The Problems with 13 Reasons Why as Stated in One Reason

Isolation.

Reaching out has failed me.

Remember that message I sent you asking for help and your response was to get over myself?

Remember when I confided in you via text, I wasn’t feeling like myself, so you told someone else I barely know to respond to my concerns and have not spoken to me since?

What about that other time when I unloaded in a Facebook group and months later saw a job posting you had posted. I was curious and you said no because of how I had unloaded.

Oh and that time when I opened up and you told me to go kill myself or you sent an email telling me I was desperate and pathetic.

Let’s also not forget that I was spoken about in a political group, “people actively avoid her” “She really does suck” “What did she do wrong?”

“You have an eating disorder.”

“You suck.”

“You need to die.”

“You’re not worth it.”

“Desperate.”

“Pathetic.”

These have all been said to me by different people. I’ve been isolated, ostracized, ignored, excluded with no reason ever given to me as to why I was treated that way, why I was cast aside, why I wasn’t worth a friendship.  I have wondered what would happen if I disappeared, vanished.

I never had the luxury of thirteen tapes but my thirteen reasons would ultimately be thirteen reasons……you just don’t get it. 13 Reasons Why…..I won’t be broken down.

But 13 Reasons Why is about teenagers. About the angst of those teen years and that is worrisome.

13 Reasons Why is problematic.  It is a story about Hannah Baker who tells the reasons of her suicide through thirteen tapes. These tapes explain about how she was raped, how she was ignored, how the school counselor broke many ethical rules. The most glaring being that he let Hannah Baker leave the office despite some very bright red flags. If someone seems suicidal, you don’t let them leave. That’s one of the first things they teach you when you’re getting a Masters in Marriage and Family counseling.

13 Reasons Why shows suicide as trendy. Look, you can make all these cool tapes! Look, you can make it a thing! It’s not trendy and should never be made into a thing. The root of it also being the time it took to make those tapes. It must have taken awhile. To go to each spot, to remember each moment and there were no consequences. Nothing happened to the guy, Bryce, who raped both Hannah and Jessica and where did Justin go after he bailed on the hearing and did Jessica ever go to rehab? This was meant to show bullying, to show the cruelty of others and apparently show clueless adults.

When you’re truly at rock bottom, wondering where the next step is or if your next step is worth taking, you don’t have time for thirteen tapes. You drink, you eat, you search desperately for that one person who will stick with you at your worst. The friend who will stick by you and not drop you when times get rough or when you aren’t acting in a way that’s considered “socially acceptable”.  You sit and stare at social media pages wondering why you can’t be as happy as those Instagram and Facebook posts. The world seems darker, isolated and there’s a not thought of tapes. No one giving thoughtful explanations of why they’re choosing this path.

Hannah Baker’s story is a story. It’s work of fiction. It’s not glamorous to feel lost. It’s not thirteen tapes of interesting. Teenagers often think in hyperboles. Hannah Baker was clearly was one of those teenagers and her story was that way, told through the eyes of a teenager. Her life to her was out of control but there were moments in the present, moments where we could have gotten truth but we didn’t. We could have gotten the other side to the story. All we got was that the hyperbole was correct. That the counselor didn’t do his job. That the school didn’t do its job. The adults didn’t do their jobs. Through the series, now airing on Netflix, we are living the world of a teenager. We’re living a hyperbolic world and we need something steady. Someone to be the grown up, yet that never comes.

13 Reasons Why is asking you simply to believe those thirteen reasons as truth and yes, there is truth. People act strangely sometimes in ways you don’t get.  I remember being perplexed by a friend who ended our friendship because I insulted the color of her oatmeal. I was most perplexed as to why it was okay for her to be and continue to remain friends with people who would discuss openly how she went out of herself look unattractive. I am still confused as to why criticizing oatmeal was the far more offensive action? Sometimes things just don’t make sense but the problem with a television show depicting loneliness, suicide, isolation is the viewer wants sense to be made. They want consequences even though sometimes there are none and when a teenager is in pain, a teenager is struggling, there is a need for people to be held accountable.

This also makes 13 Reasons Why dangerous.

People who are struggling don’t make tapes. They don’t have the clarity to do that. People who are clouded by emotion and pain, act from impulse. Hannah Baker’s suicide is not an impulse. It’s a long, thought out act, carefully orchestrated which in a way makes her actions incredibly selfish and makes the people around her seem cold and uncaring.

Suicide is a desperate act. It’s an act that should not be made trendy. It’s when you feel you have no other option and no one is listening. Those silent screams become painfully loud.

I question this story. I question the impact and I hope that it raises even more questions.

The importance of the role of the school counselor?

Consequences?

The help should be there. Should be provided. The hand extended and this show should not be used as a blueprint.

Adults need to pay more attention. We need to set better examples. Be kinder to each other and don’t say the words, show the actions. A text. A message. A random compliment. You never know the impact.

Maybe we need to look at 13 Reasons Why through a different lens. 13 Reasons why we need to just check in. 13 Reasons to not ignore someone. 13 Reasons to not blow someone off. 13 Reasons to engage in conversation, discuss feelings, discuss emotions instead of running away, leaving the person to wonder their worth.

Maybe the problem with 13 Reasons Why isn’t just that it glorifies pain. Maybe the problem is that we aren’t asking the questions.

So maybe I’ll start….for whoever is reading this:

How are you?

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