Remember Ghyslain Raza? If you're thinking hard and still drawing a blank, that is probably because he is better known as "Star Wars Kid," the victim of what amounted to, in some ways, as a large scale personal attack by the Internet at large when a video of him went viral. Which video? The one of a 14-year-old boy wielding a stick as a lightsaber, flipping it about while alone in a room filming himself. After the video - which currently has millions of views on YouTube - went viral, Raza went silent.
In 2010, Raza briefly reappeared in the public eye when it was revealed that after the incident he ended up depressed, eventually dropping out of high school and ending up in a children's psychiatric ward, according to Vice. His family sued the families of the three students who posted the video online without Raza's permission, seeking a quarter of a million dollars for the bullying he suffered as a result of it. Eventually the matter was settled, terms unspecified. While it took time to heal, he eventually overcame his unwanted fame and the overwhelming negativity that came with it, moving on to greater things.
Eight years after the incident, Raza held the title of president of the Patrimoine Trois-Rivieres conservation society, and revealed that he was seeking a law degree from McGill University, having since graduated. Although such information was provided, Raza still remained silent about what those years were like, leaving us to guess what he experienced in the unspoken phrases between such admissions of depression and stints in a psychiatric ward.
Now, a full decade later, that silence has finally been broken, with Raza talking about what he experienced and felt during those years in an interview with Canadian magazine Macleans. Why the change? According to Raza, he felt compelled to take a public stand against cyberbullying, not only because he understands it in a way most of us (thankfully) never will, but also because of the growing instances of Internet bullying that have, in some cases, resulted in suicide.
"No matter how hard I tried to ignore people telling me to commit suicide, I couldn’t help but feel worthless, like my life wasn’t worth living," said Raza. He talked about such instances as fellow students climbing on top of tables to mock him. “In the common room, students climbed onto tabletops to insult me." The friends he had before the incident, which he says had been very little, stopped associating with him after the video surfaced. He was finally forced to change schools before dropping out altogether.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however, and when asked what advice he has for those who are suffering cyberbullying, Raza said: "You’ll survive. You’ll get through it. And you’re not alone. You are surrounded by people who love you.”
Image via Motherboard