until the next day. Nowadays, socialization is probably just beginning when they go home and sign online.


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