Indirectness in Bullying

In a lot of environments, like high school or if you work in certain environments; bullying is more direct and obvious. But after childhood in certain environments, it is more subtle. Bullies will disrespect you in subtle ways and of course people won’t want to discuss it. If other people see it, they won’t want to have a real conversation about it with you either. They will just do something indirect to make themselves feel better.

And I hate when people stare at me with looks of pity or disgust. They don’t say anything, they just look at you. That’s nonverbal, indirect communication and it’s annoying as hell. People don’t like looks of pity. It makes people feel even worse to know that others “feel sorry for them” because it makes them feel pathetic and like others think they’re pathetic. What’s the better alternative is RESPECT. Even if you feel bad for someone, maybe support and respect them, instead of feeling sorry for them and giving them dumb looks. And as far as I’m concerned looks of disgust is bullying also. You’re still being mean, just nonverbally now.

And the bullies and their peers will talk about you behind your back but not actually talk to you. So no one ever actually discusses it with you.¬†And I didn’t realize that bullies were about being clever and guile with the people they pick on. They will say horrible things about you, but then when you confront them about it, they will just lie or claim they don’t remember or didn’t do it. And then they’ll continue doing it and make fun of you confronting them about it also. So you see they just like to find ways to be mean to their targets, and get away with it, and of course so they can win, and the target can’t fight back or win against them. And they’re not willing to be civil, do the right thing, and have an honest conversation with you about how they’ve treated you. The beguiling, indirect bullying is the worst.

When someone is mean to you in front of others, obviously everyone knows about it. If the bully is popular and cool with other people, they will discuss their hatred for you with their friends. This in turn may influence their friends to dislike you also. Even if you and their friend haven’t ever had a problem with each other. And people are full a shit. Every now and then, mean and insensitive people will actually feel some guilt over the way they treat others. But they react to this in very immature ways. Rather than just walk up to the person, directly discuss what happened, apologize and reassure them it won’t happen again; they will discuss with their friends that even though they hate you, they feel guilty over how they’ve treated you, and they will act fake nice to you. It could even be something as small as opening the door for you, saying hi and acting very cheerful with you, talking to you about something that has nothing to do with how they’ve treated you (sports, etc) or “helping you out” if you need assistance. Basically they and they’re dumb friends will patronize you which just adds salt to the would in terms of their bullying of you. I hate bullies and when people mistreat me, so if they don’t want to give an authentic apology, I would prefer they just fuck off and not talk to me.

 

The Stigma of “Tattle-Telling”

In elementary school, you’re told that if someone’s picking on you that you should tell an adult (parent, teacher, counselor). But at around that same time the stigma of being a tattle tell has already started to pressure everyone (especially boys). It’s one thing for your peers during childhood well into adulthood to stigmatize “telling”, but what’s an even bigger offense is that most parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, and bosses DON’T ACTUALLY MEAN IT. They contradict themselves and say it based on what’s more convenient to them and makes them look better.

If a kid is picked on in school and stands up to the bully by insulting or fighting him, he will be in trouble with the school. The school will immediately tell say “if you were being picked on, you should’ve told an adult to avoid this”. But sometimes even during K-12, telling on the bully is ineffective because the adult will do NOTHING. Once at camp when I was 11, I told the counselor when I was being picked on and the counselor yelled at me to stop “telling”. Two years later I told a teacher when another student was picking on me at lunch, and she yelled at me, “boy, you need to stop telling on people, you’re in the eighth grade”! Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know that I was a full-grown responsible adult at 13 fucking years old. I was also beat up at a recreation center when I was 10, and my caregiver (although he didn’t actually care or give a shit at all) kept taking me there everyday where the bully was anyway. He and the nurse laughed at me at the clinic for getting socked in the mouth and he told me I don’t care if this happened to you, you have to go back. In high school, the principal laughed when I fought a bully and even accused us of being “friends” when we clearly weren’t. I called the police on the same bully and they had a similar response. I fought another bully in high school and the teacher made light of the situation. She told every jokingly for the next 2 years how she was scared because we had a fight in her class (obviously the fight was not with her and didn’t affect her). What about me, the kid that got picked on embarrassed verbally and physically in front of the whole class? What about my fear and my trauma? But the selfish bitch was too busy having fun and worrying about herself to care about her students.

And obviously the stigma of telling on the perpetrator just gets worse as you grow up. In college, they won’t really take you seriously if you have a problem with a professor or TA. They’re already biased to be on their side and they give the professors a lot of power. Plus obviously they can retaliate against you if you complain.

In the working world, if the person being picked on has something bad happen to them; the boss or HR will claim, if he had a problem with others he could’ve come to us. But most of the time, management and HR see “tattle telling” as a nuisance or “baby-sitting”. They say come to us with any problems. Many jobs have “open door policies”. But that’s just there to make them sound nice and like it’s a nice place to work that cares about you. But they don’t. In reality, when you tell they treat you like you’re being annoying, and they don’t really want to deal with bullying. They just want to deal with the job itself. In interviews, many employers will even ask you something along the lines of:

  • How do you deal with conflict with other employees?
  • Do you get along well with others?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a team setting?
  • Tell me about a time you had difficulty with a co-worker?
  • How do you handle interpersonal conflict?

Answer any of these questions with “I tell management” or any answer implying you would stand up to the co-worker, well may as well just get up and walk out of the interview right then and there because you ain’t gettin the job. Both answers supposedly imply to the interviewer that you’re going to be a problem employee because you’re either an annoying tattle tell that can’t deal with difficult people, or you’re in the wrong for standing up for yourself to the difficult co-worker (when apparently you’re supposed to just lie down and take their shit because that works better for everyone else). I even had 1 employer tell me during the interview that he hated “baby sitting” as in “telling”. Another employer told me “people can’t always check their issues at the door before coming to work”. So in other words, they were defending workplace bullying. Well it’s no wonder workplace bullying is so prevalent if the people in charge are defending bullies themselves. How are good people like us supposed to succeed, keep our sanity, or even make a living if bullies have damn near full impunity and support to pick on people at work, and will never be held accountable? The truth is most employers would just prefer that you just lie back and take the bullying, do nothing about it, and who cares how it affects you.

A lot of co-workers are bossy also. Bossiness is bullying too. If a person isn’t in charge of you or training you, they shouldn’t be telling you what to do. Most of these people are stubborn, egotistical, and selfish. Most of them rationalize it using seniority or some other bologna. Being at a job longer does not automatically make you a de facto manager for new employees. And of course they are vindictive about this. When you stand up to them, they go behind your back to management rather than apologizing and admitting they were wrong for being a bossy micromanager that had no business telling people how to work.

So victims of bullying are expected to live much of their lives unprotected and unsupported from bullies.

How The System Works In Favor of Bullying

Bullies actually have the advantage against their targets in most social situations which is unfortunately the reason why they’re so successful. Usually bullies have the social support of friends that will back them up while their targets don’t. The bully is almost always the more aggressive one who won’t stop until they’ve overpowered their target (won). The bully knows that due to the social environment and the culture that they can get away with their bad behavior without truly being held accountable; and most bullies know how to bully subtly (with finesse) without getting in trouble and making their behavior obvious and noticeable. These factors make the bully damn near impossible for the target to beat or even be protected against. Usually targets have few to no REAL friends that will back them up against bullies. Usually the target is less aggressive than the bully. Sometimes the target will not be as aware of their social environment and how powerful the bully is socially, or the bully’s intentions.

Bullies know how to bully in a way that won’t get them in trouble, but when the target stands up for themselves and reacts; of course is the target that gets in trouble regardless of what the initial perpetrator did. So much for justice, equal treatment, and getting both sides of the story. They usually have more charisma than their victims and know how to bully others without making themselves obvious to everyone else. Sometimes the victim will be the only one who acknowledges or even knows about the bully’s bad behavior because the bully is so popular and well-liked by others, even if others know what’s going on, they won’t say or do anything about it. A lot of times, they will even support the bully which makes the bully even more powerful and harder for the target to beat. Because then they know they can just call their friends over to help bully the target. It could be physical intimidation or even just help spreading gossip about them, but they will do anything and use anyone to overpower the target.

Authority figures are quick to say that people should report it if they’re being bullied. But it’s not always that simple, and reporting it won’t always stop the bullying. Many bullies won’t stop their behavior just because the target reported them. Some will actually become even harsher. They may damage the target’s reputation behind their back (which isn’t something management, human resources, or teachers can always stop/prevent) by gossiping about them or ridiculing them. Some authority figures themselves will become annoyed and irritated, and portray the target as a tattle/snitch that can’t “handle” their own problems if they go to management when they are bullied. Managers are very quick to say “I am not a babysitter”. But then when something terrible happens or someone’s in trouble, the first thing that they will say is “Oh they should’ve reported it to someone if they were being bullied or harassed”. Anybody see a contradiction? Many authority figures won’t even take bullying seriously if it’s reported. Some are very light-hearted about it. But bullying is no light-hearted matter, and the effects are no light-hearted or laughing matter (even though many bullies themselves may think so). Bullying should be a fireable offense, or at least taken more seriously. It wouldn’t stop there. One of the bully’s friends may try to pick up the torch, but if the target, allies, and management/teachers stay on top of it, bullying could be eradicated or at least minimized in the workplace/school/social situations.

We have a culture of toughness, aggression, being strong, independent, and conflict. If someone’s being bullied, other people actually have the audacity to say “oh it’s that person’s fault. They’re weak, they need to stand up for themselves. You gotta be aggressive. You’re supposed to get stronger. You gotta be on the ball. You need to think on your feet. Don’t be so sensitive.” You see what they did? They didn’t even acknowledge that the bully was wrong in what they did or empathize with the victim. They blamed the target that it happened and accused them of being weak willed and not aggressive or tough enough. Why the hell should someone have to be this hyper-aggressive person who’s ready to fight and make snappy comebacks on a moment’s notice just to have some respect and not be trifled with? What’s wrong with being a regular level headed person with a good head on their shoulders who respects people and just wants to live a normal life? I don’t think they deserve to be bullied. Plus when someone has just been bullied, the last thing you should do is blame them for it or claim that they are somehow deficient in behavior or character traits. If you’re that person’s friend or you give a shit about them at all, you should support them and have their back. Tell them good things that will uplift and encourage them. Don’t antagonize and patronize them. Be real with them but gentle and understanding. And don’t treat them like a baby or as if they’re weak. Not everyone is or can be hyperaggressive. Just because they aren’t does not mean they should be bullied. And it doesn’t justify it at all. But people who do that are just one more way the system favors bullying.

Bullying is often social and bullies are often socially more privileged than their victims. How many times have you seen a bully who has several friends, attractive girlfriends/wives, and even a loving supportive family while their victims do not have those support systems in their lives? How many times do you see victims of bullying live their lives alone while their bullies do not?

One thing bullying does (especially for those who are unfortunate enough to be veteran targets of bullying) is teach you to fear. Especially if you’ve been bullied from a young age. If you’ve been taught to fear your whole life, it’s going to affect you.

Up until recently, bullying was perceived as a good thing and a natural rite of passage in society. Thank goodness that at least now, bullying is recognized as a legitimate social ill. It’s absolute bullshit that people try to make it seem like bullying makes you stronger/tougher, “it’s just a part of growing up”, or they’lle say kids will be kids.

Oh and of course if you’re upset about bullying and sick and tired of the bullshit of bullying, it’s your fault and it’s your job to “get over” your unhappiness. Well “getting over” problems is one thing, but for some people certain problems/issues in life are lifelong. Just because you get over it once or twice doesn’t mean it won’t happen again or that next time you’lle be successful.

And of course counselling is usually utter shit. Most of these “professionals” do not have the skills, understanding, or give a shit about victims traumatized by bullying.

The culture that we live in promotes bullying and allows it to flourish. It benefits bullies and demoralizes victims. And it continues in a cycle for both throughout life. Until culture changes to where people take bullying seriously to the point when bullies are shamed, denounced, and hardly supported by anyone; we will continue to have a system that favors bullying.