We have a dangerous GAP in understanding and reality of bullies.
With teen mental health crisis, “mass exodus”, narcissism epidemic and family court crisis to boot – I say it’s time for some serious reflection and reckoning.
We must update our understanding of bullying:
In friendships and romantic relationships
In societal systems
Let’s talk ANATOMY of a BULLY
(Heads up: Stranger Things spoilers ahead).
What is a dictionary definition of a bully?
a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.”he is a ranting, domineering bully”
Now let’s take a look at bullies in a popular Netflix show Stranger Things.
Both Jason and Angela are unequivocally bullies. They are also both attractive, wealthy by the looks of it, popular, charming, smart, academically successful, good at sports. Do they pick on someone they perceive weak and vulnerable? Not at all. Jason is driven by revenge, religious zeal (and possibly jealousy?). He’s after Eddie, a character who stole hearts of viewers of the show more than most other characters.
Angela targets El, no doubt the most powerful character in the series. El is authentic, kind and fair, but no one would perceive her as weak.
Here lies the problem.
When we attach ourselves to this belief that bullies target people they perceive as weak, we thus victim blame. It’s as if we say, you got bullied because you showed yourself weak.
Research disagrees. Both in show and real life bullies attack people they feel threatened by. They don’t take on weaker opponents. They try to take down competition who is as strong if not stronger than them and they fight dirty using every advantage.
Jason didn’t attack anyone by himself, he gathered a group of enablers to aid him. Angela attacked El with a group as well.
Who felt bad for her face getting smashed? Or Jason get cut in halvesies?
I dare say no one.
Everyone’s childhood fantasy of a bully getting what they deserve finally got fulfilled, thanks, Duffer brothers.
Let’s talk about another myth when it comes to bullies. We’ve all heard and said it. “Hurt people hurt people” Right? Wrong.
It’s another way we enable bullies. It’s a way to feel sorry for them instead of holding them accountable.
Hurt people that are not bullies don’t hurt others. They go to therapy, walk Appalachian trail, make art and music or feed poor.
Stop saying it.
Bullies hurt others because they feel entitled to do so.
They do it because they believe they can get away with it. Unfortunately, they often do.
Big reason is we don’t understand bullies and persist in believing myths.
It’s time we grew up and got real. We can learn to recognize and name bullying behaviors hidden behind good looks, popularity, smooth talk, high performance, a nice outfit and charm.
We are adults now. We don’t need to continue fawning and kiss up to bullies.
We can stop making excuses. We can believe our eyes, ears and research.
Our schools, homes and workplaces will thank us.
Who’s with me?