Don’t worry… it’s only banter.

This is a phrase that I’m more sure than not a lot of us hear. Unfortunately, it’s thrown around a lot in schools these days. But, when is it actually banter? It’s often difficult to distinguish between banter and bullying because of the way that friendships have evolved and developed over the last few years. But there are ways to know if a joke has gone too far.

My group of friends is built on a load of us who just enjoy roasting each other. It’s often funny as heck but I feel that we all realise that we are crossing the line but choose to do it anyway. Why is that? We have been friends for a long time and this is the way it had been for that time. But recently, it’s gotten worse. I have a friend who, in the eyes of society, is different. It’s sometimes very easy to make a joke about his differences and in my group if we think of something we think is funny – we say it. This can have some awful consequences. I’m not sure that people realise that these things may be funny but that doesn’t mean that they should be said aloud.

Sometimes, people will say something to someone that they don’t even know because they are different in a certain aspect. The person in question doesn’t know you at all, but you’re treating them the same way you would treat your friends. Is this right? Is it okay to say something out of line to a friend? No, it’s not. It works the same way with anyone. If it persists and the person doesn’t like it. It is bullying.

I hate it when I overstep, often I will be completely aware of what I’m saying and how hurtful it might be, yet, I do it anyway. Why? Sometimes, it’s merely down to if we think we can get away with it. If we think that we won’t get into trouble – it’s likely that we will say it. This is really unfortunate because it means that it is so easy to cross the fine line.

So, what can you do? If you’re the one that is saying the comment, then, at least be 100% sure that what you’re saying is sensible and if it isn’t, either don’t say it or adapt it. I’m not going to reinforce the idea that you shouldn’t say it because you will. But, at least seek permission from the person in question before or after. Even recognition of what you have done could make a magnificently massive difference.

Someone once told me that if you throw a plate on the floor and apologise to it, it won’t fix itself. At first, I was confused but I understood what they meant. If you break someone’s trust, you can’t expect an apology to fix it. Just like the plate, you have to get on your hands and knees and glue it back together. It’s just the same with a friendship. You have to glue it back together for it to be close to what it used to be.

Friendships are weird, they can be love-hate or sometimes completely buried in the sand. The point is, you shouldn’t be different to someone because you don’t know them. You should treat everyone the same way – nicely of course!.

Next time you go to make a comment – think. You could make someone happier.

Yugen – An awareness of the universe which triggers an emotional thought too deep for words.

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