Kayla Handy, Editor In Chief
I am not a fan of silence. Silence can be a good thing. Silence provides a home for awkward conversations that never have to be started, a refuge for the introverts who want to avoid hasty stares and a cover for anger or disappointment that is just too overbearing to express. But then, silence can be deadly.
If you aren’t caught up with the latest binge-worthy Netflix series, “Thirteen Reasons Why,” I suggest you grab a tissue box and start binging. However, I warn you: the series uses silence as a weapon, a weapon that affects the lives of 13 individuals whose words and actions were as sharp as the heartrending story of Hannah Baker. When watching the series, I knew what to expect. I had read the novel months prior. While reading the novel, I had imagined the scenes of bullying and degradation that the students inflicted upon one another. Seeing it, truly seeing it happen right before my eyes, made me want to close them in fear.
The series opened them.
One reviewer of the book on thirteenreasonswhy.com states, “When a book actually affects the way you breathe, you know it is powerful. When a book changes the way you look at life, you know it is nothing short of spectacular…you will hurt, you will smile and you will never be the same.” I can honestly say that I am not the same, truly, after seeing it.
Silence can be just as powerful as actions, but sometimes seeing those actions in progress, happening 10-feet in front of you, is like receiving a gut-punch to the stomach right after scarfing down too many slices of pizza: it freaking hurts. Not the kind of pain that simply withers away and is forgotten about the next day, but the kind of pain that slowly goes away, but then sharpens and tightens your insides as soon as you decide to stand up straight again. It’s always there: it never goes away.
I feel that there is a lesson to be learned from this series, from the impact that it had on its viewers, people who physically took the time to watch the series and all its trials, versus those who took the time to flip carelessly through the pages, hurrying to finish the next chapter before falling asleep.
Words can really hurt you, but silence can you hurt even more. If you can simply sit through watching that series and not reflect on the times you have been silent, on the times that you have seen something so impeccably wrong that you have felt that gut-punching tightness in your stomach, then you simply have not lived, and certainly have been living in a god-forsaken bubble-wrapped island of rainbows and unicorns for the entirety of your life.
Silence can be just as crippling as saying the wrong thing. Yet silence can be as healing and tender as a mother’s embrace. Knowing when to be silent is golden. Not golden as in the golden rule, a dirty eye for a dirty eye, a silent smirk for a silent smirk. Golden as in the golden ticket found in the chocolate riches of what is life. Being able to find silence and wear its cloak like a winner’s jacket when it’s morally right, not when it just seems right for you at the moment.
When you are in a fight with your mother about getting a real job to pay for your bar trips, shut your mouth. When you think of a smart a** remark during a conversation with your professor, bite your freaking tongue. But heaven forbid, you see a co-worker being made fun of because of the way he or she dresses, speak up and give a rant about individuality. You see a girl or guy having their personal space being invaded by a drunken soul, go over and pretend to be their long lost best friend, break the silence, break the trend, be brave.
I have fought demons. I have been silent when I know I should have spoken my voice whether it be calling for help, standing up for myself or someone else, or heck voicing how I honestly feel. After truly seeing “Thirteen Reasons Why,” I realized the demon that silence can really be. I realized the ghost that silence can turn into, how it can haunt you in all aspect of your life, awake and asleep.
So know when to be silent. Know when to speak up. Know when silence can be a blessing and a curse. How will you know the difference you ask? It is simple. Come up with 13 reasons why or why not you should be silent. Use those reasons to determine your actions. Remember, think of 13 reasons why.