Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Result Of Thinking Too Much

Something that I left out of my post "Unrelated Thoughts" was the subject of bullying. It seemed to me that topic deserved more than a paragraph or two. I'm seeing a lot more bullying in Twitter than I used to. There was an attempt by someone to do it to me. Fortunately I'm not an influential Twitter user. The attempt fell short of it's mark simply because I wasn't worth wasting time over. I blocked the person trying it and they didn't create a new identity to continue the attack. Had I any influence, the story might have had a different ending.

I have seen bully attacks on some of the women I read regularly. Two of them were so threatening that the women became fearful for their safety. That was when we found out that the policy towards bullying created by the owners of Twitter would be no protection against it. The Twitter bullying policy is: A...Don't do it. B...If someone is doing it to you, block that person. C...If the bullying episode is that bad, involve your local authorities. However, Twitter doesn't guarantee that it will give requested information regarding the identity of the bully to said authorities.

There is, I suppose, an option D. That would be to close your own account and leave Twitter. That definitely would solve the problem, but is that fair? Isn't that rewarding the bully and punishing the victim? Sort of a mixed message there isn't it? Does that mixed message exist because of online anonymity? I've wondered if the anonymous aspect of the internet gives people the idea that anything goes?

Why is it considered to be all in fun and those who are on the receiving end should get over themselves and get a sense of humor? What about adults bullying kids? There have been criminal proceedings brought against two such women. The incident at Myspace caused the suicide of a 13 year old. The Facebook incident is appalling in that it targeted the family of a dying child.

The internet is the information highway and as such it is also the misinformation highway. One person can post a lie about someone and in a flash that lie can begin to roll down the mountain and like a snowball can become larger and larger until it totally obliterates it's intended target. What is there about the internet that creates these kind of monsters? The idea that because they're anonymous they won't get caught? Maybe it's caused by a society that sends a very mixed message regarding bullying.

We have become a society where the word compromise is equated with caving in or being the weaker opponent. There is no argument that cannot be solved through open discussion and compromise, but that means that some concessions must be made. Depending upon what side of the issue we stand on, somehow we think those concessions have to happen from the other side. All of them. How do we achieve that desired end? From what I read, it appears we're supposed to bully the other side into caving.

In a world where young people kill themselves because they're being bullied, some adults expect the President of the United States to use the White House as a bully pulpit to force the other side of the issue into capitulation. Now that right there is a fine example for our young people to look up to, isn't it? It's OK for adults, especially politicians to bully other politicians. Or for Conservatives to bully Liberals and vice versa. I'm thinking that if we really want to stop bullying and the pain it causes our young people, maybe we ought to look at our own behavior?


  1. Sherry,
    I haven't run into Twitter bullying but I've experienced it on Yahoo message boards and many a time in real life. Anymore though, I just ignore the attempts or, if someone persists, show my "ornery" side. I'm curious as to why Twitter doesn't banish the would-be bullies.

  2. Back when I was in 3rd grade I was being tormented by a boy who bullyed me - he would taunt me and push me down on the playground. I came home crying and my Dad and me had a talk - What was I going to do about Billy. The school knew that the boy was a bully and did nothing - this was in the 50's. I warped that fucker with my lunch box. Oh, I got two licks with a paddle
    - never cried. But, Billy left me alone.
    Decide not to be a victim - mentally ot physically....


  3. Sherry:

    whenever People try to bully me- whether its right or wrong - I tend to go into raving Psychotic mode, I really hate bullies. great post my friend.

  4. I find a quick wit and some smart talk can deter any typewriter tough guy. When faced with a real bully my approach had always been keep walking and ignore, it didn't always work.

  5. Mr. O,

    I suspect it's a freedom of speech issue. If you've noticed, very few online sites have any policy that actually works against bullying. It seems that adults believe that other adults know enough to act like...adults.

  6. Sarge,

    When I was four a neighbor girl of 6 or 7 used to bully me. One fine summer day she stole my trike. Mom heard me crying and yelled out the window for me to stand up to her and take my trike back. The situation wound up with me sitting on her chest slamming her head onto the sidewalk. She never bullied me again and I don't think she ever bullied anyone else either.

  7. Scratch,

    Online bullying has gotten to epidemic proportions and no one seems able to do anything or stop it. It's not just kids anymore. I actually read a tweet addressed to Keith Olbermann threatening him physically.

    People are unwilling to listen to anything except what they believe in and they trash those who believe differently. And then we don't understand why kids won't stop bullying other kids. Hello! We are setting the example.

  8. Mosquito,

    There's going to come a time when that isn't going to work. I'm seeing a real increase in the threatening kind of bullying against women. Online we can walk away, not so easy in real life.

  9. Sherry, there does seem to be a culture of anonymous bulling all throughout our society and with the explosion of "social" sites on the internet it is rather easy to hide behind a screen name and bully others. In most cases I believe these persons are of some social, educational and economic inadequacies and therefore they hide out of fear, shame, frustration or embarrassment.

    Yes, I am sure a small percentage are psychotic and in/under the proper circumstances could be a danger.

    I have always found that ignoring these types usually causes them to give up and go away as they are getting no reactions and reactions is what they are seeking.....

    Now, did I make myself clear ? don't make me explain it again..don't make me come over there..LOL....

  10. Sherry:

    People should be able to drive down the information highway without other reckless drivers trying to cause an accident.

  11. Tow kinds of bully out there. The playground/office/shop/neighbor bully goes right at you in the open. The electo media allows another type, an unseen one, one who projects threats and fear they may not be able to back up in real life. In some ways the second one is more loathsome, though not much.

  12. TAB,

    The problem is that they aren't giving up and going away. Plus, it's not just the misfits doing it these days. Keith Olbermann and David Schuster have said some things that gave me pause. It was David who sent out a tweet saying the President needed to bully the GOP with the power of the White House. Keith said about someone who disagreed with him that her parents should have taken a trip to Planned Parenthood to avoid her birth. He didn't mean abortion, he says, but frankly, I'm not so sure.

    If you look at these two instances, it's no wonder that bullying is an epidemic problem among kids. And it's killing kids through suicide.

  13. Whit,

    Maybe they would if society would learn respect for the opinions of others. This "my way or the highway" attitude we've developed is certainly a large contributing factor.

  14. Fringe,

    Bullying is a serious issue these days. It appears we've failed to leave the schoolyard.

  15. Your thoughts about adults setting a bad example for kids by bullying is spot on. Ignoring it sometimes work, but I think it's better to stand up to it if possible. Thoughtful post.

  16. Skinny,

    We all can be guilty of bullying. Which is probably why we'll never stop it. However, some people take it to levels that are shocking and appalling.