I feel the need to address the reaction to the last column before moving on to this weeks’ subject.  When I decided to write about starting a movement, what I anticipated was that some people would leave comments at the bottom saying “yeah…that’s a pretty good idea, you should do that.”  I figured I’d read a couple of those and think “it is a pretty good idea, I’ll have to do that one of these days.”  What I got was to be perfectly honest pretty overwhelming. 

The column went up Saturday morning, March 31, I got online about noon that day and the emails had already started coming in, not from rock stars but from you guys. From New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Cleveland, Chicago, London. Not saying “good idea” but saying “how soon is this starting and I want to be involved as soon as possible.”  I was returning emails for the next eight hours.  And then I called Mike Costello (the co-conspirator) and said “uh…dude…we need a name for this like…now.”  The next day got even weirder. 

Ronnie Radke emailed me, he wants to be involved. And then the following Tuesday, Austin Carlile, he loves the idea too.  A mother and daughter in Baltimore have a little bracelet company called Naturally Torn, they have already offered to make two bracelet designs with some of the proceeds going to the movement to help us finance things.  And a very cool clothing company agreed to sponsor it, I’m still waiting on their confirmation email so I won’t give them any free press just yet.  The only conclusion I can draw is that not only is this needed, but it turns out it’s wanted. Well, that or that dude from the History channel saying “Aliens!”…I’m pretty sure it’s not aliens.   A little inspiration later and we came up with The (R)Evolve Movement. We grabbed the domain, some email addresses, a twitter and now I’m trying very hard to decipher the legal paperwork for how to start a 501(c)(3) non-profit entity.  I don’t speak legalese. It’s like Greek.  Crap.  We’ll figure it out.  If I haven’t thanked the crew at Alternative Press before, I’m doing it now.  For giving me a soapbox, supporting the column and for helping us make this happen.  This is going to be really cool.

As much as I could (and would) like to talk about the movement more I do need to throw a topic out there in my ill-fated attempt at helping people so we’ll make an awkward segue into this weeks’ column.  It’s about the whole concept of ‘bullyism.’ Or what I like to call “why do some people suck so bad?”  It appears to be getting more extreme these days.  Verbal/Physical/Emotional/Cyber, it’s all the same thing.  And if you’ve been the victim of it, I have news for you.  It has absolutely nothing to do with you. 

How many well-adjusted, happy people do you know that purposely go out of their way to make others feel like crap about themselves?  Yeah…I don’t know any either.  And that’s the kicker.  Bullies hate themselves. 

I came up with a theory that’s going to sound a little scientific, but it actually makes sense.  Anybody pay attention in Chemistry class? Okay, me neither but follow me here, you’re going to get this.  The property of diffusion is when you introduce two different fluids with different densities into each other.  They ‘diffuse’ or…well…the denser one gets less dense and the less dense one gets denser until they meet in the middle or ‘equilibrium’ (that’s the place in the middle).  It has to do with physics, it’s just how things work.  So here’s the theory: what if emotions work the same way? You ever notice how when you hang out with positive people you tend to walk away feeling pretty good? And when you hang out with jerks you end up anxious and depressed?  Yeah…that’s emotional diffusion and equilibrium. You introduce one jerk-off into a group of cool people and the average coolness goes down a couple of points.

So, since you’ve all heard that misery loves company, let’s extrapolate.  People that are miserable, consciously or unconsciously, are trying to get everyone around them on the same level, it’s the diffusion.  Same thing for positivity, you know that guy? The really funny guy? Every time he walks in the room or shows up at the party everybody kind of lights up and everybody gets a little happier? Yeah, that’s the diffusion too.

What if the people that feel like crap about themselves don’t know how to feel better? What if they don’t have any coping skills either?  What if they discovered that by putting someone down it makes them feel a little better? Granted that’s the crappiest most douche-tastic way of feeling better but it suddenly sheds some light on the motive behind it.  Personally I’d much rather go head to head with a knife wielding crackhead in an alley than a girl from high school.  Those girls are mean. 

It’s been my experience that most bullies have relatively abusive parents.  These things don’t happen in a vacuum, they always come from somewhere. It’s also another reason why sometimes when parents are contacted about their kids’ behavior there is no reaction or an angry one from the parents. It’s a vicious cycle. 

The reason I’m coming at this from the angle of the ‘bully’ is because the reality is it’s much easier to have compassion for someone that’s sick when you understand where they’re coming from.  And once you’ve got compassion for the person, their words won’t have the impact that they used to.  The bullying ceases to have any power over you.  Because you’ve changed.  Keep in mind at all times that no one can make you feel badly about yourself without you giving them permission. 

People that are different tend to get singled out and picked on.  My take was always that anyone that had the courage to stand out had my respect.  It takes a lot of faith in yourself and a pretty strong sense of self to be an individual, now more than ever.   And the reality is that the very same courage to be different is a threat to people that don’t have that characteristic.  So they’re going to try to get you down to their level.  Don’t let people take up space in your head rent free. 

And something tells me that if you read this magazine and like the bands that get covered in it, you’re different.  Keep it up.  The reality is that except in some extreme cases that negative stuff that happens to you in your teens and early twenties will have very little impact on you later in life. It gets better, it always gets better.

Dave Sherman