Monday, December 5, 2011

Mopey Monday - Jonah Mowry

For this Mopey Monday, I'm gonna go with something that has been on my mind, and that I hope will make you think about your own teenage years with a little more compassion.

By now most of you have probably seen this video that has been circulating on Facebook walls around the world:

Pretty heart-rending, huh? I thought so too. Then this other video started circulating:

So of course, the internet at large exploded in outrage saying that Jonah lied, that he was a fraud etc., etc.

I've been thinking a lot about this, and while I'm not really sure what to think, I am not sure that the second video makes the first a fake. He says his school loves him, sure. But he doesn't say he wasn't bullied, or that he lied, or that he isn't (or wasn't) unhappy a lot of the time.

These days sad and tragic stories are so carefully told in the media. Appearance is everything - and if you don't fit the image of you that has been created (whatever that image is), all of a sudden nothing you might have stood for or said counts. But I think it's important to remember that this is a normal, real kid. He's not a celebrity with a PR company monitoring his every move. He's not a campaign. He's a real person - and a teenager at that - who is capable of being bullied and sad and unhappy a lot of the time, but who can still make a silly video with a friend in a happy moment in the safety of his own home.

Does this make his original message any less valid? Not to me. I know when I was in 8th grade I was capable of intense depression, silliness, laughter, tears and anger in the course of an afternoon. And that was on a good day. Did it make being bullied any easier, or any less wrong? No, it did not. And maybe, in the four months between when the first video was made (August - before school started) and the second one, which from what I can tell, was pretty recent (a few months into school), things actually improved for him. Which is a good thing, right?

But even if he didn't tell the truth in his first video, even if he's always been a happy, well-liked kid, I don't know if that really matters. There are so many kids out there who go through some (or all) of these things every day for their entire school careers, and if a video like this can give some of them a voice, or make them feel less alone, I have nothing bad to say about it. I wish we'd had YouTube when I was that age so that I could have seen other kids out there going through the same things. It's hard to be a teenager. And every kid deserves compassion.

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