In seventh grade, I did not listen to “popular” music. Hell, I still don’t listen to “popular” music. I would much rather pound Manhattan’s pavement listening to my Shinedown, Breaking Benjamin and Tonic than whatever latest hit pop single reached #1 on the iTunes chart.
But I certainly did not think, in seventh grade, no less, that my choice in music was anybody’s business.
Her name was Caroline. I honestly do not remember her last name, not that I would print it, anyways. But that just goes to show you how unimportant she now is to me; she is not a part of my life, she was not a part of my life in fifth grade. But she tried to be, and she was a bully.
She listened to the Pussycat Dolls and Ashlee Simpson. If I remember correctly, “Boyfriend” was often her song of choice, as she had an older sister who thought it imperative to pass down to her sibling her infinite, wisdom in “good” music selections.
I was more a fan of Santana, Seal and the Goo Goo Dolls, even back then, and could not have picked Ashlee Simpson out of a lineup. This was right around when iPods were just starting to become the next big thing, and I began to carry my first generation Shuffle to school, opting to deviate from my Discman player and book of CDs.
One day, Caroline ran up to me during downtime during class, as I was listening to my iPod, wanting to scroll through my lists of songs. I allowed her to; I did not see any harm in the gesture. She snickered as she scrolled through my playlists, but I ignored her, just wanting my iPod back and wanting to continue listening to my music in peace.
If snickering were the only thing she did to bully me, I would not bother to write a post about it on this blog. But, by next day’s time, she apparently told everyone in our class that I was a loser and “un-cool” and the whole class formed a group about me on their AIM accounts in which they typed back and forth to one another about all the reasons they thought I was “weird” and a “freak”… And this all started, because I listen to rock music? The absurdity.
Some may ask how I discovered the AIM account happenings. Two of the catty girls in my class who never talked to me started pressing me to get an AIM account in the following two weeks after this initial occurrence. They acted really sweet and said they just wanted to be able to chat with me outside of school. I suspected something was up and told my mom, and though she shielded me from the cyber bullying that was happening at the time, she discovered what was going on through other parents and immediately tried to put an end to the nonsense. But, ironically, the primary parent who told my mother of the happenings on AIM, and who knew her son was involved in the whole thing, did very little to put an end to it. Just a side note, but if parents choose to ignore the fact that their children are being bullies, they’re almost acting worse than their children.
So, cyber bullying and in-person teasing and taunting, all because I listened to a different type of music than what was the “norm” of my school. Let me tell you something, my music, to this day, is a part of who I am. And maybe that’s, in essence, why I chose to type up this post and share this experience with all of you. Aside the outrageous cyber bullying that stemmed from this, it really just initially hurt that someone would criticize my music choices, because it felt as though they were directly criticizing my values and me, which they were.
Do not let others define the person you are. Stay strong and stay true. I don’t know where Caroline is today, but I hope she’s in a better place than the girl I knew in seventh grade.
Also, I strongly encourage you all to listen to “Lullaby,” off Nickelback’s latest album, “Here and Now” for those who have not yet heard the song. Brilliant. And, I think, a perfect song to pair with this particular post.