UPDATED DUE TO NAME ERRORS CAUSED BY AUTHOR STUPIDITY.
I was sent a link to a video on Twitter this morning (cheers, btw!). It’s one of those clever little videos that have gone all ‘viral’, which is a word that is used when something shit on the internet gets watched by a lot of people who want to make a comment on society but haven’t got a clue how to do it. Viral is indeed the right word, because almost all the things that go viral – a dog catching a frisbee, a cat jumping out of a box, an old man farting in his sleep, someone double jointed climbing inside a fridge, a toddler breakdancing, a shark gargling a seal carcass, a dad crying into his pint, a dancing shrub, a whistling door, a fluttering toaster – are of no value to the world whatsoever, or in some cases even less than that. They’re destructive and contagious and you feel dirty if you get them. Viral, shmiral.
So you should watch this video, because it has something to say, only I’m not quite sure what that is. It’s roughly two and a half minutes of a child crying and threatening to kill himself as his mother (we are left to assume) tells us that this is the result of relentless bullying and that we all have to wake up to reality and so on and so on. The camera is fixed on the child at all times and at no point does a hand emerge to give the little chap a reassuring stroke or some maternal point of comfort. What emerges instead is a rather worrying portrait of a mother/son dynamic that doesn’t quite seem to work. The kid is a kind of distressed and angry that you wouldn’t wish on anyone, and while plenty of people have found the video “heart breaking” I, personally, find it heart breaking for him that it’s out there at all.
I feel for the kid – Quaden Bayles – and it appears most of the rest of the world do too, as his dear mother has flicked out into the moral void in some kind of attempt to garner sympathy. Millions of people have sent messages of support and empathy and other vital human traits of compassion, like emojis. How on earth did we manage before emojis? Just imagine what Dickens or Austen or Shakespeare could have achieved if they’d wielded the power of a smiling cartoon poo. What a screwed up world we live in where you can see a video of a stranger, posted by another stranger and then consider it entirely appropriate to express your feelings through the medium of emojis. I bet that’ll help Quaden. Yes, that must be the answer.
You see, I’m not trying to be a bastard here. Quaden clearly has some very concerning mental health issues and his school has a few awkward questions to answer about bullying, but while I am not a parent I think if he was my son pretty much the last thing I’d do at that point would be to whip out my phone, film him and start preaching. Look at it another way – if you had just had your foot removed in a bizarre accident would you film your bloodied stump and post it on Twitter to find out what Piers Morgan had to say or would you use that phone to call an ambulance? This is like filming a murder and then asking why no one tried to stop it. So you do see.
Bullying is horrible. And it’s everywhere. It’s everywhere because almost everyone does it. It is a human instinct to exert dominance over something that you deem to be lesser than yourself. Ms Bayles (who we never get to see) has got all the attention she was after and her poor little nipper has now been given a global exposure that is very unlikely to afford him any help at all. Sympathy is rarely very helpful, but I’ll tell you what is helpful – help. And that’s what he needs – help, not a fucking string of sad faced emojis and a couple of hearts. “This ain’t no joke no more” gasps mother, just after some awful string music plays over a shot of her Twitter feed and a glimpse of all those redundant thoughts. No, it isn’t a joke, and it never was. It just depends how you want to deal with it. I hope they’ve got Quaden some proper help by now. He really looks like he could do with it.
G B Hewitt. 21.02.2020