What Would You Do?
January 10, 2011
I recently watched an episode of ABC’s What Would You Do? about homophobic bullying. The show hires actors to play out morally questionable situations in public to observe how people react. This episode featured a guy being pushed around and ridiculed for being gay by three other guys, while most passersby ignored what was going on.
After watching the show, I got the impression that someone being picked on for being different while the majority of people just go about their business was supposed to be surprising news. Honestly, I wasn’t all that surprised. I may not be gay, but I know from experience what being a victim feels like. Getting hit and insulted can be a painful experience that often leaves a lasting social and emotional impact on victims.
In an ideal world, people would be altruistic and caring about everyone. But in the real world, people often only care about what affects them and the people they know. So why should we expect heterosexuals to stick up for gay people or passersby to stand up to bullies?
Well, bullying isn’t something that only applies to gay people. Ironically, we are all part of a minority in one way or another. Whether we’re part of a religious minority, an ethnic minority, don’t have values held by the mainstream or we just think or act differently than most, we are all potential victims of bullying. Therefore, the best way to ensure our safety against bullying is to stop it as a whole—not only when our friend is the victim, but also when anyone we come across is being victimized. Bullies provoke fear in individual bystanders, so people don’t take action when they see someone being bullied. But if we realize our power as a group and stand up to bullying, the bullies will be powerless.