Bullying is one of those subjects that gets talked about a lot in modern media. Yet, from my own experience, it's very rare that a film, TV show, web series, etc. actually hits on the lasting impacts of bullying. I've been out of the public school system for just under nine years now and I still wake up sometimes with the words and actions of my bullies running through my mind. Bullying can shape your life in fundamental ways that don't just go away because it's not happening five times a week anymore. Last year's documentary Bully showed how bad the behavior can be and how readily it's swept under the rug for the school's reputation. The It Gets Better campaign attempted to show just how many people are impacted by bullying and how it is possible to get through it.
Now, poet Shane Koyczan is taking this slowly emerging wave of reality-based activism to the next level. He wrote a spoken word poem called "To This Day" about his own experience being bullied as a kid. It starts with the lead-in to the first real bullying he experienced, then really takes off. The whole thing takes a turn for the dark and shocking with his perspective on the attacks.
Then he pulls in two other stories from his friends to broaden the range and blur the meaning of bullying. Koyczan's own bullying stemmed from a silly misunderstanding. His friends were bullied because of their appearance and medical condition.
If bullying really were just a case of kids being kids and something everyone experiences, then everyone would be able to share a story as unsettling as the stories in "To This Day." There's a world of difference between having someone take your lunch money and having someone systematically attack you for weeks at a time, vandalizing your property, insulting you, and physically attacking every time they see you. While both are examples bullying, the persistence of bullying over a long period of time is what's going to cause lasting damage. It's also very rare for the one incident that's so easily pushed aside to be the only incident in the involuntary relationship between a bully and a victim.
"To This Day" is hopefully going to turn into a much larger project that explores how a single act of bullying cannot be isolated from the collective experience of bullying. Shane Koyczan has already made the poem into a collaborative project, inviting artists to submit animated segments for a beautiful video illustrating the "To This Day" poem. He encourages you to sign up at his website for e-mail updates so you'll be one of the first to know about the next phase of the project.
So what do you think? Share your thoughts below.