Publish Date: September 4, 2012
Order From: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: A lonely obese boy everyone calls "Butter" is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death-live on the Internet-and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn't go through with his plans? With a deft hand, E.J. Lange allows readers to identify with both the bullies and the bullied in this all-consuming look at one teen's battle with himself.
Guest Post: Do you feel there has been an increase/change in bullying due to the cyber age or just greater awareness due to tragic events?
Bullying has become a hot topic in the news in the past decade, but it’s certainly not “new.”
I can’t say if there has been an increase in bullying due to the cyber age, but I’m certain the internet has changed the shape of bullying. The internet provides a barrier that allows people to be cruel with anonymity, and it dehumanizes the victims, because for too many people, watching cruelty play out online looks a lot like watching it on our TV. It becomes entertainment instead of reality. The internet makes it too easy to forget there is a real person on the other end of the connection.
The internet has also become a virtual playground. I know when I was a kid, recess was that scary hour of the day when teachers weren’t watching as closely, and the bullies could get away with a lot more stuff. Now, there’s an authority-free playground available 24 hours a day. I don’t know that there are more bullies than ever before, but I do think the cyber age has opened up opportunities for the people who would have been bullies anyway.
I also think there has been a surge in awareness of bullying. It’s no longer something that’s swept under the rug and merely tsk-tsked by well-meaning adults. It’s now considered an epidemic and a real threat to our children and our society at large. I am a TV news journalist, and from where I sit in the newsroom, I can tell you what may seem like an increase in bullying is really just an increase in news coverage. Prior to the shooting at Columbine, a story about teens and bullying would rarely – I’d venture to say never – make the news.
One massive tragedy can take a largely ignored issue and suddenly put it directly in the line of the big media laser pointer. The thing is, the media interest in bullying never waned after Columbine, because once it was in the spotlight, there was no shortage of stories to tell. And the social media boom only added more fuel to the fire, as it expanded that virtual playground I mentioned above.
I don’t know if the “issue” of bullying will ever fade back into the shadows of society’s big concerns, but I do think cruelty will always be part of our world, because – for better or worse – that’s one part of human nature. What’s important right now is that we seize the moment – this great big moment when people are actually paying attention to bullying – and use it to educate the next generation about kindness. That way, even if it stops being a “hot topic,” we’ll still be one generation closer to a kinder world.