I must apologize to all my loyal readers. It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. I’ve been working on a piece of writing that has been taking me a long time to complete. In the meantime, October arrived and it came to my attention that October is national bullying prevention month. Therefore I decided to write a Facebook status about bullying.
I realized that the people who bullied me would not read that status because I have blocked them on Facebook. However, I know that those people are reading my blog. On Facebook I sent friend requests to some people who did not bully me but who were associated with the bullies. Some of those people accepted my friend requests but some of those people misinterpreted the intent of my friend requests and blocked me because they believed the things the bullies said about me. It is truly their loss, not mine but maybe those people are reading this blog too.
However, it is not just for their benefit or the benefit of the people who bullied me that I am posting my Facebook status here. It is for the benefit of anyone who has ever been a victim of bullying, anyone who has ever been a perpetrator of bullying and anyone who is interested in hearing my thoughts about bullying:
It has come to my attention that it is national bullying prevention month. People are being encouraged to come forward with their stories of bullying. I know that some people will be hesitant to come forward with their stories because they will question whether what was done to them was truly bullying. When stories of bullying are put forth, some other people will question whether what was done to them was truly bullying.
They might say things like “What was done to you was rude, insensitive, mean, and maybe it was even cruel but it wasn’t truly bullying. Those people said mean things and called you names but they didn’t hurt you or threaten you. Let’s reserve the term bullying for incidences where people are seriously injured or threatened.”
Words, whether they are spoken, written or typed are powerful. They are used by bullies to harm, humiliate and intimidate their victims. They are used to alienate their victims and make them feel inferior. Those bullies may not be threatening your physical well being but they are threatening your emotional well being.
There are a lot of bullshit excuses and justifications given for bullying and if I went in to all of them I’d use up all of the bandwidth on Facebook but some of the most common ones are 1.You deserve to be treated this way because of something you did to annoy me or because you’re not conforming to my standards! 2. The things I’m saying about you are true! 3. You’re just overreacting! What I said to you wasn’t that bad!
1. Being annoyed by someone not conforming to your standards is not a valid reason to treat someone badly. There really is no valid reason to treat someone badly.
2. Just because someone thinks something is true, doesn’t mean it is true. Just because a lot of people think something is true, doesn’t mean it’s true. Even if what those people are saying about you is true that doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to say it. If it’s not kind and it’s not necessary it should not be said
3a. It’s usually best to trust your instincts. Sometimes someone will inadvertently say something that hurts your feelings, apologize for what they said and not say anything like that ever again. If you are still holding on to petty grudges or butthurt over something like that, then you need to build a bridge and get over it.
3b .However, if someone repeatedly calls you names and repeatedly makes abusive remarks about your character or your life circumstances, you are absolutely being bullied. If they are sharing those comments with other people, trying to convince other people to perceive you in that way, trying to convince other people to gang up on you and make similar comments to you, then you are absolutely being bullied. If you feel unable to stand up to those people, unable to prevent them from saying those things to you, unable to prevent their comments from affecting your life because those people have some kind of power over you, wherever that power may come from, then you are absolutely being bullied.
When people are invited to share their personal experiences with bullying, there will inevitably be some people who will share experiences that are not truly bullying. However, I am far more concerned about the people who truly experienced bullying but who will not come forward with their stories because the people who were supposed to protect them from bullying denied the validity of their experiences and their perceptions of those experiences, thus making excuses for the bullying and perpetuating the bullying. I am far more concerned about the people who will come forward with their experiences of bullying and will then have the validity of their experiences and the perceptions of those experiences denied by people who are supposed to be supportive of them, thus making excuses for bullying and perpetuating further bullying.
If we can’t accept that repeated name calling and abusive remarks made by people with some sort of power to someone who is in some way vulnerable is truly bullying, then can we please have a cruelty and insensitivity prevention month?