It’s Not What You Know

Donald Trump set up his “empire” starting with just a “small loan of one million dollars” from his father. If this isn’t just the pinnacle of nepotism then I don’t know what is. Firstly, if you think one million dollars is a small loan then you’re jaded and misguided and you have no right to talk about money as if you’re self-made. Secondly, if your family can afford to lend you one million dollars then you’re not exactly going to struggle in life as it is.

It’s this idea of nepotism that, on occasions, really has me exceptionally depressed.

The problem I have with nepotism is that it affords luxuries and experiences that other people can only dream of. If my father were CEO of a company then I’d be able to learn on the job when he ultimately appointed me a position within said company. It’s not a privilege that people like me get, we don’t get that sort of experience.

My first example, because she’s been all over my newsfeed recently, is Stephanie McMahon. Her grandfather passed the business down to her father and now ultimately it’s being passed down to her. I’m not saying she hasn’t worked for her position because I know some of her history, where she started off working in the lower ranks and stuff modelling t-shirts as a child and working the lower rungs of the ladder. But this is still an experience most people wouldn’t get. Some days I simply dream of being backstage at a WWE event, let alone working at one with the intention of working my way up. She was also afforded WWE training (as all children of WWE superstars are), which is an experience I would have loved but my parents were never into it.

Now I’m not blaming her for where she is today. She wouldn’t have got where she is by just sitting back and letting daddy do all the work for her. But while people are desperately trying to build ladders made of twigs to higher platforms, her father have her a solid steel ladder and all she had to do was not fall off.

The Yogscast. I’ve mentioned these a couple of times before in previous articles but this is ultimately what nepotism is. The YOGS in Yogscast stands for Ye Old Goon Squad which was the name of a party in WOW (don’t ask the specifics, I’m not a WOW guy). You can often hear of them talking about how they used to do things together in WOW and so it’s no wonder they got the jobs as content creators. Lewis and Simon would have had the initial success but everybody else was allowed the opportunity that others don’t have. People don’t go into YouTube with a pre-set audience but being friends with Lewis and Simon allowed some of these people to begin a channel with a successful channel already willing to promote them and back their audience. It’s not the same as starting out with zero viewers and absolutely no successful channel endorsements.

Let’s stick with the topic of YouTubers and take a look at Shane Dawson. Now Shane Dawson is another self-made YouTuber in that he was there at the beginning and took advantage of the timing and opportunity given to him. But, can we say the same for the other people who have garnered a large following off of his back? But who are these people? Shanna Malcolm, Drew Monson, Ryland Adams, Bobby Burns and a number of other people. Now I’m not saying, once again, that these people don’t work for what they’ve got, but Shane Dawson featuring them in videos and promoting them gives them that ladder they need to get to the next level. They don’t need to do the difficult task of gaining viewers, simply keeping them and as long as they’re friends with Shane then that won’t be difficult. It is the equivalent of being allowed a billboard in Times Square just because of who you’re friends with. Not saying you didn’t work hard in making that billboard, but people wouldn’t see it if it wasn’t for your friend.

And finally, where would ASMR be without collaboration videos. The good ol’ “look at who I can get to feature in my videos” video. Most of the time this doesn’t improve sound quality, some people can do better on their own, but it’s shameless self-promotion using others to gain their audience. It’s not a bad thing, it’s how promoting your channel works, but it’s just that being friends with these people allows you the opportunity to create that channel with an already existing fanbase.

What I’m saying is that if I were friends with Shane Dawson, Simon and/or Lewis of the Yogscast or any ASMRtist with a significant audience then it wouldn’t be starting from square one for me. It would be like starting on square four or five from which it’s almost impossible to not garner the audience.

Oh and let’s not mention the added bonuses of better cameras, better microphones, better video editing software and editing techniques from professionals. All of these are things that square one starters don’t have. We have basic editing packages that we barely know how to use and basic cameras that we are learning with but we don’t get the view count for trying, we just get criticised that our cameras aren’t good enough or our video editing isn’t good enough.

I think this is one of the reasons I get uptight with YouTube a lot more than anything else, it’s that people complain and don’t realise the opportunities that they have been given, and it annoys me even more when these opportunities have been given through nepotism more than talent or interest.

This is also why I get uptight when people criticise me for asking for help. I’m asking for help to improve my situation, not just because I’m attention seeking (which some people have accused me of).

(As always, no offence is meant to anybody, I’m simply stating what I see from an outsiders point of view).

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The Invisible Class

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Now, before we begin, I have to say that I don’t really know a lot about Chrissy Teigen (I’m sorry, female models aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse), but I do remember seeing her on a television show and thinking she was quite cool.

Also, I grew up on WWE and it was no secret that I wanted to be the Billion Dollar Princess and so my admiration for Stephanie McMahon goes far beyond anything I could write on a blog.

With that being said, I want everybody to keep in mind that nothing personal is meant towards either of these people. This, once again, is a blog post that explains how sometimes things can be taken badly and why they might be taken that way.

So, as you can see, Chrissy Teigen gets an official invitation to Wrestlemania 34 simply because she tweeted out about how she once attended a show and had to leave early. I’ve done my research and found out she didn’t really want to be there to start with (she spent weeks making fun of it) and then once her husband had performed he decided to leave and she had changed her mind at that point and didn’t want to leave. However, she did.

But this isn’t an issue with Chrissy’s actions at all. Whether she stayed or left the arena at Wrestlemania 24 (I believe it was), is completely irrelevant. This boils down to a class issue.

Let’s look at it this way. Chrissy Teigen is a well known female model, married to John Legend who has fame in his own right. They are both famous for their own things, not just for who they are married to, and so they both have their fortunes. They are considerably higher paid than the average family and have probably had their fair share of what most people would consider “once in a lifetime” things. (Simply going to America once was considered a “once in a lifetime event” for my family), Given this it’s unsurprising that people get their backs up when she’s getting official personal invitations to an event that she didn’t particularly want to be at originally. Contrast that with the hundreds of thousands of people who have admired wrestling for most of their lives, it’s something most people would kill to have. But, and now here’s the kicker for most people, why does she get it? Because she’s Chrissy Teigen. Her name has weight behind it, how much weight is irrelevant because it’s clearly more than Average Joe. Good publicity for the WWE too. But this is the rich benefiting from being rich. This is rich people helping each other out and hooking each other up with things.

I must concede that the WWE do a lot for charity. They have a Be A Star campaign, the Make A Wish moments that they do and Tributes To The Troops to name just a few. This I am not knocking, it’s a fair amount more than most companies do.

But, and here’s where my issue with things in life sit, what about the invisible upper-working class or the lower-middle class? This may seem absurd to a lot of people, in fact the only people who will probably understand this are those that fit into either of those categories because we know what it’s like to feel invisible.

WWE was my life for a very, very long time. Where I grew up it wasn’t socially acceptable to admit you liked it. Being British and liking Wrestling is sometimes viewed as a bit odd and I got bullied for liking it. And this didn’t stop when I went home. I had three older brothers who all thought Wrestling was a waste of time and my parents asked me pretty much everyday whether I had “grown out of it yet”. So I never got a reprise from the suggestion that wrestling was for children. And yet I pushed through.

But I was never an under-privileged kid, I always had food on the table and a roof over my head. Money was sometimes difficult but never “when will we eat again” difficult. I’ll happily admit that financially my family didn’t have it the worst. We didn’t have it the best either. We weren’t First Class passengers on planes and we had to look for cheap deals for holidays. Not awful but we couldn’t drop money like celebrities and we certainly weren’t jetting off to Wrestlemania anytime soon.

And so with my families disdain for WWE I was never going to go to a wrestling event. I still, to this day, have never been to one. My parents weren’t going to take me or even pay for me to go to one. (This is also the reason I don’t know a lot about British wrestling, I was barely allowed to watch RAW and Smackdown so they weren’t likely to take me to a local wrestling show).

But people like me apparently don’t have a right to complain. Why? Well, because our financial situation was good. Forget everything else in the world, if your financial situation is good then you’re viewed a certain way. It didn’t matter that even if my parents did have the money I wasn’t going to get to go. My parents wouldn’t even pay for Pay-Per-Views.

Now I don’t look down on those that benefit from the charity of the WWE. In fact I admire the charity work that the WWE does, it’s amazing and I love hearing the stories. But sometimes, and here’s where it gets a little bit bleak, I prayed to be in a position to receive it. Whether this meant, as a child, losing a limb or possibly being diagnosed with something terminal, for me they had benefits. Now I’ve spoken about this in my self-harm post but some days I don’t see the negatives of negative things and so my mind only sees the benefits of them. For me, on these days, my brain would only see that my chances of meeting WWE superstars were increased. It’s fairly difficult as a teenager not to self-mutilate when there only seems to be positives to doing it. But I have mental health problems, I’m not for one moment stating that’s the common mindset of everybody. All I can do is speak for myself.

And then, as you get older, you realise your chances dwindle with each passing year. The WWE do a lot of their work with children and so once you’re an adult you can basically kiss away your chances of meeting any of them. (Unless you join the US military but I’m British and the WWE doesn’t get involved with British military often, that I know of).

So I hope you can see how invisible we feel sometimes. Stuck in the middle with nobody really hearing our voices. We’re expected to be able to do stuff because we’re better off than some but we can’t do certain things because we’re not as well off as others. And then you see offers going to celebrities who, if they REALLY wanted to, could afford to go to every single Wrestlemania ever held. In fact the offers go to those in positions above and below you, but never to somebody like you. This is why it’s sometimes hard to stomach things like this, because I sometimes feel like I’m living in the invisible class and as much as I need help people won’t give it to me because they expect me to be able to help myself, even when I readily admit I can’t.

Lonely This Christmas

“Christmas has the ability to surround you with people, and still make you feel super alone.”

These aren’t actually my words but they’ve been ringing around in my head for the last thirteen hours, ever since Mr Meridian posted them on his Twitter.

I can’t talk much about Christmas growing up because I grew up in a house of Jehovah’s Witnesses and so we didn’t really have Christmas. We weren’t as strict as other households but we didn’t have all the decorations and the festivities and such, it was more just a time to be with family. So that was eight years of my life (between the ages of eight and sixteen) when, as a minor, I was forced to follow along with the religion of my parents choosing.

The funny thing is that I actually love Christmas. I love the excitement people get when they open presents I have bought them. I actually like shopping for presents and spending time to think what other people might like. Even if they don’t like it, I like to think I’ve put some effort into it. Some people say it’s the thought that counts but I feel it’s the effort, that you can really tell somebody has been thinking about you by the presents they get you. It’s a lot more than “here’s some socks and you should be thankful you got anything because it’s the thought that counts”.

Christmas is also a time when I get to play board games. I’ve not found anybody who can match me in a game of Monopoly (everybody usually gives up and I win by default) so we don’t get to play that, but I love all board games and so I just love the idea of turning the television off and playing them rather than sitting silently in a room staring at a box. It’s also the only time of year that my family really indulges me in this, all the other times they’re too busy or have other things to do. Only at Christmas do we sit down as a family and play them.

But, even with all this and the included festivities that my work puts on, I still feel a little bit empty around Christmas. This year has been particularly hard. I have three brothers, all older, who all have either moved or will be moving into new houses in the next month or two. Add onto this the fact that my brother’s are all in long-term relationships and two out of the three of them have children. Me? Where am I? Well, I’m in the same place I’ve always been. Single. Always and forever single.

This is a tough point most of the year but at Christmas it’s very much emphasised because you’re surrounded by people. Even when playing board games, I make the numbers uneven and the teams uneven because I’m single and so the choice is don’t play or remember that you’re single. And when it comes to going to bed, after all of the festivities and holiday stuff, I’m just going to go to my room on my own and feel inevitably single when I’m alone in my bed.

Now I’m not saying I dislike Christmas, I’m just saying I’d like somebody to spend it with. But then this isn’t just Christmas. I want somebody to spend every day with. I want somebody to talk to about things and somebody who actually wants to spend time with me, not because they’re related or we work together. I just want to feel wanted. But, as I’ve said, this isn’t only Christmas, Christmas is just a time when everything is magnified and you’re forced to take stock of where everybody is in their life in regards to relationships and family and it just emphasises the idea of being alone.

It’s even difficult after Christmas, as I found when returning to work. You get asked the question “did you have a good Christmas?” or “what did you do for Christmas?” and the fact of the matter is that for me it’s just another day of the year. It’s another day when I feel alone and want somebody but you can’t say that because you’re not allowed to be miserable at Christmas, you have to say “yeah, it was good”. It’s also a day where nothing else changes. I can’t say “Well, on Christmas day we went to visit my partner’s parents and then on boxing day we visited my parents” etc. It’s just “I woke up, opened some presents, played some games, went back to sleep”.

Oh and don’t even get me started on how vivid and romance based my dreams have been recently that make you wake up, realise it was a dream and feel bad about how you now have to go back to real life which isn’t anywhere near as nice.

There’s a few more factors to Christmas that I have a hard time with (people not putting  a lot of thought into presents and/or not wanting to do anything but watch television) but I won’t go into those because they make me sound ungrateful, plus the biggest hardship I  have is being alone.

But, as I found this year when I discovered Sarah Millican’s #JoinIn on Twitter. I’m alone but I feel my loneliness is superficial when compared to other people’s and so I feel bad for complaining about it when other people have it worse than I do.

Also Christmas finishing brings up some new problems for singletons like myself, mainly New Year. New Year’s Eve is a time when, at midnight, everybody celebrates the New Year and kisses are shared. Even for me and my group of friends who never really put much stock into the whole New Year tradition stuff, even at midnight we would stop what we were doing and they would all share kisses with their partners to celebrate the New Year. It’s little things like that, like being the only person with nobody, that make you wonder about the point of everything.

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say

So this, as I’m finding a lot, is inspired by a video that Shane Dawson recently put out. Say what you want about that man but he knows how to inspire me to write. Anyway, if you haven’t already then you can check out the video here.

So the video is called Confronting My Hater. Without spoiling too much of the video (it’s quite well done and is one of the more intelligent vlogs on YouTube these days) Shane Dawson finds somebody who has criticised his videos and decides to do some research. The person in question is Bobby Burns, a fellow YouTuber, who has critiqued multiple videos. Now this is only part one of I don’t know how many, but the idea is quite sound. At the end of the video you find out that Shane invites Bobby to his house so they can meet face-to-face and talk about things. Bobby accepts the invitation.

But, and now don’t get me wrong because I do like the concept of the video, I’m not sure entirely how I feel.

It’s Bobby that I question in this post (Shane, you’re safe for now, but if you ever want a critique then I’ll be more than happy to write one for you). Basically because Bobby, in his video, comes across quite well informed and researched. His take on Shane’s videos do sometimes stray into personal but the rhetoric Bobby uses is very clever and definitely convinces you to think the same way as he does.

But I question this whole idea of criticism. When I was a child I was raised on the phrase “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That has all gone out of the window in the last few years, especially in the media circuit.

Shane addresses in his video that Bobby does what he does for views. And we can’t blame him for that. I’ve admitted I do what I do for views and attention, Shane has even admitted when he began that he done what he had to for views. It’s the worst kept secret to success really.

But I fear we put too much celebrity on controversial opinions. Bobby Burns gets invited to Shane Dawson’s house and collabs with him on videos just because he voiced a somewhat coherent critique in his videos. I say somewhat coherent because it’s not really backed up with evidence, a lot of it is just pure opinion and Bobby talks about manipulation as if he’s not doing the same thing in his videos. It’s clever, but it’s manipulation. It’s also only somewhat coherent because sometimes, as I’ve said, it strays into personal and that’s rarely constructive.

But this isn’t just Bobby Burns we’re talking about. Think of anybody and everybody who gets famous from criticising people without that criticism being constructive. Bobby Burns tells Shane Dawson to stop, what he should do is tell him what he thinks he should be doing to improve. That’s the difference between constructive and not. Give them something to build on, don’t just tear them down. But Bobby isn’t the only one; Milo Yiannopoulos, Katie Hopkins, Piers Morgan, Kanye West, Ann Coulter. All of these people could make a living based on their negativity and controversial tweets, quotes, words, etc. It’s a world where it’s easier to get noticed for doing something bad than for doing something good. Hell, even the current President of the United States Donald Trump got there because he ran a campaign of hate and controversy.

And so why do I talk about this? Perhaps because it’s an easy way to get famous but it’s at the expense of other people. It’s a culture that rewards the tearing down of others. We’re rewarding non-constructive criticism and then wondering why the world has low self-esteem. We’re giving platforms, views, tweets, videos, to people who can say whatever they damn well please and people are actually giving them the attention they need.

I’ve considered it many times and I honestly don’t know what stops me from doing it. When I readily admit that I do a lot of what I do for attention in the hopes that somebody might hear my cries for help and actually help, why don’t I take the easy road with controversy? Possibly because my need for attention conflicts with my desire to be liked and currently my desire to be liked wins out (although I’m scared of the day that ceases to be).

Also a part of me, as always, writes this out of jealousy. Bobby Burns strings together a somewhat convincing argument and gets invited to meet Shane Dawson while I’m still struggling to get noticed and help whilst being a nice person.

Also, the difference between what I do and what they do, I can actually admit that what I do is for people to notice me. If you proclaim you’re doing it for any other reason than to be controversial or to get attention then you’re wrong. You’re not constructive, you’re just attention seeking. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that, just admit it to yourself.

Why I Do What I Do

So this whole Keaton Jones thing has had me thinking a lot recently. Mainly because it’s been an up and down roller-coaster of a journey with different things coming out each day. But I won’t comment too much on that anymore because we all know where I stand on bullying. All I want to say in regards to the issue is that if Kimberly Jones has created some elaborate hoax or scheme to get gifts and money then there’s a special place in hell for people like her.

But, and keeping with a similar theme, I want to lay my motivations on the table. Think of this as the end hand of Poker and for a long time you’ve been wondering why I’ve been making the moves I’ve been making and doing the things I’ve been doing. Now this is the moment I lay down my cards and tell you.

I do what I do in the hopes that somebody will give me an opportunity. In an earlier post, If Merle Would Sing My Song, I mention how easy it is for one person to change your life. And so I write and record in the hopes that somebody somewhere will want to help me change my life. I’ve reached a stage where I don’t know what to do anymore, I can’t do it on my own and I’m struggling, and so every time I write, publish and/or share, it’s more of a cry for help. I am drowning in the sea and I don’t know what to do anymore, do you call somebody selfish if they ask you to throw them a Lifebuoy to stop them drowning?

But, and here is where I think I differ from the alleged reasons of Kimberly Jones, I don’t want money. I don’t want 55k put into a GoFundMe account in my name. That’s not what I ask at all.

I ask for an opportunity. I ask for a celebrity to share my work because they have a larger following than I do. The doors that can open is huge. I ask for help improving my job opportunities; internships or work experience. I ask for practical life help.

Unashamedly I once wrote to Ellen Degeneres. I could have fabricated any sort of elaborate lie and gone along with it for attention and money and adoration. The fact is that I didn’t. I simply wrote and asked her to consider me for an internship or work experience because that was what I needed at the time and it would have boosted my career prospects monumentally.

I did the same when I tried to contact some YouTubers for interviews. I wanted to get some interview experience and so I got in contact with them. This wouldn’t have been easy for me, it could have meant long drives and stays in hotels, meeting new people and stepping out of my comfort zone, but it was something I was willing to do for the experience and because it meant so damn much to me. As we can guess I heard nothing back, but it didn’t stop me trying.

Why? Well because I truly believe I’ve done as much as I can do on my own. I haven’t made the connections most people make during their teenage years and University days. I don’t have friends in high places that I can call up for favours. It would be great if I could phone up a radio station and say “Hey, remember that time I did work experience for you? Got any work going?” But I can’t. The only work experience I have is two weeks working in a bank, a week working in a shipping company, a month working overseas in Canada (in a castle) and three years of retail.

You see when I was growing up everything was academic. I wasn’t sporty, I wasn’t social and so my way in life was through academics and education. It sucks that we’ve reached a point in life where education barely gets you anywhere anymore and it’s considerably more in favour of practical experience, something that my mental health has prevented me from getting a lot of the time.

This is why viral videos actually hurt me so much and cause me anguish. It is other people getting opportunities that I am trying so hard for. I don’t want to be viral, I just want the opportunity. I saw Calum McSwiggan doing a radio show or interview the other day and I got jealous because he’s been given an opportunity that I wish I had. Why? Did he study journalism to a University degree level? I don’t know but his videos have helped garner him the connections and experience he needs to do what he wants.

And so, now I’m being a bit more clear about things, this is my way of asking for help.

It Gets Better?

“Stay strong, Keaton. Don’t let them make you turn cold. I promise it gets better. While those punks at your school are deciding what kind of people they want to be in this world, how would you and your mom like to come to the Avengers premiere in LA next year?”

So these words were tweeted by Captain America himself, Chris Evans. A great gesture from a character whose sole purpose in creation was to help boost morale with the suggestion that anything is possible. Captain America itself is about a bullied and unfairly treated youth who gets genetically experimented on with the results being that he comes out buff, chiselled and awesome. The origin story itself is the embodiment of the phrase “It Gets Better”.

I get that we have to be supportive and understanding. These are kids we are dealing with, the people that are told they are “too young to be depressed” because they haven’t reached that stagnant point in their life yet. As a child or teenager your everyday should be filled with possibilities and the future should be unknown to anyone and everyone. You haven’t reached your full potential, you’re still growing and you’re still coming to terms with everything. Both biologically and socially you still haven’t reached a stable point in your life and so there is forever the idea that it gets better. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with telling this mantra to children because in a sense it’s true.

There is something bleak about life after your teenage years. This is because your transitional period stops. You are expected to get a job, to find a partner, to settle down, to have a family or to focus on your career. The whole idea of being an adult and living is rooted in the idea of stability, you need a stable job and life in order to earn the money to live. The first question people ask you when they meet you is “so, what do you do?” because everybody is supposed to be at least partially on their way to this long-term ambition.

The part I take exception with in the mantra “It Gets Better” is that it doesn’t address those of us for whom it didn’t get better. It doesn’t account for those us in a dead-end job with no future or career prospects who struggle to leave the house when they relive bullying from years ago in their minds every single day. It doesn’t understand that as a child you are encouraged to be your best and reach your pinnacle but as you grow up you’re expected to settle more and more with each passing year.

My job wasn’t supposed to be long-term. It was supposed to get me away from the job centre whilst also giving me time to focus on writing. As it happens I am coming up for three years at the job with a future that doesn’t seem to change. Why? It can get better, get another job. As a teenager I would have no problems with leaving the job in hopes of a better one, as an adult I know the realism. I know that I’ve spent three years unemployed before this job and who knows how long I’ll spend after it. I know I’m pushing thirty and still living with my parents with absolutely no financial future of moving out. In this instance it doesn’t get better. It either stays the same or it gets worse.

I also know I’m crippled mentally from school. The bullying I experienced didn’t go the way that they tell you in the story. Bullies are alone in dead-end jobs with dull and miserable lives while you skyrocket and become yourself to the fullest potential, surrounded by the best people life can give you. That’s not how it worked. That’s not how it works for ninety-nine percent of the people who experience bullying either. Instead I can’t form a relationship because I’m so paranoid about the way the other person perceives and treats me that it leaves me barely able to leave the house while one of my bullies just has to take his shirt off to make friends.

So what is in store for people like myself? For those that are old enough to understand how life works and know that life doesn’t always get better? Those of us that are realistic enough to know that the good-guy doesn’t always win and the bad-guy doesn’t always lose. Those of us for whom bullying has forced us into a corner and we’re being held there by societies expectations and the threat of joblessness, homelessness, bankruptcy, or a future forever alone. What pearl of wisdom do we get that encourages us to put down the knife or the bottle of pills and actually continue on with life?

In Regards To Keaton Jones

If for one moment you believe I advocate the bullying or belittling of Keaton Jones, or anybody else in the world, then you have failed to receive the message portrayed through most of these posts. With that in mind please keep in consideration that I am firmly on the side of Keaton Jones and do not wish to diminish his bullying because bullying is what it is, it’s poisonous and horrific.

Read the article here.

Now I want to address the fact that this has escalated to physical levels. Nobody gets milk poured over them and school just “doesn’t notice”. I haven’t found any evidence to suggest that the school has acted on this incident but likewise I haven’t found anything to suggest they haven’t and so I can’t judge them on that. What I can say is that Keaton Jones still seems terrified to go back to school. He still doesn’t understand how or why people do what they do and it’s that suggestion that leads me to the belief that the school hasn’t been hard enough. You want ways to run your school, check out my post “If I Ran The School” and you’ll find guidelines for dealing with bullying in there.

So I can’t really say anything more about the actual bullying that hasn’t already been said all over social media. I will, before I proceed any further, commend everybody on their support and outpouring of emotion in a time where this kid probably feels so alone. It’s not often I see so many people agreeing unanimously that something is abhorrent and shouldn’t be tolerated. It should be known that people do stand with Keaton Jones.

But – yes, you knew there would probably be a but – this isn’t a special occasion. This isn’t a rare one-off occurrence and it’s certainly not a new development in the school/education system. Bullying has been around for as long as you can imagine. Sometimes it’s not always as severe as in this case, but any incident where somebody feels unsafe to go somewhere should be treated seriously. Thousands of people are bullied everyday and it’s okay to say it’s not acceptable but to let it get to extreme numbers is just negligence in the system. I know from experience that my school did not take bullying seriously, it just viewed it as a right of passage for kids to go through. Unacceptable.

We shouldn’t look at Keaton Jones’ situation and say “this kid needs help”, we should look at it and say “things need to change”. Not just for Keaton but for everybody else who has ever felt that way. Not everybody has the courage or support system to talk about it so candidly and not every parent would share it on social media. It took me until I was in my mid-twenties to finally talk openly and candidly about the bullying I experienced. Whilst we know I commend the support that this kid has received, let’s not let it just be for those with a voice, let’s give the voiceless the help they need as well.

THIS ARTICLE CONTINUES BUT PLEASE STOP READING HERE AND LEAVE IF YOU AREN’T READY FOR THIS ARTICLE TO GET A LITTLE BIT SELFISH.

I almost didn’t write this bit last bit because it felt odd to say it but the more I thought about it the more I realised how much it was eating away at me on the inside. I’ve always said that I’ll write about things that make me suicidal and affect my mental health, and this is one of them. Not only in the ways listed above, but also in a lot more of a personal way.

As a nearly-thirty-year-old man I mostly get the response of “you should have gotten over it by now” or “don’t let it ruin your life” whenever I talk about my bullying. I have a post on here and a video on YouTube titled “A Message To My Bullies” which was one of the most raw things I have ever written. That video has received 2 views and I fear at least one of those was me re-listening to it. Sometimes I feel like I’m shouting into a void and my words just disappear once they leave my mouth. Sometimes I wonder if what I’ve written is open and available to other people. You know that feeling where you don’t know if a text has been sent or not? And when you realise it has been sent and nobody replied then you have to face the fact that nobody cares.

Do you know how hard it is to spend your entire life feeling worthless and awful only to find that once you share your stories nobody actually cares? That’s sort of what I’m feeling right now. But maybe I should expect it, a cute crying child will always be more marketable and pleasing to the masses than a mentally unhealthy/unstable twenty-eight-year-old.

Self-Harming

This one is actually quite difficult for me to talk about and should definitely come with a warning that it is in regards to some serious mental health issues and any thoughts of this nature should be discussed with a professional.

So I’ve never really talked about self-harm before. That’s because I didn’t do it until I was about 25. I was never a teenager who cut themselves with razor blades and has the scars to prove it. My way of coping, because self-harming is some people’s way of coping with things, was to get lost in fictional worlds of computer games and books. It wasn’t until I was put into a situation where my stress and anxiety levels were through the roof and I had no escape that I did it for the first time.

My first time was at work. Having been unemployed for three years I was having a difficult time adjusting to working and not having as much free time as before. This was compounded by the feeling of insignificance that I felt doing the job and the fact that the overtime felt pressured rather than offered. So, being at work and having to work with customers all of the time, you don’t have half an hour to disappear somewhere for a sleep, video game session or to get lost in a book. You’re stuck. So I started scratching. We’re not talking just a little scratch here and there, I would scratch until my arms bled and there would be friction burns up most of my forearm.

The reasons for this are many-fold and I don’t think self-harming can be specifically boiled down to one particular reason, I think it’s a culmination of a lot of things.

Firstly I felt insignificant and so I sort of felt like I deserved the pain that came with it. I felt like the lowest of the low, with no friends, no future job progression and basically like my life had come to a standstill. For a twenty-something year old I felt like I was a failure because I wasn’t successful (you can see this in other posts about YouTube and Celebrities that I have written).

The second reason was that I was doing it for attention. Not in a “look at me” kind of way, just in a way where I wished somebody would notice and stop me, or take me to one side and talk to me about it. Nobody ever did though. But that was what ran through my head sometimes, that I wished people would pay more attention to me and notice how much pain I’m in.

Another reason was that I felt helpless. With overtime feeling forced it no longer felt like my time was my own. I was permanently paranoid that I’d be called into work and it nagged at my mind. Even when I was at work, the idea that they would approach me and ask me to work overtime felt like they were taking away my free time. My way to respond to this, to have control over something, was to scratch my arm until it bled. It was a strange feeling because it was something I could control, nobody else could make me start or stop, that choice was down to me. It reclaimed a little bit of the freedom that I felt like I had lost.

I must tell you to prepare because this is where my mind gets a little bit warped.

When I was unemployed I would look for ways to be more selective in the kind of jobs I could take. I still wanted a job, I just didn’t want them to be able to send me to work nine-to-five at a dump for zero pay (which is something they actually threatened). And so, along the lines of self-harm, I did consider something more serious than just scratching; I actively considered physically hurting myself until my life became confined to a wheelchair.

Now, this is where it gets warped because I know being in a wheelchair isn’t something to aspire to, but in my head it was. It got me sympathy and the attention that I craved but it also meant my options for work were limited. I could still do stuff I wanted to do, like writing and journalism and stuff, but it meant my range was restricted down a bit more. It was, in a sense, a control issue. If I put myself into a wheelchair then it meant I could control where and when I got a job, and I could make sure I took a job I was happy with, I had legitimate reasons to turn down certain jobs.

It also comes with a little bit of self-pity. If we circle back to my romantic life for just a moment, the idea of being in a wheelchair gave me a reason (in my head, remember) for why I would be eternally single. It would be my excuse for why nobody found me attractive, I had something I could blame rather than the current confusion of not understanding what people don’t like about me.

To show you how fucked up my mind is sometimes, I also considered self-blinding. Yes, a small part of me hoped that like Daredevil I would be great at martial arts with massively enhanced senses, but that’s sort of the child in me still wanting to believe in everything being possible. But no, it gave me a talking point. I’ve spoken before how, outside of being “The Intelligent One”, I don’t know where I fit in, but this gave me a place to fit in. I didn’t have to fit into that box because the blindness would give me that box.

Also, both of these things would give me the ability to provide my mind with the excuses for why I wasn’t rich and successful. It wouldn’t nag on me any longer because it would understand that opportunities are restricted and the chances for blind and/or wheelchair bound people are lesser than an able-bodied person.

I don’t mean to make light of any disabilities, that never was or is my intention, but in my messed up head sometimes I don’t always clearly see the negatives. This is the truth about what went through my head on the occasions I considered it and shockingly enough the negatives were never something I thought about until my mind was in a more sane and healthy place.

If I Ran The School

So it’s probably no secret that I had a hard time at school. The environment at my school, at least through my eyes, was toxic. By the time it came for me to leave secondary school the place had gone downhill with teachers either too afraid or flat out refusing to do anything about any sort of bullying. I once had a chair thrown at me in a classroom where the teacher was watching and all he did was tell the student to “sit down”. That was the extent of the punishment in my school.

We did have these things called conduct marks. Basically you had ten conduct marks each week and every time you misbehaved or broke the rules the teacher could take one away from you (I can’t remember if they gave them out or took them away, but either way it was a tally system). At the end of the week, when you got your Planner signed by your tutor, the amount of conduct marks you had (or had lost) would indicate your punishment; detention or meeting with headteacher usually. The problems here were that tutors were far too lazy to check Planners and so a lot of people got away with misbehaving and no repercussions.

So this is where the title comes in. If I ran the school I would make some changes.

First and foremost everybody would be treated equally. I know teachers try to do this but I’m talking on a wider scale. The drama kids are treated the same as the sporty kids, the same as the arty kids or the DIY kids. It’s all the same. If any achievements are to be celebrated then all of them will. At my school it was far too obvious that sports were favoured over anything else. The assemblies always had sports awards and sports news and stuff about the school sports teams. It was horrific for anybody who wasn’t interested in sports. Do away with that and make everything fair. You talk about the local sport success in assembly? Then you also talk about the viewing for students’ artwork or the auditions for a school play.

The major change I would make is to discipline.

You have three chances in the first phase basically. If somebody puts in a complaint about you misbehaving, breaking rules or bullying then they need to be investigated. If the investigation proves you have misbehaved or broken rules then these are the three-step punishments to be followed.

Step 1 – You receive a warning. (If a severe punishment is needed then you receive detention). (Offer help if the infraction may have been due to a mental health issue or biological problem).

Step 2 – You receive a detention (If a more severe punishment is needed then you receive a suspension).

Step 3 – Suspension.

When you return to school after your suspension then your three chances turn into two.

Step 1 – Detention.

Step 2 – Expelled.

These cover most of the infractions within school boundaries. Bunking off school? Refusing to listen to a teacher? Non-Physical bullying? They are all classed under this scheme.

However, there is an alternate scheme for serious infractions. This category is for use in the case of physical violence (of any sort) or carrying a weapon and other serious issues.

Step 1 – Expelled. The Police will be involved if it would be considered a criminal offence, had it been outside of school property.

Zero tolerance. This is what zero tolerance looks like. It’s expelling people when they need to be expelled.

Follow these rules and the school will be a much better place for those that do want to be there.

But, I hear some people say, these people who were expelled will suffer down the line when they leave school with no qualifications. To that I say “So?” If you cannot be a civilised human being in school towards other students then I have very little sympathy for you. What school doesn’t do now is reinforce consequences. Nowhere will take you if you’ve been expelled from every school in the area because, and rightfully so, you will be seen as trouble.

This is brought on by the fact that I witnessed an awful lot of physical bullying in my school. Not just towards me, although that is the stuff I remember most vividly, but across the entirety of the school. And guess what? Probably only between 1 and 5% of these cases were ever treated seriously. Some of them weren’t reported because they knew teachers wouldn’t do anything and those that were reported were mostly just dismissed after a meeting with parents (which is considerably unhelpful for everybody involved).

Parents don’t currently take it seriously. If this rigid guideline were in place then you know the severity of the infraction because it relates to the punishment. Parents would have to take it seriously when physical violence is seeing their child kicked out of all schools within the area. They will need to take action instead of claiming excuses for their child. Because that’s what we need more of, more action and less talk.

A school needs to start being treated like a workplace. I know that the rules I have suggested are the rules that my company obeys. As such we have zero physical violence, I’m not afraid to go in there in fear of being assaulted and because we understand there are consequences to actions. If we seriously broke rules then we would be looking for another place to work, the same should be said for a school.

Your Success Is Determined By Other People

It’s sometimes difficult to decide what to write on here, given that this is an open forum and it’s read by people who both do and don’t know me. But, I do have a rule that if anything makes me feel suicidal or exceptionally depressed, if it plays on my mind so much that I can’t sleep, then I have to write it down somewhere.

I joined the company that I currently work for in March 2015. After a year of being in the role of General Assistant I decided I wanted to be a Supervisor. Now, I know as well as anybody else that a Supervisor isn’t just a job title you decide you want to be and then voila, it happens. I knew there’d be a lot more to it than just changing the job title. Since a Supervisor’s role wasn’t available, because you have to wait for a current Supervisor to leave before that happens, I wanted to take the time to learn everything a Supervisor does so that when it came to it I was ready to step into the shoes. There was also a time here when a current Supervisor had to go home sick and they had nobody to cover the role, I decided then that I wanted to be the kind of person that could fill the role if a Supervisor ever came down sick.

So they agreed. My manager agreed for me to learn some more things and to run things when Supervisor’s went on their break. This was a big step because it was essentially a brief fill of the Supervisor’s shoes, and it meant they trusted me enough to look after things while the Supervisor had their break. All of the Supervisor’s agreed to this too – we have five – and agreed to show me some of the things that their jobs entail.

Around Christmas 2016 a woman (who shall be known as Sam) joined the company as a replacement for her friend who had moved to a different department.

By this time I was already basically doing what a Supervisor does whenever a Supervisor felt confident enough to leave me in charge. There were certain aspects I wasn’t allowed to do, legally, because they were reserved purely for Supervisors and since I wasn’t technically one yet then I didn’t have the power to do some of their job. But for the most part I could do a lot of things a Supervisor could do.

So I was, in pretty much everything but name, a Supervisor. It actually gave my job a purpose. I was no longer just a simple replaceable cog in a machine, I felt important and like I could help people find solutions to their problems.

Well, over the next few months I found out that Sam had passed an assessment which allowed her onto a Management Trainee scheme. The way the company works, in the most simple way I can put it, is a three-tier system;

  • Manager
  • Supervisor
  • General Assistant

There’s some in between those but for the most part that’s the hierarchy of the company right there.

So Sam was on her Management Trainee scheme and I have to say that I didn’t resent her for being ambitious and going for it. I had become good friends with her and worked with her a lot and she did take on a hell of a lot of workload so it wasn’t like she didn’t try hard. I also didn’t feel threatened either, what with her being on a Management Trainee scheme, this meant she was looking for a job above me anyway and she’d need to transfer stores to do her placements and such. None of this would impact on my progression into a Supervisor role.

Only, as you can probably guess, it did impact it. It’s impacted it a lot. But, and this is very important, I do not blame Sam.

Once the Supervisor’s found out she was going for this role then she became, in essence, the Star Pupil. She was suddenly the one covering breaks and running the show whenever there was an available time. She was being shown all the things I had been shown and I didn’t have a problem with this, it would have been nice to have somebody who could help me out if I ever did step into the Supervisor shoes on a more permanent basis.

Well a few weeks ago I noticed that she had been given power over and above me. She was now able to do every aspect of a Supervisor role, even those things I was told that legally I wasn’t able to do. Even though she didn’t have the job title, and she was still a General Assistant like myself, she was able to do anything and everything a Supervisor would do. And they didn’t mind this. They were willing to show her things that had previously been off-limits to me because I wasn’t important enough in the company. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see a Supervisor say “Sam, can you do this.” Despite the fact that she technically shouldn’t have had the power to do so.

So this carried on for a while and, whilst my role wasn’t growing exponentially, it wasn’t getting any smaller. I still had my borderline Supervisor role and was still called upon to run things from time-to-time (although not as often as Sam, of course).

Well this week one of the Supervisors decided that too many people had Supervisor Numbers (basically the power that I had) and that she would need to go through and cull everybody that didn’t need them. I didn’t worry, as somebody being trained up to be a Supervisor, I was assured to keep my number the same.

Nope.

Within seconds I was down to a mere peon in the company with no more power than somebody who had joined that very day. In fact there were people who have worked at the company for less than six months that were allowed to keep their Supervisor Numbers.

I do actually resent this. As somebody who had spent over a year training to be a Supervisor, I was now back to square one all because the Supervisor’s had decided that too many people have too much power (a fact that they are ultimately responsible for, yet we get punished for).

So now I can’t do half of the things I was able to do. No more running things when they are on their breaks because I don’t have the power. I don’t have the authority to overrule certain things on the computer system because my number is basic and only has basic powers.

Things get a little bit worse now because twice Supervisor’s have gone home sick and Sam has been asked to step in and take their shift in running things. That was what I was training for, what I wanted to be able to do. But now, not only was I having my power redacted, I was also being overshadowed by somebody who hadn’t been training as long as I had. The only reason she was able to do it was because it felt like they had devoted more time and effort into teaching her than they had teaching me. Teaching me was “if we have time to teach you” whereas because she was on this course it meant that her teaching was “we will make time for you”.

And so now I’m back to square one in the company with this taste of bitterness in my mouth from where I tasted the champagne of the next floor up, only to have it snatched away and be kicked back down in favour of somebody else.

I don’t honestly know what to do any more. When I found out she was running things tonight I was seething with anger because  I had been kicked down and she was being raised up. I felt useless and pathetic, like why bother even trying with things when your life, and your success in life, is in the hands of other people. Now, if a Supervisor position comes up, Sam will get it. Not because she’s been training longer than me, despite the fact I’ve got almost a year and a half on her in the job, but just because her training is “official” and they’ve devoted more time and effort to training her and helping her. Some people may be thinking “don’t worry, she’s going for Management, she won’t go for Supervisor when it comes up” but this suggests she can’t go for Management if she goes for Supervisor. She can and she will. And she’ll receive all the help she needs to get there.

(Oh, and before you say “why didn’t you get yourself on a trainee scheme”, I was already being trained up before the scheme came around and nobody told me it was management trainee, it was just advertised as “giving you options”).