Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior by one person intentionally and repeatedly to abuse, intimidate, or impose domination over others. Bullying happens because of intolerance for differences of opinions, class, race, religion, gender, sexuality, appearance, behavior, or personality. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.
A Bad Habit
Anyone who had a proper upbringing remembers that they were taught that bullying is a bad habit – something not to be engaged in. Our parents drummed it into our ears, as did our teachers. But here we are all grown up and bullying by adults has become such a mainstream practice that it is shocking. Social media in particular has made it possible for bullying to be done even more easily.
An adult bully is someone who has deep behavioural issues. In some cases, they have failed to grow up. In others, they merely lack social skills. In all cases, bullies continue the habit because it often gets results. Whatever the reason and however it is carried out, bullying is always wrong. As someone said just yesterday, there are those who seem to believe that if they shout you down into submission, they have won the argument. Laughable but sad.
A typical example of how cyber bullying works is this: One person says something that is disagreeable to another, and the latter kicks into bully mode, harassing the first person again and again with mockings, insults and name-calling in their mentions. The goal is to intimidate the other. I am sure that you can immediately point out more than one person – on Twitter especially – who engages in – or has engaged in – bullying.
Unfortunately, the internet is a difficult place to moderate, and so cyber-bullying often goes on unchallenged. In the name of calling out people, bullying takes place everyday. The Wendell-Simlin incidence was one in which a lot of bullying went on, and probably still goes on.
Bullying done by a group is called mobbing, and I am certain that you can recall mob actions that have taken place on Twitter or Facebook or elsewhere. The interesting thing is that those who criticize bullying and mob action in real life are often the perpetrators of bullying and mobbing online. The irony. It sure is shameful to see adults engage in a practice that schools work hard to eradicate among children.
Responding to Cyber Bullying
Discretion is the better part of valour, so as much as possible, do avoid bullies and mobs. They are not necessarily rational people. Of course, this is not always possible. So, if you find yourself in a bad situation and being pestered by a bully, you can do one or more of a few things, including:
1. You can assert yourself against the bully. Firmly but politely demand that they stop heckling you;
2. You can engage someone else to stand by you against the bully;
3. You can walk away quietly, though this is not always possible or practical;
4. Social media platforms have a block button of sorts. Where all else fails and the bully or mob persists, use the block button. You can also always file a report if there are channels for that.
Just as in the case of rape, whether or not the bully gets away with it, it is never your fault that it happened. The bully or the mob is the one with deep behavioural issues.
Lastly, do not engage in bullying either. Do not be a bully. The way to avoid being a bully it to respect the opinions and the liberties of others. When you disagree with a person, be civil and respectful in stating your points. Avoid calling others names just because they hold a different opinion on an issue. And by all means, do not heckle people that you disagree with. Consistently mentioning someone while throwing a verbal tirade at them is heckling. Don’t. Thou shalt not be a bully.