WARNING – THIS PIECE CONTAINS GRAPHIC, SEXUAL LANGUAGE – NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED
My lad Tom has just started a new college. It’s a bit like Big Brother. On the first day everyone is great, brilliant, lovely, funny and so on. Everyone are friends, forever. Then the cracks appear. Then you realise that you don’t want to know certain people. The dynamics change. We have all had it. It’s part of growing up. We learn to hopefully not take it personally.
Tom was in a group chat on Facebook with several members from his course. He was desperate to fit in. He needed to be part of the crowd, to be accepted. He didn’t have a girlfriend, so was desperately hunting for one. One night Tom got chatting to a girl on-line, he added her to the private group chat. He was simply trying to fit in, showing the group that he has a girl friend, and showing the girl he has lots of friends. Adding someone to the group was frowned upon, and she was removed from the group. There were a couple of people live on the group chat – Paul, Claire and Ann, they started arguing with Tom. He got defensive, Tom and Paul started to give threats to each other to “sort each other out”. Tom backed down, and said he just wanted to be friends and not fall out with people. He apologised, he realised what he done was wrong. The others in the group chat were having none of it. Paul carried on wanting to have a fight, threatening to smash Tom’s face in. One of the girls – Anne told Paul not to have a fight in college, as he would get expelled. She then said she hoped Paul knocked Tom as she would kick his head in whilst unconscious.
Tom kept apologising, he said he shouldn’t have added someone to the group. He was sorry. He then posted pictures of some of the group together, saying why couldn’t they all be friends. He tried to remind them that they were all good friends. Another of the girls – Claire – accused Tom of being creepy for having photos of them all, eventually accusing Tom of masturbating over the pictures. She went on to call him a pervert and eventually a paedophile.
Paul was continuing to threaten Tom saying he would put him in a grave. Tom put another picture up of him with a friend, a girl – he was desperately trying to show he has friends. Claire and Anne accused him of “wanking” over the picture. Paul then asked if it was Tom’s sister, and if Tom was “shagging her”.
Tom said if they hated him that much, maybe he was better off “out-of-the-way”. Paul replied it would be better as they had never really liked him. Tom said he would kill himself to make things easier for them, Paul then said it was good idea, and that said he “would kick the stool away” if Tom tried to hang himself. Paul went on to say he would give him some bleach to drink, as Tom would suffer more and Paul could watch..
Tom was in pieces, it went on for a couple of hours. He was trying to get them to stop hating him. I eventually managed to get him to stop responding. He was telling me what being said, and eventually showed me the transcript.
The following morning Tom tried again to apologise again. He said he couldn’t remember what had happened – sometimes this does happen when he has a melt down
Claire and Anne were having none of it. Anne did say “arguments is all I do”. Another lad joined the chat and got involved. He told Tom how pathetic he was.
There has been several stories recently about on-line bullying. Felix Alexander’s mother , Lucy, has written to online bullies asking them to think before they post.
What if I had not been around? What if Tom had not been able to share what was happening? What if Tom had actually harmed himself. Would the others care? Would they have felt responsible? Was it just “banter”.
To those on-line – please stop and think. What if it was aimed at you? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Will you regret it tomorrow, next week, next year? Will your “banter” affect someone else forever?