Have you ever wondered how much time is needed to turn a life up-side down? I never had. Never. Yet I can look into your eyes now, telling you that all that is needed are a few seconds for God to make someone fall all the way from Heaven to Hell. Two seconds, to be more precise.
Last week, a girl named Sophia was admitted to our school. She had just moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. She was looking forward to enter a new chapter of her life with long days at the beach, sunny days and new friends and memories minting the pages. With ink from her heart and paper from her life, she started writing something that was supposed to be a happy story. So with a suitcase with expectations and joy, Sophia entered Hell.
She had an iPhone, we all had. She was in my French and gym class, and it was a rainy day when I cried out:” What’s your nickname on Snapchat?” A couple of students answered, but the rest remained silent and were listening curiously. I introduced them to the new app, showing them how they could send pictures to other people within seconds. I excitedly told them that they could decide how long the picture they sent was going to last, and afterwards it would be gone forever - unless the receiver took a screenshot. But I assured them that if the picture lasted for just one or two seconds, that wouldn’t happen. “And don’t worry about screenshots anyway, we’re only joking, right?” I said, concluding my speech. Five minutes later, the whole class had downloaded Snapchat. We were all laughing, joking and sending ugly pictures of each other and making it last for two seconds. Sophia was still happy, so she laughed as well.
But where is it reasonable to draw a line between jest and earnest? An inconsiderable joke can suddenly surprisingly trip over the line that no one really paid attention to. Temerity and ignorance is dangerous when you’re joking.
After lunch we made our way to the gym. While going, I actually remember I was laughing at something Sophia just had told me. I didn’t know that in one and a half hour from that moment of laughter, I would cross that very line between a jest and earnest- the line that no one really paid attention to.
When I checked my phone after gym there was still no notification saying that I was wrong, saying that from now on things would be different. What I saw was an empty Lock Screen. If I just had forgotten my phone at home that day, if I just hadn’t brought it to gym, or if anything had prevented me from holding my phone at that time, no life would be ruined that day.
Sophia had her eye on a boy in French class whose name was Peter. I knew that, and I really wanted Sophia and Peter to get to know each other. None of us really knew him, but judging by his great appearance, good looks and charming smile, we thought he was a nice guy- that type you see in chick flicks.
I was done showering before Sophia. I went to my phone and checked three new snaps. At that very moment Sophia came out from the shower with a towel wrapped around her body. She smiled at me and walked to her clothes in the corner of the wardrobe. Then a minute of clumsiness caused a horrible event. Sophia had dropped her towel, and two clicks later a certain picture was sent to Peter from me...
It only took Sophia a minute to realize what just had happened. She stormed towards me, grabbing my phone from my hands and screaming: “Who did you send that picture to?!” I was slightly taken aback by Sophia’s reaction, and answered that Peter was the receiver. “But relax, Sophia, he can only hold it for two seconds! I can assure you that he will start to notice you from now on in French!” Sophia did not relax, and she was still furious with me. “Notice me? Notice me?” Sophia yelled angrily.
It was a joke. I meant it just as a joke. But joking can be dangerous when you don’t pay attention to when you might be crossing the line. It’s dangerous when you’re blinded with foolishness, balancing on a cliff and fumbling with laughter, only inches away from falling. The worst thing? You don’t have a single clue about it. Because any narrow, inexperienced young mind doesn’t seem to know the difference between deadly seriousness and jokes.
The day after was terrible for us both, but probably worst for Sophia. Peter had in fact managed to screenshot the picture. I had no control in the situation, and I desperately tried to force Peter to delete it. But he turned out to be quite different from what we thought he was. The picture had spread like wildfire.
Everywhere Sophia went after that, people started to call her horrible things. Rumor said that it was Sophia who had sent the picture herself, and she went through a lot of bullying. She could not be in public without people looking at her and whispering to each other.
Fire: it disappears after a while- but it leaves traces. There is a certain similarity between fire and this happening. It will calm down eventually, but it will leave traces. By the time the fire will dim, the whole forest will be burnt down. By the looks of it, it will never become what it once was again.
Have you ever wondered if seeing your life falling to pieces is worse than seeing someone else’s life doing so, just because of something you did? I have. And those seconds of something that then seemed like an inconsiderable joke, made me fall harder than I’ve ever done before. I like to think that we both will be able to move on and forget it all someday. But that’s a lie, because she will never forget it and neither will I. I deleted Snapchat right afterwards and threw my iPhone in the sea. I wanted it to drown in hopelessness, regret and guiltiness, just like I did. And it’s still there- Till it rots with saltwater, it will lie there; forever abandoned, forever untouched.