I finished watching that Netflix series 13 Reasons Why last night.
YES I know, I know, I'm probably a bit of an idiot for even admitting that because no show has caused a greater divide among us people since that Moses dude did that thing with the red sea... not that that was a tv show or anything... um yeah moot point.
But I get the divide, I see the merit in the arguments both the experts and the spectators have put forth from either side of the fence and rest assured I'm not here to poke at anyone who sits on either side or pass judgement on their decision.
Oh hell no, because you see; it's an insanely personal decision whether you choose to watch it or not, and it also happens to be a subject that has ignited many flaming exchanges both online and off.
Heck, even my hubby and I were on complete opposite sides of the table when I first told him that I was going to watch it. He felt very strongly against it, but he respected my reasons why I was choosing to and that's the way it should be... we each respect each other's choices and that's why I sure as hell won't be judging your reasons to watch it or not.
None of us should.
Initially, I wasn't going to, watch it that is... given it the storyline is around suicide - a subject that I have spoken of before here and here... a subject that evokes all kinds of distressing emotions within me.
But a couple of weekends back, I picked my son and two of his friends up from a gathering with their high school friends and they were discussing 'the show' in the car on the way home.
Admittedly, I completely freaked out when they told me they had been watching it and that most of their friends had too, suicide contagion is something that absolutely terrifies me... but, I made the personal choice right there and then that I needed to watch it myself so that I was in a position to talk it through with my teenage son when inevitably the questions would come.
I watched all 13 episodes in two days and whilst I have to admit I was plagued with nightmares last night and have found myself haunted by scenes from the show all day, I don't regret my decision.
In fact, I am glad I have watched it as it flicked the switch on a lightbulb moment for me.
You see, whilst the show centres around so many different topics - all unquestionably awful and terrifying topics - it was the constant theme of them all that bothered me the most - the constant head turning.
You know what I am talking about right?
The putting on of blinkers and turning away when one sees someone else being bullied, victimised or treated badly.
I hate to think of how many times I have turned away in my lifetime, intentionally or not, and I also know myself how completely gutted I have felt when I have been the subject under attack and no one spoke up in my defence.
I cannot bear to think of that happening to anyone I care - my husband, my family, my friends or God forbid my children.
I cannot bear to think of it happening to anyone.
But it does, and it happens EVERY SINGLE DAY.
I see it on FB and instagram and in various closed online groups and communities I belong to ALL THE TIME, groups and communities that are supposed to be nurturing and supportive and yet right there within that 'safe environment' there is always someone that takes it upon themselves to throw some nasty at someone else. And whilst we all may see it happen, most of us will simply click away (the keyboard equivalent of turning our heads) and very few will be brave enough to speak up and call out the bad behaviour in fear of provoking an attack on themselves.
I understand why.
I mean it's not like we actually want to go looking for trouble right? Hell, most of us do everything we can to avoid it at all costs.
But what is that cost?
It's the same in the offline world.
We hear someone say something mean, sarcastic, maybe even quite vicious to (or about) someone else, and suddenly a cat swoops in and swipes our tongue. Yet again we think we are avoiding conflict or even doing the right thing by not getting involved.
But right there in that moment, we have a choice.
We can engage in it, ignore it or we can call it out and put a stop to it.
I like to think I have been pretty good at calling it out... but I also know that there are so many times I haven't, and that realisation was the lightbulb moment I had after watching the series and I am now more than ever resolved to pulling up my big girl panties and calling that behaviour out - whether it is against me or someone else.
None of us really need or want any additional drama in our lives... but what about the person who is standing there in front of us either in person or as a profile avatar online? They are exposed and vulnerable, shocked and hurting, and what is that doing to them?
It does all kinds of unimaginable damage.
That's what it does.
So I urge everyone, PLEASE, let's be brave enough to speak up and speak out when we see it happening. Let's speak up for ourselves when someone is doing wrong by us. Let's speak up for our friends and for strangers who need us, the fellow mum or woman in a FB group, the instagrammer we follow, the person someone is speaking so badly about behind their back.
Speak up for anyone who needs SOMEONE to stand next to them, even if it only provides comfort and support for a mere moment. It all counts in the bigger picture and hopefully our bravado will inspire someone else to be brave etc etc, maybe even our own kids...
13 Reasons Why is a sickening number of reasons anyone would feel the need to end it. Please for the love of God let's try and prevent wherever possible anyone having even one reason to begin with, because just one reason alone is one too many.
How brave are you when it comes to speaking up?
Have you watched 'that series'?