I started my day as I usually do
A fresh pot of brewed coffee. Then I log into my computer and check my system for viruses and open my browser. I click on Yahoo! Answers to begin what was at that time supposed to be a normal day … answering people’s random questions and doing the best I could to provide fast and accurate information.
Every now and then I search for the latest or more recent questions which are highly random and I scroll down the list of questions until I find one I think merits my immediate attention. But nobody prepared me for this.
It was a person who was being bullied at their school.
They were desperate and lonely. They were looking for some kind of help. When I completely read the question, it dawned on me that it was a person seriously considering taking his or her own life. For this reason I can not and will not give out the details. It’s just that the way I felt about it, I was the one person that stood between another person in despair living or dyeing from what I would type into the computer to try to give them an ounce of hope from their frustration and hopelessness!
When a person cries out for help like this, seconds count. You don’t have time to do a tracer route or visual route of their I.P. Address. The message was basically as follows: The person who I refer to as the Asker said they were being picked on at school. The fact was they had very low self esteem and were dealing with daily accounts of bullying and being treated like an outcast. But I know a little bit about this. I too was bullied at school at times and I also had low self image.
The Asker asked, “I can’t talk about it to my parents. They are never at home. I am basically ignored by them. I spend most of my time in my room, playing video games. I have tried talking to some of my friends at school but they say it’s just no big thing and that all I needed to do was to pretend they didn’t matter or challenge them to a fight after school. This isn’t my way. I am basically a peaceful person and I just don’t have a lot of friends. I just don’t seem to fit in.” (note: this is not an exact word for word account)
The way I approached this was that I admitted that bullies are not good people and they pick on those who can’t defend themselves. I told the Asker to realize that he was a good person and that nobody deserves to be treated that way. I admitted I kind of hated most of school because of the trouble makers and bullies I had to deal with when I was a student. The thing you need, I told the Asker is to find some real friends, the kind of friends who won’t judge you by your appearance or the way you dress or how much your dad makes or if you’re on the football team or the chess club or one of the most popular students in the entire school. Spend time doing things you enjoy that don’t involve solitude. “But, if you choose to play video games there are a few on line that are interactive so you can actually challenger other users while you participate in role playing games and many on line games are non violent and cost nothing to join.”
I suggested to the Asker to get help from a friend or a relative and to try to get involved in activities like volunteering for the food bank or taking up a part time job as a paperboy or join a gym and start with basics or take up tennis. But in the back of my mind I thought this might all be well and good but when a person is serious about taking their own life, even if they are not actually planning on it but if they sound like it and they seem to have no outlet and you are there and nobody else is, it can be a highly stressful event.
It was for me. I answered the Asker the best way I knew how and when I realized nobody did any folllow-up answers I could only hope and pray that some of my answers were positive enough to prevent something truly terrible from happening.
Many people think it’s okay to answer any question as if it was being randomly posted by a computer rather from a meaningful human being. By that I mean, to answer a question of any kind you have to have some kind of moral compass. Some kind of leadership. That’s why I think I have succeeded more than failed on Yahoo! Answers. I try to be open and honest and answer the random questions as if it were a member of my family asking them. By showing empathy and compassion you get better Karma. You have a clear conscience.
People ask some silly questions sometime, sure, you bet! But, sooner or later, like life, you get a curve ball sent your way and you have to be ready for it. Ready to take someone’s life in your own virtual hands.
It don’t happen every day in Yahoo! Answers, but when it does it can put a new perspective on social media that can impact your life and others for years to come.