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A Letter To A Girl Taken By The Machine
I hate to say it, but I’m actually glad you left this time. And not just because your two little sisters’ fighting is driving me nuts. Not just because I want my room, not to mention my bathroom, back. No, this time, it’s actually because of you.
You’ve always grown up fast. It’s like I was born seven and your were born seventeen. But what I never understood was why. Why did you want to grow up so quickly? Even as a kid, I realized that being young seemed one heck of a lot better than the other end of the spectrum.
Maybe I learned it all from watching you. You, my cousin, almost my sister, acting like those eight months you preceded me by were eight years. Maybe, even though we swore otherwise, I didn’t want to be like you.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. What’s really bugging me right now is this last trip.
You’ve changed, you know that? That bright-eyed girl who would watch fireflies and pick mulberries, I don’t see her anymore. It’s like the reflections from all those screens you surround yourself with have sucked the light from your eyes. Because your society, your world is a machine, and they have no places for people with bright eyes and ideas, but no way to the top. And it makes me sick, because it’s no longer about me, it’s about you, you, you.
You, singing that stupid Jon Cozart song about the Nazis in the car. I was sitting in the backseat, trying not to scream, rip your hair out, burst into tears, or all three. Because I’ve seen the graves of some infinitesimal fraction of the people killed by Hitler’s insanity. And that image, all those white crosses, still haunts me, and you have some gall, some grotesquely comical level of ignorance and callousness to sit there singing about how “I’m a real bad man, I killed a girl named Anne, can’t stop me, cause I’m a, I’m a Nazi!” to Lady Gaga and giggling. You were actually giggling. If you’d seen what I’ve seen… well, I don’t know if even that would change you. It changed me. But you think you’re better than I am, because the machine told you that you were, so I just don’t know.
It’s not just your blatant lack of respect for other things that bothers me, either. Like when I tentatively, oh, so tentatively, asked if maybe we could sing some of my music, some Christian rock? And you said no. So coldly, so dismissively, like I was some panhandler begging dimes on the side of the road instead of your own flesh and blood asking for one song. But I just said okay and covered my ears, because that’s the other thing that bothers me- your lack of respect for yourself. The machine took all your self respect when they gave it a false name, fooled you into throwing it away, disguised as “the old you” and “old-fashioned.” And I don’t want to tear away those last shreds of it that you hide behind, because I don’t know what will be left.
Oh, you’re confident.- so confident it makes you conceited, and I’m not even just saying that because I’m jealous. Which I am, and I’m not afraid to admit it. Jealous of your hair. Your pretty clothes. Your guitar lessons. But you and me have different brands of respect.
First, there’s me. I don’t want this whole thing to come across as some sort of ‘holier-than-thou’ rant, because really, we’re not so different. Or we weren’t to begin with. We’re like two flowers, placed in vases with differently colored water. Mine was clear, maybe tinted with blue. And yours was luridly, inescapably pink, the kind that can make you gag… the color of poison.
I have no confidence. Or at least, I don’t wear it everywhere. It shows onstage, or when I work with the preschool kids at church, but not at school, not really. I hate my body. But I accept it as it is, because that’s the hand I was dealt, and because I’m too lazy to whip it into shape. It’s what I’m given, along with my limited knowledge of pop culture and limited supply of attractive clothes, and I just have to deal. And that’s my self-respect. I want to remain an individual. I don’t want to turn into a carbon copy of a million other girls. And that’s pretty much it.
But you- I don’t even know what to say. You say you’re so “amazingly awesome.” You claim to have a fan club that you “didn’t even start!” But really, if you’re that confident, why are you so clearly insecure? I can tell, you know. The way you sell yourself into those pop culture cults, One Direction and Glee Project and, worst of all, Facebook… I won’t even go very far into it. I accept that the boys are talented. I’m pretty sure Glee Project is an awesome show, but I don’t want to turn into a person who lives for every episode, their own time to shine ticking away as they wait to see who’s voted off this time. Because that’s who the machine wants me to be, and I refuse to be turned into a drone- always buzzing after the next magazine or fashion craze or cosmetic product. That’s all I need to say, and it’s all I have time for. It’s late, and I need to run tomorrow. Lucky you, you’d never do anything like that. In the words of that song, one of the few we both loved, “now, you’re just somebody that I used to know.”
And it really, truly makes me sad, because I used to know you. And the you I used to know would have remained an individual. They would have realized all the obscene, repulsive implications of that Nazi song and said something other than a careless, “Oh, well, I guess that could have been offensive.” And it makes me angry, because I know who did this to you.
It was the machine.
They chewed you up and spit you back out.