Netflix's breakout 13 Reasons Why left an indelible mark on the entire world, pushing the internet to break into conversations on one subject that has haunted generations of students. The series carved itself beautifully during the course of the season - emphasising matters of physical abuse, cyber mockery and body shaming, which run their course in today's day and age.
Yet, somehow, the situation remains cloaked, like someone turned on the "camouflage" feature in our eyes, which can - perhaps - hoodwink even the mighty professor Severus Snape of Harry Potter fame.
As prodigal sons and daughters of the internet, we have — on numerous occasions — been a witness to the "bullying" concept and how it drives our protagonist to break down. But, it is remarkable when one ponders over why this great nation of ours never caught fire over the concept, which, for years, has gone beyond the proverbial notion of "boys will be boys".
We have never invaded a country in all our years of glory and sustenance, but we are strategic masterminds when it comes to thrusting someone into an abyss of hopelessness and existential crisis.
Indian schools today are not very different from the quintessential American high schools we have been exposed to by pop culture. Perhaps they are worse, and have been for the better part of the century now.
You're never mad because you scored the lowest, but you're outraged because you think that it is how you will be perceived, and then the trend catches on. Photo: Independent Blog
Academic ridicule is the favourite bullying genre in India, and it is most effectively brought out during the session when the dreaded answer sheets are being handed: "Ruchi 45/50, good job Ruchi, Kartikey 15/50, this boy has scored the lowest marks in all my years of teaching (the whole class erupts in a chorus of laughter)".
You're never mad because you scored the lowest, but you're outraged because you think that it is how you will be perceived, and then the trend catches on. "Oye failure idhar ah, hahahaha" said a bully who revealed the information to another on the condition of anonymity.
A power struggle among peers has been waged, and then the classroom becomes a battleground among the clever folks and the ones society deems will never truly make anything of themselves (the ones who aren't smart enough, tall enough or pretty enough).This imaginary Berlin wall that stands between kids of equal standing breaks apart their souls, in turn ruining their purpose in this world.
They become the troll everyone loves sharing, lonely sods who relive their entire childhood without having truly lived. This act of ruthlessness is perhaps telling of how divisive we are as a society, seeding similar thoughts in our children as well. We are educating them about matters they perceive are set in stone, but are clearly not.
One in three children in India is bullied, and teachers have played their part extremely well in turning this phenomenon into a giant cry for help. I like teachers, but we must not hold them as the high watermark of all human achievement, but here we do and that has become a raging problem.
Power abuse has taken over because teachers clearly realise the importance of their standing in a student's life, and with egos as big as stubborn traffic snarls they make sure that an example is set.
I have seen several former classmates who didn't have a cordial relationship teachers who picked on them. A south Indian who never really spoke Hindi as a first language being subjected to mockery constantly because of his/her accent. Or the grey cells of students who really couldn't grasp the complexity of mathematics put on display in front of the whole class - day in and day out - by the teacher to make sure they found new ways to punish the children's relative haplessness.
And how does making someone stand in shame outside the classroom an assurance or remedy for academic success? Isn't the act itself self-defeating and callous? How will preventing someone from learning make them better students? How ironic is that (Don't think even Gregory House could justify that)?
The result of all such acts of brutality and judgment helps create new avenues for others, because the "professor" has passed a ruling, which is basically an invitation for others to weigh in and make themselves heard. This is no more "harmless banter", but the creation of a launch pad for similar deeds to take place year after year.
I always say, beware the unloved because they will eventually hurt themselves, submerging everyone around them in a pile of sorrow, buried under the notion, "Why didn't I do anything?"
The actions are out there for all to see, but the game is too elaborate and you wouldn't want to lose your cool quotient by going against the scheme of things.