Thought Catalog
April 14, 2017

What You Need To Remember When Caring About ‘13 Reasons Why’ Stops Being Cool

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13 Reasons Why

Bullying. Mean Girls. Peer Pressure. These are all buzzwords we are not strangers to, not only as teens or children in school but as adults in the real world as well. In the age of social media and smart phones especially, cyber-bullying has taken the act of bullying to a whole other extreme level. I know we’ve all heard news reports about these problems. We’ve heard about young boys and girls taking drastic measures – either hurting themselves or others as a result of all this bullying.

But unfortunately, I don’t think a nightly news recap story or a short article in the newspaper are the right outlets to reach kids about all of this important stuff. Not only do most kids and teens not even watch the news, but I also feel like 30 seconds on the local station is not enough time to really bring these certain issues to light. I know when I was 13 years old I could barely be bothered by the “boring” news my parents would watch because I thought it had nothing to do with my world. After all, that is the prime “I’m too cool for everything” age. But it is also the prime age where real issues with peers seem to begin.

Being a pre-teen/ teenager is hard. You could not pay me to go back to that time for a million bucks. I feel like teenaged problems are too often overlooked and they’re blamed on hormones or overly dramatic behavior when really, these kids are feeling lost in finding out who they are and who their friends are.

That is why I think the new Netflix Series is so perfectly done. It touches on the REAL consequences of what can happen if certain feelings and behaviors are overlooked or provoked for too long. Each hour long episode takes the time to explore emotions and the real consequences of bullying (and many other issues). If you’ve been living under a rock the past week you’ve probably never heard of 13 Reasons Why…yet.

The story follows teenagers as they try to figure out why their classmate and friend Hannah Baker took her own life. She leaves them a series of tapes (I know how retro) explaining her feelings and how each one of them had something to do with what she did.

Of course I know before it was a hit show produced by queen Selena Gomez herself, it was a book. I read it when I was about the same age as Hannah Baker. The book was honest, raw, and eye opening to the real consequences of bullying.

But I also know, that much like the news, younger kids these days couldn’t care less about reading actual books. They’d much rather be reading a 140 character tweet or binge watching a new show on their IPad, which is why Netflix is the perfect outlet to bring this heavy message to life for the younger generation.

I remember being touched by the story when I read it so many years ago but I also thought it was just that: a story, dramatized events made up for our entertainment. It really wasn’t until years later when I was personally affected by such a tragedy did I realize how real this story could be.

A few years back, an old high school friend took his own life, seemingly out of the blue. No one seemed to see this coming, making it that much harder for everyone to come to terms with it. And I think that’s when it really hit me. You never truly know what is going on behind closed doors, in someone else’s head and how everyday life could really affect them.

As Hannah Baker said, “You really don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life.”

I hope this miniseries will open up the eyes of maybe some otherwise oblivious and ignorant people and of those who are fortunate enough never have been touched by this issue personally.

Different comments, remarks, gestures and looks can and will be perceived differently by every person. So many times, we speak without thinking about how it will affect the person we are speaking to. Everyone is guilty of this, I admit I’m nowhere near perfect. I’ve put my foot in my mouth way too many times to count and I’ve said some things I didn’t mean. But tearing people down to build yourself up is never ok, even if it’s meant to be a funny joke. Odds are the person on the receiving end of it isn’t laughing.

I think not only should all children/teenagers, but adults too, should be required to read this book and watch this series at some point in their lives because it is a story that touches on so many issues that are plaguing our society today- (cyber)bullying, sexual harassment, profiling, drug abuse, and of course suicide. It shows more truthful and raw sides of all these things that news outlets often fail to show. I think a lot of people like to turn the blind eye to major issues. If they don’t see any of it, it’s like it all just doesn’t exist but unfortunately these bad things in life are happening and if this show/book can bring more awareness to it all then maybe we can all see more warning signs and stop some of it from happening.

I hope that when #13ReasonsWhy is no longer a top hashtag or when the image is no longer on the top of the Netflix queue, people still think about the importance of these characters and their story and how every little thing that is said and done can matter.

And quite frankly I hope it just makes some otherwise not so nice people, a little freakin nicer. TC mark