I am working on a project with my students where we find a TED Talk that intrigues us and we seek out the author to aid us in further researching the topic of their talk as well as dialogue about their writing process. We are welcoming help and feedback from writers who commonly write on our topics.
My model topic is bullying/shaming. I started with Monica Lewinsky’s brilliantly personal and provoking TED Talk and Signe Whitson’s 2012 “Is It Rude, Is It Mean, or Is It Bullying” (carried by Psychology Today and Huffington Post). I have been modeling for my students by explaining how and why I came to this topic and how I hope to explore it further after the phone app Burnbook by Blushhh LLC–an app named after the infamous slam book in the 2004 movie Mean Girls–created a huge stir on our school’s campus through people posting threats of violence against the school and extreme cases of cyberbullying against students and faculty. We even made the news with our school district’s request to remove our schools from the Blushhh LLC directory. Blushhh has so far refused the school district’s request.
In the 1980’s Slam Books had a nicer connotation with it being a notebook that essentially held “club” meetings–people would sign in and share answers to a series of questions (see this BuzzFeed example). In the 1990’s slam books changed in dynamic with the word “slam” coming to mean to say derogatory things about a person. The Burn Book from Mean Girls is essentially a slam book of the latter variety. Urban dictionary defines a burn book as “A spiral notebook with the name of a jr. or sr. high girl (usually) written on the top line. The books is passed around among classmates who write nasty things (slam) on the page under the girl’s name.”
So when the Burnbook app started dominating talk around campus, and Ms. Lewinsky came forward with a compelling and personal talk about how anonymous hateful language compounds insult and injury with little or no responsibility on the part of the injurer, it seemed like Fortuna was nudging me. So if you have powerful and credible information on the impact of bullying and have authored a piece, would you be willing to speak to me about your writing process?