The “It Gets Better” campaign has good intentions, but lack legitimacy and realistic goals concerning ostracized young adults. Columnist and author Dan Savage created the campaign in response to increased attention on the bullying of LGBT youth.
With videos, news about gay rights and the goal to raise awareness about suicide and bullying, IGB is a great resource for individuals, LGBT or not, looking for support in a time of uncertainty and isolation. Although it is specifically targeted toward LGBT individuals, many of the viral videos created due to the campaign can apply to anyone who faces opposition.
While IGB does demonstrate that more people are becoming accepting of the gay community, there are still plenty of people who are not (U.S. presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum comes to mind). Instead of painting a picture that one day, no one will be discriminated against due to orientation, IGB should offer advice on how to live despite intolerance.
Celebrity endorsements from individuals like performer Lady Gaga and companies like Dreamwork Animations have made this campaign Internet famous, but how effective will IGB be in actually changing anything? It has become popular to appear as an informed activist, but few people do anything besides “like” a tragic story on Facebook to show they care, even when they do not.
This is very similar to the situation with Kony 2012, which is a great opportunity for people to get involved, if they actually got involved. At a party recently, I actually heard a girl bragging that she knew about Kony two years ago.
It’s a bit sickening that people are using current events and tragic world news to win a popularity contest. Instead of actually caring about an issue and devoting time to it, people simply acknowledge that they have heard about it to seem like an activist.
The connection here is that people might post IGB video links online, but this is not changing legislation that promotes equal rights. The people who make change in the world are the ones who are writing letters, speaking with representatives, donating money to legitimate charities and volunteering time – not those posting links on social media sites.
YouTube’s famous Kingsley, made a good point in his “It Gets Better” video, saying, “People are talking about a world or time where everyone is going to be accepting and tolerant… while that is cool about to dream about and hope, realistically, that isn’t going to happen any time soon.”
Kingsley goes on to say that youth need to be prepared for real life, and realize that not everyone is going to treat others in a respectful manner. Bullying is a problem for many people, whether it be due to race, class, gender, sexuality, style or anything else separating people from one another.
To this day, racism, sexism and general prejudice runs rampant, even if it has decreased in the past few decades. LGBT individuals will also continue to experience opposition due to sexuality, just because no one will ever lead a perfect life.
One Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, jumped off of a bridge after finding he had been videotaped engaging in sexual activity with another man, according to The Washington Post. Fourteen year old Jamey Rodemeyer also committed suicide after experiencing bullying.
These two young men both made IGB videos prior to taking their own lives.
In light of the recent suicides and stories of bullying from LGBT youth, children need to learn how to live life with confidence. Instead of comforting them by saying “it gets better,” we should begin to say “you are strong enough to survive.”
It might not get better tomorrow, next month or next year, but this should not discourage anyone. We all have the power to become confident and shut out negativity or opposition. We must do whatever makes us happy instead of what makes us accepted, until we are accepted.