Just before moving I got a thirty-day trial subscription to YouTube Red so I could watch its new show, Cobra Kai, which is a drama series with lots of lighthearted humor that follows the lives of characters from the original three Karate Kid films starring Ralph Macchio. Centering on the bully from the first movie, Johnny Lawrence, the story takes place largely from his perspective as he seeks redemption and tries to rebuild the karate dojo of which he was a part more than thirty years ago. It’s surprisingly well written and although there’s a lot of nostalgia built into the series, it always takes care to respect the material.
One scene, wherein Johnny is informed by one of his new students that she is mercilessly teased online by the school bullies, shows his thoughts on the subject of cyber-bullying: he thinks it’s for pussies. As far as Johnny Lawrence is concerned, if you want to bully someone, you do it with honor by doing it to his or her face, not cowering behind a monitor under the perceived safety of anonymity.
There’s a sort of warped logic to that: although cyber-bullying is real and has real consequences, the fact remains that the only ones who engage in it are rank cowards who are so terrified of physical confrontation that they can’t even self-identify lest their victims learn who they are and put them in their proper place at the very bottom of the proverbial social pecking order.
Bullying in any form is the hallmark of cowards and wimps, scumbags who could never take on anyone who is their equal and certainly no one who is their superior, so they lash out at those they perceive as being weaker.
Looking back at my life, I realize that those who have relentlessly bullied me are and always were cowards, “spineless loseres” as William Zabka’s character puts it. They are and will always be nothing else, because they lack the courage to face their victims on equal terms and let the chips fall where they may. No, to do that would be to to take a risk, something no coward can ever do because he or she cannot be confident of outcomes that aren’t 100% guaranteed in his or her favor. That’s why the age of the Internet has been so good for bullies too scared of risking an ass-beating to do it face-to-face. The perceived safety of anonymity allows them to attack without risk, to operate under the cover of Mommy and Daddy’s Wi-Fi, free from ever having to face any consequences for their depravity.
There was a time when bullies had to take the risk of being stood up to and beaten by their victims because there was no other alternative. Now, however, they’re weaker and more cowardly than ever, and so they’ve had to shift tactics by waging psychological abuse—physical confrontation is just too much for them to handle.
If it weren’t for the ability of cyber-bullies to drive some of their victims to suicide, it would be a joke. In fact, it is a joke, albeit one that never was and never shall be even remotely funny. But once one realizes just how weak and stupid cyber-bullies really are, their power fades away and all that’s left for them is impotent whining on the Internet as people just stop paying them any attention.