Simon Says: Bullies Fail When No One Will Watch

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DALLAS — There was this kid in sixth grade I couldn’t stand. He was a bully. An emotional bully who sat next to me and would always say things like, “Simon, you stink” or “I’m better than you and can beat you up.”

There are worse things — I can’t say here — but this kid was bad.

After a few weeks of his attitude, I went Godfather on him. I ignored him. And something quickly happened. When he lost me as an audience, he shut up and never bothered me again.

So, in sixth grade, I learned a valuable lesson: It’s harder to be mean when there’s no one around to see it.

I started thinking about that kid a few minutes after I heard about Vester Flanagan.

We all know about the sick guy and the live shot. He now joins a Wall of Shame of people like James Holmes, Sung Wi Choo, Dylann Roof, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, and Adam Lanza.

We hear about their lives, while the sound bites from people who knew them all sound the same. Sure, they are all withdrawn, but it’s ironic how they all wanted an audience when they got violent.

But what if we never give people like this an audience?

We hear it over and over again how media glorifies killers. Yet, like a broken record, all of us show their broken lives.

Imagine if everyone finally stopped, ignored the manifestos, the tweets, and the Facebook posts. Just like that, that kid in sixth grade was ignored.

Perhaps the next guy will spare us the play-by-play on social media. And maybe, just maybe, have a reason to spare someone’s life.