Un-Friend Request

Sunday, October 2, 2011 | 5 Comment(s)

*Disclaimer* This may be a blog first.  i'm not going to use someone's real name in this post.  usually i do. but I suspect that some people who i went to high school with may read this blog, and I'm just not sure i want to deal with the possible repercussions of using this person's real name.  I guess I'm just admitting to myself that i don't need or want more drama in my life.  but i still want to say whats on my mind. *end disclaimer*

The city (small city) i grew up in was not a particularly fun environment back then.  And whilst most of the time in high school i was just cool enough to stay off people's radar, there were some kids who just seemed to really zone in on me.  Mark Johnson was quite possibly the worst.  At least in high school.  While the soccer team has its own brand of fear tactics and prejudice language, Mark Johnson somehow managed to make his anti-me anti-jewish kid agenda extremely clear to me without ever even being on a sports team with me.  He literally chucked pennies at me.  i mean, who fucking does that?  They do stupid shit like that on after-school specials -- not in actual high schools.  He did.  He knew all the slurs. It's amazing that such a dumb-fuck of a kid had such a wide vocabulary of religious (and requisite homosexual) slurs.  I hated Mark Johnson.  I hated him in the way that the 15-year-old inside me still hates him.

I remember one English class where the teacher stepped out into the hall for some reason, and immediately he stood up and shouted slurs and made fun of what a lame jewish gaytard i was in front of the entire class.  There never seemed to be any repercussions for his behavior, and the injustice of that stuck with me.  I should mention that by high school i was no longer defenseless.  Well, no longer defenseless in the sense that while i still had no actual defense against Mark and his bullying, i had figured out that the issue was one of his anger and poor parenting, not some innate defect of mine.

In my experience, while that may take away the sting of the assaults, it rarely kept them from leaving a mark (bully pun!).

Now the question you may be asking yourself is why i'm dragging this sob story out.  Well, on friday -- the Jewish New Year and high holiday of Rosh Hashana, Mark Johnson sent me a friend request on Facebook. (i do wonder if the irony of this act was completely lost on him)

The whole world has literally come full circle. Or at least the definition of "friend."  Friend somehow morphed from the people you care about the most, to some of the people i care about the absolute least in the world.

A few weeks back my dad told me that an old middle/high school acquaintance of mine had been caught embezzling money from his uncles business.  I have zero connection to this person anymore, but on some base level i felt bad for him.  I mean, i knew the 13-year-old version of this guy--and that kid was no embezzler.  He was just a little fat drama geek trying to survive high school like the rest of us.  If someone told me that Mark Johnson was thrown in jail for whathaveyou (let's say, for shits and giggles, a hate crime) . . . I wouldn't care.  Not even a little.  And that's crazy to me, because it's not the type of person i am.  Or at least not my conceptualization of myself.  I think of myself as over-empathetic, crying at videos of the Japanese tsunami or Andy Rooney's last broadcast on 60 Minutes.

I think it's that my 15-year-old self still cries for retribution.  Mark Johnson is as much a symbol of the abuse i took in high school as he was a source of it.  And that abuse is an integral part of the lens through which i see a world full of beautiful underdogs who simply need a healthy watering of love and acceptance. And he is a symbol of the judgement and criticism and self-hatred and shame that form the gauntlet we call by the startlingly benign name of adolescence.  So to my emotional self, any downfall that befittingly comes to Mark seems like a move in the right direction, even though my rational self knows that a bunch of horse crap.

Either way, i did not accept his friend request.


  1. Perhaps he's dying of some horrible disease and wants absolution from those he knows he wronged. I personally would have sent him a message that seared his face off and wished him a lingering death. I'm not as big as you.

  2. Hi Matt,
    I don't usually read people's blogs but this particular post caught my eye, first because of the Real World reference (:D), and second because of the subject of bullying (a huge topic in school psychology). I can't imagine what it must have been like for you, but I definitely had some awful things said to me in HS that I will never forget. And I have definitely turned down several friend requests as a result. It takes a lot of maturity and strength to be able to understand the motive behind the bullying, so the fact that you were able to figure it out in high school is impressive. You were already thinking like a psychologist :).
    -Mentee For Life

  3. @dolly i just dont have the time or energy.

    @JDunk im glad you read this one! and glad you are still so invested in what you are learning. makes me very proud. -MentorFL

  4. School yard bullying is bad, but there are greater sufferings in this world from which there is no escape, look at the have nots around the world, look at Africa where people have no food, look at Russia, where people starve in cold unheated buildings. Then look at all the blessings you have and see if you can bless someone else. Have you heard of Nick Vujicic? You indeed are blessed.

  5. @ Anon. You bet your ass I'm blessed! But this post was not about relative pain. To think that because there is incredible suffering in the world that this will somehow diminish our own personal pain, especially in retrospect, is foolish. I would never compare my suffering to another persons, and while i can celebrate a man with no limbs' triumph, it doesn't make the younger version of myself any less scared when i was walking home from school, trying to evade bullies.