“KYS” (Kill Yourself) — Another Phrase in the Bad Word Bullying Revolution
There is a three-letter epidemic spreading through the halls of BHS. It is flowing out the windows of the school, zipping around the internet and flying through texts. It is “KYS”, an acronym for “kill yourself”, a new and wildly popular insult.
When asked why he so frequently tells people to “KYS themselves” (mind you, not even proper grammar, ‘kill yourself themselves?’) Student A claims that he, “knows he doesn’t actually want people to kill themselves, are you stupid? It’s just three letters, [he] can do what [he] want[s].” When Student B was asked the same question, he responded with, “Everybody else says it, so I can too.” Though these arguments may seem viable to some, common logic refutes these “justifications.”
When looked at from a broader perspective, one can see that “KYS” is just a phase in the bad word revolution. This revolution is sweeping the internet, spreading newly developed insults at a rapid pace. The insults evolve, becoming more horrendous with each revolutionary strike. When searching through the ‘tweets’ of Beachwood Students, I gathered nearly 50 “KYS” tweets targeted at other Beachwood students in the first two accounts I searched. It was devastating how quickly the evidence accumulated. My interviews show that the perpetrators of the revolution all claim they do not really mean for people to end their lives, they just want to insult people. “It’s no big deal.”
It is a big deal. The rates of teen suicide are higher than ever. Due to the rapidity of the internet and social networking, instantaneous and offensive remarks can be sent freely with the click of a button. The degradation of moral values is evident. Students are valuing how they appear on the internet and the quality of their insults over both the happiness of others and the self-esteem of people who are not in their tiny universes of obligation.
Just a few years ago, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) determined suicide to be the “third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24”, accounting for 34,598 deaths in 2007 alone. According to a study at Yale University, victims of bullying (online or in person) are between 2 and 9 times more likely to commit suicide, and I imagine that the number would only rise if the bullying became an onslaught of children suggesting suicide. It is clear that suicide is not a joke, death is not a funny insult to chortle about, nor is joking about it a means for an increase in popularity.
The apparently “joking” insult of KYS has in turn killed something that used to be a very near and dear value. The idea of ‘individuality’ is somewhere above us, slaughtered by a slice of today’s teens, who showed poor old ‘individuality’ no mercy.
Why would someone say something so sadistic and horrendous? This question could be answered with a look into the concept of conformity. According to a nonscientific cafeteria survey, a large percentage of the impressionable adolescent beings who attend BHS admit to striving to “fit in” in this materialistic school, buying certain socks and clothing as an external loss of the battle with conformity. Now, the clothing is not enough. The attitude must be emulated, the senior boys set a phrase (such as “KYS”) and it snowballs to the grades below.
Deep down, it is hard to conceive that all of these kids wish death upon others. On the surface, it is easy to believe that the boys are simply emulating a disrespectful and untouchable attitude in attempt to better coalesce with their peers. The problem lies with the metaphorical death of moral values, the murder of the self esteem of others and the slaughtering of the ‘individual’.
Those students who do not conform, do not give up their personalities, or do not pick up the offensive, slang way of speaking are often shunned, deemed strange, or targeted with the insult themselves. If they fight back, they generally end up losing an arm and a leg full of self-esteem.
This begs the question: are these boys so wrong, or has high school come so far as to pose the ultimatum of ‘fit in or stay out’? A possible answer lies right at the center of BHS: a preppy, entitled microcosm of the teenage-universe. At BHS, 9 out of 10 students in the cafeteria possess an iPhone, version 4 and up. The social networking is instant, if something embarrassing or “hilarious” occurs in one class, you can safely bet that the rest of the school will be alerted within the next 3-5 minutes.
Are the people so wrong to succumb to society and join the bad word revolution in attempt to live free of ridicule? It depends on how willing a person is to fight. There still is hope that one of the “KYS” supporting conformists will break free, they will just need to stay strong and risk the side effects of a “social suicide” that would be unfortunately bound to occur in our reality.