For Felicia: Forget “Karma,” Have Some Compassion
by Jake Maxmin (guest author) | The Watershed School, 2013
This past weekend I was angered and distraught over something I saw on my favorite social networking site, Reddit. I saw multiple posts and conversations that made my stomach turn over. I became sick and so angry and confused that I couldn’t function. I cannot help but feel like it is my duty write about my outrage, and to share the story of one young woman.
Last Wednesday, a young girl committed suicide. Her name was Felicia Garcia, and she was 15 years old when she threw herself in front of a train. Garcia was an orphan. Her parents passed away, leaving her and her brothers in the foster care program. Garcia went from foster home to foster home, separated from her brothers for most of her life. Students at Garcia’s school had been passing around a sex tape of her having consensual sex with four of the school’s varsity football players. We live in a culture where mass media, the internet, and social networking have the potential to make our mistakes visible to the world, and this poor girl could not handle it. So she jumped in front of a train.
Now, heartless people on social media sites are perpetuating the same type of behavior that pushed Felicia to the edge. We should all call attention to this atrocious tragedy and raise awareness to stop bullying.
As I scrolled through Reddit on Saturday morning, the jokes about Garcia began to roll in — and my anger began to build. These posts degraded the humanity of a young girl: allusions to sex trains, pictures of literal trains, and memes with photos of Felicia and a football team photoshopped together. Images of Felicia crossed with trains and such captions as “I’d hit that” literally made my stomach churn with anger. Who do we think we are?
These people were doing the same thing that Felicia’s peers did to bring her to a point of deciding to end her life. It’s apparent that Reddit is just as much a popularity contest as any high school. Who gets the most Karma? Whose posts are liked the most? “Oh! People think it’s funny to make fun of a 15-year-old girl who just jumped in front of a train?” “Well,” says the average Redditor, “I shall do it for the Karma. Give the people what they want.” The average Redditor just goes with the flow. They don’t speak up, and they don’t say it’s wrong. And that’s exactly what the kids at Felicia Garcia’s high school said. “Oh, they want to see the sex tape? Sure, give the people what they want.” Or “Did you hear about Felicia? She is such a slut!”
Felicia Garcia was bullied to death. And now, after her tragic end, the bullying continues.
Where were the students that said “Hey! What are you thinking?” Where were the kids who said, “Enough is enough”? Where was the student who stands up for the victim, who stands up to the bully? Where are these kids in real life? Do they even exist?
What have we done as a nation to cultivate a society that would be so blatantly ignorant of the lines of right and wrong? Have we, as Americans, produced a generation of bullies? A generation of selfish, indifferent American idiots?
How gutless are we as a nation if, even as the girl’s funeral is going on, we continue the same behavior that caused her death. What if this was your daughter? Your sister? Your niece, aunt, or mother? Would you care then? Would we stand up and fight back then?
The problem with this country is that we aren’t connected. We don’t feel a connection to fellow Americans, let alone fellow humans. Felicia deserved compassion, deserved to have someone stand up for her, and she still does.
I wish I could have been there for Felicia. I wish I could have made a difference at her school and in her life. But now I know that I need to make some changes in mine. For starters, I can’t bring myself to look at Reddit without a feeling of disgust — disgust for the rat race of popularity that throws compassion out the window, disgust for the rat race of life that makes us strive to get ahead at the price of, in some cases, a human life. In this case, the life of a 15-year-old girl- a beautiful girl who was lost, orphaned, and forgotten. It is a sad state of affairs when we don’t care who we hurt, just as long as — at the end of the day — I have more Karma then you. Because the kind of “Karma” that involves degrading a young girl’s life to get laughs is not the kind of karma I want to have anything to do with.