As usual a lot of my inspiration for blog posts comes from something I see on social media and I saw a tweet this week from Georgina Grogan of She Might Be Loved which got my brain ticking over…Sticks and Stones may break my bones but what is bullying?
When I was at school I was picked on. I ticked a lot of boxes. I was plump with big boobs, I had naturally curly hair that sometimes looked great and sometimes left me resembling a poodle, I was from what others perceived to be an unorthodox family set up (I was from a single parent family where my dad was the lone parent), I was a geek, I only had one hand, I had a brown birthmark on my leg (the favourite choice was usually upon leaving the toilets…I’d get “Ruffle you’ve got shit on your leg”…cos I’d totally not heard that one before) and I wore glasses that Deirdre Barlow would regularly call and request back. Basically I was a great target. I adopted avoidance strategies to stay off the radar. I used to do people’s homework, I’d avoid PE and so on. I also learnt to deflect with humour. Yes I was the little funny fat friend (I should add now I’m the freaking hilarious friend).
According to stopbullying.gov they define bullying as unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. They break bullying down into three main types; verbal, social and physical. Wikipedia says bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, abuse, intimidate or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. They also include cyber bullying into the types. When I asked a group of people what feelings they attached to bullying the same words came up multiple times . People shared some of their experiences of bullying and I was truly saddened that anyone was made to feel that way and something that dawned on me was how some people carry this with them.
The other thing that dawned on me was I don’t always share these feelings when I hear / see people claiming to be being bullied across social media. It seems like bullying is a bit of a buzzword. Seemingly everywhere you look the term bullying is being thrown around. I’d say I see at least one social media post a day where someone says they feel bullied. I am, of course, a nosey beast so I have a look around and it usually turns out that someone has expressed an opinion / shared a meme / used a hashtag and one person has found it upsetting or even offensive and told the original poster (OP) that. As with social media, friends will weigh in and add their opinions which usually result in the OP being told by more and more people. Then the OP has choices. I find what usually happens is one of three things:
- The Dirty Delete (DD)
The OP deletes all traces and pretends it never happened. I’d just like to take this opportunity to impart a teeny bit of wisdom now…this method is not usually successful as the minute you post something someone, somewhere has screenshot it and it will come back to haunt you.
- The Bullying Card (BC)
The OP says they are being bullied as multiple people have said “your post upset or offended me because…”
- The Accept & Apologise (AA)
(This one is a rarity) The OP accepts they can see that their post may of upset people and says SORRY. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to stand by your opinion or your post. If you feel that strongly about it then have the courage of your convictions and stand by it but instead of going with the BC you could simply say “I’m sorry you don’t like my post / opinion but it’s mine nevertheless” or “Wow do you know what I never actually looked at it like that. Thank you”
In my opinion, and I’ve no doubt this will upset or offend someone and if it doesn’t stick around as I’m sure I’ll get round to offending you at some point, people are far too easy to cry bullying nowadays and it completely diminishes the impact on people that are genuinely being subjected to it. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you or your opinion and calls you out on that, I really don’t think you are actually being bullied.
What are your feelings about bullying? Are people too easy to use the term bullying? Please feel free to share your experiences or opinions.