I recently uploaded an app called “Anime Amino.” It’s a social community for anime fans – mostly teens and mostly those who enjoy Black Butler, Fairy Tail, Naruto, and the like. To engage the community, I asked this question in the discussion section:
Have you ever been bullied for being an otaku?
I didn’t intend to share the results anywhere in particular (you’ll note that the responses and questions aren’t really set up survey-style), but the response was so great that I thought I’d share. Part my work has to do with bullying, as well, and I believe the topic of bullying has an important association with Christian life.
As of the writing of this post, 101 individuals responded to the question posed. Most (90) were teenagers, with a few younger than 13 and a few older than 19. About 2/3 were female.
When I posted this question, I was hoping for a smattering of soulful responses. Instead, I got way more responses than I anticipated, but only a few serious, detailed ones, which was perhaps more in line with what I should have expected. Still, it was great to get so much feedback – about half of the respondents, 49, said they had been bullied. I determined that of those, 20 were almost certainly bullied, according to the definition of the term; 2 were not and 27 were undetermined.
Here’s a good definition of bullying:
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.
And so, what did I learn from all the responses and anecdotes? First, bullying of adolescents because of their identification as otaku seems to be a significant issue. No one presented a story that involved dangerous violence, but the fact that 49 kids on this small app said they were bullied is significant enough. And I think this is a pretty new phenomenon – of the six adults who responded, only one said they had been bullied. Meanwhile, 50.5% of those of school age said they were.
The responses to bullying were interesting, too. I divided responses into two categories: positive or aggressive. Positive responders dealt with bullying in recommended ways:
- Avoiding the bully
- Ignoring the bully
- Standing up and then walking away
- Telling an adult
- Stopping the activity that the bully focused on
Notice the last point – stopping what you’re doing. Although it may seem like a weak response that stomps on freedom of expression, it’s worth considering stopping some things that attract bullying, and at least consider stopping some actions, if not all. For instance, the girl quoted below might just want to stop singing J-pop on the bus and yelling “BAKA!” at people:
I say “No!!!!! IT’S JAPANESE!!!! BAKA BAKA BAKA BAKA BAKA!!!!” and they ran away…then on the bus me and my otaku BFF were singing in Japanese and all the 8th graders started making fun of us and talking bad about us….yeah I always get called a freak and stuff…
Aggressive responses were just that – name-calling in return and violence, for example.
Most respondents didn’t provide enough information to fit into either category, but of those that did, almost twice as many were aggressive rather than positive, like this humorous individual:
But I hit a boy with my pencil case across the head and kicked him a lot!
Others seem to be going through their chuunibyou stage:
I don’t know how many times I had to give them 1000 years of pain.
To be fair, though, all of the respondents did respond at least somewhat positively since they shared their experience on the app. And certainly, a number responded in very healthy ways:
…I learned a few years back that if I’m having fun doing whatever I’m doing it doesn’t really matter what those people say!
People have tried bullying me in the past, but they kinda gave up when they realised I didn’t care about what they thought at all…they tend to leave you along if you just act completely apathetic towards them.
Some acted in a mixture of ways:
People sneer at us everyday but we shrug, smile and secretly think of ways in which they could die! You know by death note and all that!
You may have noticed the words “us” and “we” in that last quote. A connecting thread among many of these young people was they dealt with bullying and name-calling through community:
The fact of the matter is I was picked on but ive got the best people on my side and I have our community, our ‘world’ standing next to me!
…it doesn’t really bother me, since some of my friends share my passion so that we can be weirdos together 😉
And perhaps that’s a great lesson on which to leave this piece. As bullying perhaps becomes more unrelenting than ever, teens may be best able to move past it by banding together with friends. And that’s the purpose of community – whether on playgrounds or in church or anywhere else – to be there for another in love.