Walking down many school hallways, we encounter those individuals which we call “Bullies”. Sometimes the image that comes to mind is a mean, large kid beating the living daylights out of a smaller kid (usually the class nerd). But that is where we have stereotyped what a bully is, the concept behind the actions of a bully goes beyond school grounds, we find it in the streets and more profoundly on social media.
Let’s take a closer look at how we define a Bully. According to the Oxford English Dictionary a Bully is: “A person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable”. Harm doesn’t necessarily have to be physical abuse, it could also be verbal or even emotional abuse, and with the thriving use of social media platforms (such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc.) it has become increasingly simpler to inflict harm on others who could be on the opposite ends of the Earth. Just simply typing or vlogging about your strong opinion on a certain issue and bad mouthing anyone who disagrees with you or anyone who has a different point of view is abuse is some form.
Some would argue that we should be allowed “Freedom of speech” however when this freedom is abused we tend to use it express our opinions in the harshest ways possible without any regards to any other person. Cyberbullying is increasingly becoming a leading reason for suicide especially amongst teens.
“In Real Life” is a social experiment that shows what happens when online bullying is taken offline #Clickwithcompassion (You can find this video on YouTube). The scenes portrayed by the various actors are horrifying, and is unacceptable by many of us.
So why do bullies act the way they do? How could abusing others become “habitual”? After researching the matter further, I came across Brooks Gibbs, the author of “Love is Greater than Hate: The Ultimate Guide to End Bullying”. Gibbs explains that Bullying is a Dominance Behaviour, which basically means seeking power over another, and he clearly shows this by asking someone to verbally bully him in front of an audience. When you bully someone you make them feel small, weak or maybe even insignificant, which is the point, when they feel bad and react with anger or get upset, you feel the satisfaction that you have done that. You made this other person feel bad about themselves because you are better than them.
How do we stop Bullying? We are all aware that it is a bad thing (even the bullies themselves), however we constantly see these incidences of abusive behavior all around us. Gibbs gives us the solution, and it is quite simple. “Don’t get upset”. You are probably thinking “You’ve gotta be kidding me” but seriously, if someone tries to insult you and you return the insult with a compliment or neutral statement, you deny them the sense of power that they are seeking over you. This doesn’t apply to physical abuse though, you should stand up for yourself.
Bullying is a serious issue in our society, and we need to spread the awareness amongst ourselves and educate our kids that power doesn’t need to be gained by abusing a peer, it could be gained through effective communication and mutual understanding.