Unfortunately, it’s no secret that bullying is a very real issue in our society. Bullying, by definition, is to use superior strength to intimidate someone else. There are tons of sites to raise awareness of how genuine of a concern it is for people, primarily children. It is fairly common in schools and workplaces, and it can get to certain points if consistent that lead to extremely serious consequences. Bullying has a purpose; to make the person bullying feel superior than the individual they are picking on. For some, they can block it out and reassure themselves that what that person is saying is not true. However, a lot of people take those words to heart which lead to actions such as harming themselves and, unfortunately, suicide. This is not uncommon in the 21st century, so bullying is depicted in many TV shows and movies. One of the most popular shows that involves bullying, suicide, and mental health which exhibits an accurate representation of what it is like in many peoples lives is 13 Reasons Why. In this Netflix original series, we follow Hannah Baker, a high school girl that committed suicide due to bullying, and left behind cassette tapes explaining all of the reasons why she killed herself. Each tape explains a different scenario of a classmate bullying and sabotaging her and it leads up to her breaking point, which occurs in the last episode.
If I were to put the DVD’s of 13 Reasons Why into a time capsule and someone found it 100 years from now, I feel as though it would precisely exhibit how teenagers/young adults are in our schools in 2018. From the real life issues for teenagers like slut shaming, mental health concerns, hiding from parents, and rape culture, to the clothing, the houses, the schools, and the language, I chose 13 Reasons Why for my cultural artifact because of how authentic it would be to someone looking to see how life was like for this point in time. This show also represents how diverse our country is when it comes to race and ethnicity. There are a wide variety of people in 13 Reasons Why; Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Chinese, etc. Years ago, this was not the case, as the majority of people in America were white. Multiple races are represented in 13 Reasons Why which is accurate to life in America today.
This Netflix show is extremely popular, breaking a record as being the most talked about show on social media in Netflix history. Although there are a number of reasons this show is so successful, one of the principal reasons is because of the main storyline. It truly depicts mental health and bullying into a different light, making it much more real to many of those that might not understand how serious the effects of bullying could be. Because this show is so widely favored and many have seen it, suicide and mental health have been taken much more seriously since the show was put on Netflix in March of 2017.
In our current world, a little more than one out of every five students (about 20%) have reported being bullied (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016). With this being the case, it’s not necessarily an uncommon phenomenon. There are a large number of bullying prevents sites and hotlines to help those that are struggling with handling bullies in schools. Another form of bullying that is fairly new to our society but is widely popular is cyber bullying, which can be defined as harassing someone online or over text message. For example, in 13 Reasons Why, a classmate of Hannah Baker’s sends around a racy picture of Hannah to her entire school along with a sexual rumor. Obviously, Hannah doesn’t appreciate this and is very taken back and humiliated. This would be considered cyberbullying. With all of our society’s technology invented in the last few years, cyberbullying is no stranger to our current world. Although it’s horrible and is now against the law, over half of adolescents have been bullied online, as well as the same number being engaged in cyber bullying, according to bullyingstatistics.org.
It is a sad realization that harassing people is normal for teenagers and is seen all the time in schools. 13 Reasons Why perfectly displays how immoral kids can be in our day and age and how awful the consequences can truly be. Bullying leads to anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low self esteem, and for some, it can lead to the taking of their own life. It’s nothing to take lightly, although some children may find that hard to understand.
13 Reasons Why is a show that I believe if someone from the future were to watch, they would have an accurate thought of how our high schools are today. While it doesn’t apply to everyone and a lot of people do not experience bullying, it is extremely normalized and prevalent in today’s society.