NYT Honorable Mention

The hunt was on. I stalked my prey with a deathly, haunting silence, advancing on my bare feet through the jungle of furniture, drawing closer and closer to an opportunity of attack.

I howled my battle cry.

“YOU TOOK MY CHEEZ-ITS!!”

Abandoning all means of stealth, my seven-year old self leapt out from my crouched position behind the couch and roared with righteous anger. Eyes raging, teeth flashing, fingers curling into claws, I dove on my little brother and pinned down his arms, sticking my face into his with a vengeful expression. 

Revenge, my inner consciousness screamed. 

Payback time. 

Without hesitation, I leaned back… and tickled him.

“The Case Against Tickling” by Jenny Marder exposes “tickling backlash,” where seemingly playful interactions can easily develop and incorporate a sense of over-empowerment. Despite the “involuntary laughter” produced as a result from tickling, it should be clear when others are not sharing your fun.

Outside of the context of play, similar concepts of respecting boundaries should be applied to all aspects of daily life. If consent is not explicitly given, harmful actions against someone’s will compromises the social contract and “Golden Rule” of society: treating others the way you want to be treated.

Looking back, I acknowledge that I watched too much Wild Kratts in first grade. Despite my early misuse of tickling, the invisible ink behind this phenomenon is revealed: in order for us to raise a feather, ask first. Otherwise, we’d all be animals.

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