Someday, you’ll leave school, and all the torturers in your youth will fade back into a distant, annoying buzz. All the stupid things they’ve said to you, all the bad advice they gave just to foul you up, all the moronic things they posted about you in Facebook – none of it will matter.
Amanda Diane Cummings, a 15-year-old Dongan Hills girl, did not live long enough to see that. After being bullied and harassed for her relationship with an older teen, the Staten Island girl stepped in front a bus on Hylan Boulevard last week, with a suicide note in her pocket, the New York Daily News reported.
She died Monday.
Her story has frustrating similarities with that of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old New Jersey college student who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010.
For one thing, Tyler, too, was bullied for his personal life – in his case, a romantic encounter with another man. Amanda, in turn, was allegedly persecuted by peers who decided it was their business whether she dated a guy who was a whopping three years older than she.
For another thing, online networking offered new tools to Clementi and Cummings’ tormentors, and gave futuristic dimension to their harassment. Tyler’s roommate, Dharun Ravi, covertly streamed video on the Internet of Clementi kissing a man. Similarly, an online message may have pushed Cummings over the edge, and her uncle told the Advance that some people posted rude comments on her Facebook page even as she lay dying at Staten Island University Hospital.
It seems insurmountable when a public spotlight shines where you feel most vulnerable. It’s hard enough for teens to manage their own feelings, much less stand up for them in a public forum, in defiance of the world. This is a time in your life when you still very much care what everyone thinks of you.
But one day, you won’t. And trust me, that’s going to be a really nice day. Your fame on the Internet will pass – within seconds, in most cases. And all the haters will look like angry specks in the distance – ragged, squealing sea birds shrinking away in the rear-view mirror. That may be hard to believe. But even if you don’t feel it yet, just say it over and over until you do: The bullies don’t matter.
And someday, sooner than you expect, they just won’t be part of your life.
So keep your head down. Live for what matters. Talk to the people who love you. And screw the rest of them. Don’t let the bastards win.