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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Honesty and Bullying (a fine line)

This may be a touchy subject.

No, this is a touchy subject.

The subject of bullying is all over the place.

It is a serious issue.

However, there comes a point where a serious issue gets overdone.  There comes a point where it's overused as an excuse.  There comes a point where it's used as an explanation for everything that happens on this entire earth.

Except no one wants to call the overuse of bullying out as we did when the term "sex addict" was blown way out of proportion.  Remember that?  When everyone and their mother was a sex addict or "had a problem and had to go to rehab" because of their addiction to sex?  I believe that ended when Tiger Tiger Tiger Woods y'all had to go to rehab because of his "problem."  I think the people of our world had had enough.  We were sick of blaming the fact that people did stupid shit on their "disease" and really started to want people to take responsibility for their actions.

And we still do.

However, how do you take a serious problem, like bullying, and really center it around the heart of the matter...really make sure that the true issues are being looked at rather than a bunch of fluff...and at what point does being honest with someone become bullying?

I like honesty.

It works for me.

Fakeness (not a word...whatever...go with it) is not my personality.  It's not who I am.  My facial expressions typically give me away anyway, so I can't fall back on being fake.  I suck at it. 

I'm much better at honesty.

So, where does one draw the line?

Here is the definition of a bully from dictionary.com:


Okay, let's face it...I chuckled at "pimp."

Moving on...blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing, habitual behavior.  That's what I get from it.  There are people like this out there...many people...people we all hate (and now that we're adults can just write off as assholes).  Isn't adulthood wonderful?

We've learned to deal with these people.  I'm not saying it's right, but we've had to learn to deal with these people because they're out there and they're not going away.

We've all encountered a bully at one point or another.  

Most of us have been a bully at one point or another as well.  It's Darwinism...survival of the fittest.  If someone does it to you, you're going to do it to someone else who is smaller and weaker than you.  It's also a defense mechanism..."kick the dog" rings a bell, but it's been too many years since my psych degree to quote that accurately.

Again, I'm not saying it's right, but it is human nature.

Bullying is a problem.  It's been a problem for a long time.  Long long long ago, it was seen as something else...survival.

So, is there a formula?  Are there certain kids who are bullied/targeted/picked out?  Probably.  As a former teacher, I can tell you that there are kids who deflect negative comments easily and kids who aren't able to do so.  Personally, I think it's harder with the girls to figure out who is going to be the target.  Girls are vicious and you never know who their target is going to be.

I remember a mother telling me that her daughter didn't want to go away on their family vacation that week because whoever left town was the girl that her group "hated."  As vicious as that sounds, I can totally remember "getting mad" at someone for no reason at all...just because everyone else did.

So, what is my point in all of this?  I do have one...or more than one.

First, I don't want the term "bully" or "bullying" to become overused.  Terms that become overused often become a joke, become unimpactful (not a word, but you get the gist), or become not as important as they should actually be.

Second, I want to be clear about what a bully is.  I believe the part of the definition that include the word "habitually" is of utmost importance.  A bully is someone who systematically tears someone down for no good reason.  It's not one comment.  It's not one look.  It's not one act of ignoring something that you know is wrong.  It is a habitual and controlled process of destroying someone.  It is getting up in the morning and deciding how you're going to torture that person for the day.  It is getting a band of your "friends" together to work this person over as a group.  There is a system to it.  There is a certain obsessiveness to it, in my opinion.  There is a thought process that never stops.

To me, it borders on stalking.

Third, I want to be clear about what I mean by honesty.  In our society, we have become so afraid of hurting someone's feelings that we have gone way over to the other side.  We avoid honesty to a fault.  We give participation trophies to kids who barely showed up to games.  Remember, trophies are for winners...not participants.  We give E's to kids who fail their classes.  Why?  Because an F would make them feel like a failure and an E might soften the blow.  Well, they ARE a failure.  They failed the class because they failed to do the work because they failed to come to class because they failed to invest in their education.  Why shouldn't they actually fail the class?  We have come up with a multitude of words to save people's feelings...oh, you're fat, we'll just call it "unhealthy."  Oh, you're sitting around your house smoking pot all day and not getting a job...we'll just call you "unmotivated."  Oh, your house is being foreclosed on...we'll just blame it on the market.  We won't look at the fact that you are making bad choices which are impacting your life directly.  We'll soften the blow by using niceties and that way no one's feelings will be hurt.  

Well, frankly, I'm a little sick of it.  Let's be honest.

This has been on my mind for a while, but I haven't said anything because I just wasn't sure where this was going, but then I saw this:



I'm not saying that what this guy wrote wasn't nice...it wasn't nice and he's probably a dick.  What I have an issue with is her putting herself in the same category with kids struggling with being mentally challenged, having a different skin color, or sexual preference.  Those are all things that people CAN'T CHANGE!!!  You can change being overweight...you can make little changes all day long that will help your quest in being overweight.  

Oh, and stop linking what this one person said to being bullied.  You weren't bullied by this person.  He said something that hurt your feelings...it happens.  There was nothing habitual about what this person wrote.  This person probably doesn't write you an email every single day complaining about how you're overweight.  This was one comment made by one asshole about something he believes in.  And yes, it's different from what you believe in.  And yes, he was being honest...honesty isn't always sunshine and unicorns.

Anyway, I just don't think this lady should be getting all of this recognition for coming out against bullying.  Her situation was not a bullying situation and should not be likened to a bullying situation.  It's completely different.  Oh, and let's not forget that she's also an adult and has coping mechanisms and should be able to deal with critique.  She's a public figure, for God's sake...I'm sure she's had her share of critique and just because no one had the balls to point out her weight before, doesn't mean that it hasn't been a factor for people integral in her career.  I could place a bet on the fact that it's been an issue, but that wouldn't be very nice now, would it?

So, to wrap up this rant...bullying is different from making a comment that could hurt someone's feelings.  Bullying is a habitual and planned attack on someone's psyche.  Unfortunately, it usually happens to children who lack the foresight to know that life gets better and the bully is probably going to be some pot smoking loser who can't get a job.  They also lack the coping skills for their hurt feelings and that's where adults can step in.  

Not only can adults step in and deal directly with the bully, but we can also teach coping skills.  We need to teach our children to be able to deal with people who hurt their feelings, who have different opinions, who act and speak like complete assholes.  Those people are out there and they always will be.  If we teach our children how to deal with them, I believe they'll be better off.  The bullies...well, karma is a bitch...so are stalking laws, but I'm sure they'll find out soon enough.