The status on my nephew’s Facebook page said “Like for a TBH.”
I was not familiar with the acronym, so I sent him a private message,
“To Be Honest”, he replied.
“Ah” I posted, and left it at that. I read along as the evening unfolded and got the idea it was a way of inviting conversation, maybe a plea for a pep talk. But I also noticed that one or two of his “friends” took the opportunity to say what was on their mind, and it wasn’t flattering to my nephew.
The wormhole opened. I was back in my grade 6 classroom baring my soul and stating my “to be honest” claims against my classmates.
A version of the “TBH” exercise was making the rounds during the 1960’s. The practice was a form of “therapy”. Not necessarily one that the medical or social work fields sanctioned, but one that you read about in the newspapers. One that “cults” practised. Adults in our neighbourhood tut-tutted about the young teen two streets over who was “rescued” from a commune. The housemates had forced her to sit naked while they, encircling her, recited a litany of her flaws. The idea was that you were somehow made stronger by being rendered vulnerable and defenseless.
Our Sunday School teacher had us try a sanitized version. She demonstrated:
“Billy, I really like how you help your little brother climb the stairs. That’s nice.”
“Susan, you have a lovely singing voice. I hope you can sing in the choir again, next week.”
She asked us to try it and we mimicked her examples. Everyone had a little ego boost that day.
So there I was that school day, fresh from my Sunday School love-fest, when the grade 6 teacher decides to hold one of these TBH events himself.
Mr. Van der Wolfenschraderheimermiensterdick (made-up name, can you tell?) was a young man, very tall, dark hair with a white forelock and immaculately groomed. He had no trouble with discipline. His teaching methods were… shall we say “unorthodox”?
In our class, two pupils excelled at their schoolwork. Teacher would pit one against the other and alienated both of them from the rest of the class. Anita was one of the students.
I was the other.
We liked each other well enough, which was a good thing. When the other twelve-year-olds began to gang up on either one of us, we had each other’s backs.
Mr. Van der Duncemeyersthereandbach introduced the rules of To Be Honest. However, he incorporated a twist. Besides telling the other what we liked about them, to be honest, we needed to tell them what we did not like.
I volunteered. I saw this as my opportunity to defend myself and to chastise the class for being mean to me and Anita.
[This is me, folks. Damn the torpedoes – no guts, no glory.]
It backfired, of course.
“Oh yeah?” came one indignant response, “Well you are a stuck up brown-nose”
“Yeah, go suck eggs”
Or some such remarks.
Mr. Van der Hammerschmiddlepoopendump said not a word. Nor did Anita. I looked to her for support. She avoided my gaze.
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With one exception, the situation then was identical to the one playing out on my nephew’s Facebook page. As I watched, I could see the ranks form. His allies rose to his defense. The virtual bombs flew wildly. It was all so much entertainment! LOL’s here and FML’s there. It was a game!
What is it, do you suppose, that makes us crave acceptance and praise to the point where we expose our self to stupid cruelty? To be honest? This game the kids play is treacherous. From my vantage point this side of the wormhole, that is.
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Photo Credit Cruella De Vil
Categories: Personal Growth