What is bullying?
According to the Webster’s Online Dictionary, bullying is “the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something.” It is also defined as “tending to browbeat others,” and its synonyms include intimidation (noun), domineering, and blustery (adjectives).
In modern vernacular it happens much more than in the schoolyard for some kid’s lunch money or baseball cards. For starters, and not entirely relevant, do people still collect baseball cards?
In addition to school bullying by peers, we have adults and teachers who don’t know the appropriate responses to bullying. Often we blame the person being bullied, trying to get them to change how they do things to avoid the bully and/or the bullying behavior.
We also have the internet which is both the best thing for modern technology and information dissemination, but it is also the best place that feeds the trolls and encourages some aspects of bullying because of its anonymous nature.
Using a made up name with no affiliation to a legal name or location seems to free people’s subconscious to the point that they think their abuse of others is normal and/or okay.
We all know that many bullies have their own problems, whether it is mental illness, chronic abuse by others, or any other reason that they feel validates their abuse and bullying of others.
When I was in middle school, I was told by a girl, same age, same class, her name was Donna and she told me that I couldn’t go on the field trip strawberry picking. I really, really wanted to go strawberry picking. I grew up in the city and the suburbs, which was more city-like than rural, and I had never gone strawberry picking. We barely had a backyard. I really wanted to go.
I think she said they would beat me up.
I went home and cried. I cried a lot.
I also think this is the reason I’ve always wanted a big brother, someone to beat this girl up so I could go on my field trip. This just illustrates the mentality of dealing with a bully; more violence. We know now that this is not the way.
Thinking back on it, she also had two friends with her: it was like Crabbe and Goyle with Malfoy from Harry Potter. She looked like Meg 1.0 from Supernatural, probably one of the reasons I prefer Meg 2.0 to the blond version. The first one always made me uncomfortable and it wasn’t until I started writing this that I realized why.
Anyway, I knew I couldn’t go on the trip. That was obvious; no argument there. I was upset and I’d cry, but no way could I go on the trip.
I also knew I couldn’t make a fuss.
I said I was sick. Very technically, I was sick; sick to my stomach about so many things that I couldn’t understand at eleven or twelve years old. All I knew is that it sucked, and I wasn’t precisely lying; I was truly sick.
I stayed home, and I never forgot it.
Thirty years later, I went to my son’s middle school back to school night. I came home having a panic attack and after spending about two hours talking and crying on the phone, the panic was barely soothed. I was upset for days after, on the verge of other panic attacks.
Bullying never goes away, and so when a fellow Tumblr user began bullying me last week, I became that twelve-year old again.
I tried to talk to the person, to express that I didn’t want to be harassed.
They bullied further.
I shouldn’t admit it for the satisfaction they might get (or others), but I’m in my forties and if it could happen to me, it could happen to the teenagers here who might be less equipped to handle the pressure. I cried. Every time I turned on Tumblr, my tears welled up. It was in the back of my mind at every moment. I stayed after mass and prayed on it.
Tumblr is not supposed to be stressful like this. Tumblr is not supposed to be upsetting. Nothing we do for fun is supposed to be stressful and upsetting.
I’ve taken legal steps to stop this bully from harassing me, but it’s not simple on a public site.
It also shouldn’t be my responsibility to stop this person. They shouldn’t be encouraged by others.
You can’t stop someone from hurting you by hurting someone else.
Sure, I could leave. But why should *I* have to leave? I like it here, and I’ve done nothing wrong. Tumblr is a place of diverse ideas, diverse opinions and people say stuff all of the time that I don’t agree with and don’t like. I don’t jump down all (or even some) of their throats, bully, threaten and harass them because I don’t like what they’re posting.
That is what’s called being an adult.
But it’s more than that.
It’s called respecting that not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will share the same experience with you. Not everyone will want to follow your tactic. And you feeling that you’re right does not give you the right to bash someone who also thinks that they are right.
I don’t care what their problem is. I don’t care if it’s mental, physical, they’re a victim of abuse, what their political affiliation is, what their gender or orientation is, married with kids or single. I honestly don’t give a fuck.
My empathic nature does have its limits. I try to live my life through Christ, but human nature is at once beautiful and compassionate and it is also selfish and egocentric. Once you crossed the line to threaten me (and this person did), you lost my empathy. I have no need to have direct contact with anyone unless they come to me first; unless they talk about me with the name calling and verbal abuse.
When my first son was born, I remembered the strawberry picking field trip. It is never far from my mind when harassment begins, but when my first son was born, I swore that no one would bully him. I would not leave him to fend for himself.
And a few years ago, I swore again. I promised myself that *I* would not be bullied ever again.
I would not live in fear of some ignorant, arrogant, holier than thou, knows better than me about me person, whether in physical person or online.
So this is me standing up.
I know I’m not the only one this person is harassing. I know I’m not the only one that this person has attacked.
And I won’t be silenced.