A friend of mine asked a question on social media about bullying yesterday.
The day before, I had had a conversation with a different friend where I was trying to understand a concept I don’t believe in that he wholeheartedly believes in.
Because of the previous conversation, I approached the bullying question with “Do I understand what bullying is?”
Proactive Friends & Associates
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Rationalizations for such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size or ability. If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.
Reading that definition, I understand why I’ve only had extremely brief interactions with bullying and why I needed to look up the definition just now in order to discuss it.
It’s this line: “One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power.”
The actual online question was about school bullying. My response to my friend was that I was never successfully bullied in school because I had too many friends.
Her response to me was that being bullied has no correlation to how many friends you have.
She’s absolutely right about that. 😀
It doesn’t matter how many friends you have if none of them are going to *ACT* on your behalf if you have a problem with somebody.
What I should have said is that I was always friends with the power brokers and I was usually one of them, either because of my own skills and popularity or because of my “political” connections to the right kids.
Therefore, by the wikipedia definition, I’ve always been on the winning and RULING side of social and physical power.
Attempting to bully me was a short-term proposition and usually a no-term proposition because kids didn’t want the avalanche that was going to land on them either immediately or in the extremely-near future.
So I knew about the concept of bullying from watching movies, but it always happened in those films to kids that were by themselves and didn’t have the means to retaliate against bullies on their own and didn’t have friends who would tell the bullies to cease and desist and/or give them “what for”.
The only group of mass bullies was the Ducky Boys.
In The Wanderers each group thought that they were against each other UNTIL they needed to crew up to defend themselves against the Ducky Boys.
Other than that, bullies always amounted to 1, 2, or 3 kids at the most. There was no such thing as a crew of bullies because most of them were assholes who hated their lives and wanted to make other kids feel miserable.
It would be some kid who was left back so many times that he was physically larger than the kids in his class, some kids whose parents were richer than the other kids and they felt like being a jerk because of that, some kids who were just plain more evil than other kids.. but it would never be some group of bullies that decided to make a coalition to steal all the other kids’ lunch money… together.
This means that real life bullies were easy to pick off.
It was usually just one kid.
A simple solution, had it been necessary, would have been to gather 4 or 5 kids who were bring robbed for their lunch money by this one kid, catch him alone, and beat the living shit out of him.
This is NOT necessary, however, when the kid can already tell that there are going to be Consequences & Repercussions if he messes with this kid, this kid, or that kid, because they’re all friends with each other and messing with them will immediately cost him more than the fun he got from bullying them was worth.
Which is why I failed to adequately explain the situation to my homegirl by saying I had too many friends… Basically, kids are going to be for you, against you, or neutral. Attempting to bully a kid with a lot of proactive friends means that in the worst case, all of his friends will suddenly be anti-you and you have to come back to school every…. single… day… of… your… life………
In the best case, you can’t count on any of that kids’ friends to help you out when retaliation occurs. This means you don’t get jumped, but the kid doesn’t get pulled off you either.
Even if we exclude physical disincentives, you need kids to talk to in school. You need kids to eat lunch with in school. You need kids to play with at recess. You need kids to invite you to parties. Your social life was half of the reason you were going to school in the first place (I mean, you were going to school because your parents forced you to! 😀 haha), so you didn’t want to screw that all up by threatening a popular kid with proactive friends.
Checks & Balances
So the few times in my life that a kid attempted to bully me, it was always because they weren’t aware of my sphere of influence.
For most of the years before high school, I attended an elementary school that nobody could get into.
This meant that everyone in the school knew everyone else and was aware of the hierarchy.
Yes, some people got snapped on (talked about) and picked on, but I can’t remember a single situation where there was a physical fight before 6th grade. If there were kids that didn’t like each other, they weren’t in the same clique, so there wasn’t any conflict. Same space, different groups. Or no group at all if the kid was a loner.
I had physical fights in junior high school, but that was with friends, not enemies.
What I mean by that is that sometimes, the only way to clear the air in a situation is to trade damage and then be done with the problem.
There was no reason to fight with enemies, if there were any, for the reasons I stated earlier.
I can’t even *REMEMBER* one single name of *ANYONE* that I considered a school enemy before high school. I don’t think that concept existed. You were either friends with each other or minded your own business and spent time with YOUR friends.
Again, according to the wiki definition, I’m discussing CONFLICT and not BULLYING because I always had too much crew to get bullied.
When I went to high school, all of a sudden I was an absolute *NOBODY* in a school full of 3,000 kids! 😀
This is completely different from EVERYBODY knowing who you are whether they like you, dislike you, or don’t give a damn about you.
I didn’t have any internal school fights while I was in high school. I did have fights with these loser creeps who lived NEAR my high school who thought they were tough guys because they would only pop shit when they had you outnumbered.
Since this is a discussion about bullying, I should mention here that by the time I got to high school I detested bullies and was determined not to be one of them. The only fights I had were against kids heavier than I am and taller than I am. I never fought a kid who was talking trash and I felt I had the physical advantage over him. That wouldn’t have proven anything at all. Some people have suicidal tendencies. I hope they get mental help. I’m not interested in beating people up because they feel like getting beaten up.
So I did experience a bullying attempt in high school! 😀
Some dude that I had never seen before and who probably had never seen before stepped to me and was talking all sorts of filth flarn filth as if I gave a flying fuck who he was.
I listened and nodded.
That same day, I pointed him out to my friends in the lunchroom and he received a talking to.
I could see that he understood the situation. I’m pretty sure I never saw or heard from him ever again.
Being the creep he was, he probably failed out by the next year and became a ghost.
All I know is that I wasn’t concerned about this dude for a split second because I could have had him squashed like a bug.
That’s another thing about bullying.. I don’t mind when people attempt it. I understand where they’re coming from. They’re so desperate for a win that they’re willing to put their physical well-being in danger in order to get it… or maybe they aren’t.
I didn’t hold it against the dude I just mentioned (Never got the fool’s name by the way because it was entirely inconsequential. All I needed to know was what he looked like.). I know he was desperate and he thought he was talking to someone without the connections to put his teeth on the curb, so I wasn’t interested in anything happening to him.
I just wanted him to understand why whatever nonsense he was talking about wasn’t going to happen, and that if he tried it in the future, he was going to receive that avalanche that I graciously prevented from landing on his head.
Ask Before Assuming
So my personal relationship to bullying is skewed. Especially compared to loners who don’t have an extensive network of friends.
Prior to that high school situation, there had been a different hours-long bullying attempt made against me while I was in summer camp.
For those who don’t know what that is, summer camp is where city people send their kids during the summer so they can experience nature, forests, lakes, sports, etc.
I had gone to this camp for the first time ever in life, and I was walking around by myself because I can walk around by myself.
That sounds like a funny statement, 😀 but there are lots of “tough guys” scared to death to walk around by themselves, and it’s pathetic and embarrassing.
So if I’m walking by myself, it’s because I can do that, not because I’m *BY* MYSELF.
So I’m walking in camp and this dude arrives next to me with two other dudes and he starts talking some kind of yang which I forget, but he was basically threatening me because he had never seen me before.
I listened and nodded.
Actually, now that I’ve written that twice in the same article.. In my experiences, bullies talk first and act later. 😀 hahaha
In both situations I described, the dudes could have laid hands on me but they didn’t.
What they wanted to do was explain to me why I was going to go along with what they were saying.
Unfortunately for them, In between their threat and the next time they saw me, I had already spoken to my people.
In this case, the bully wasn’t aware that the only reason I had arrived at that particular camp is that I was affiliated with one of the two leaders of the ruling crew in that camp.
To sidebar again.. It would have been in both bullies’ best interests to actually ASK ME A QUESTION when they attempted to bully me. 😀
If either one of them would have asked me who I was down with *BEFORE* talking shit, I would have told them and neither one of them would have continued in their course of action.
Like I said, I have pity for bullies because if the value of your life is making other people feel miserable, your life SUCKS.
So several hours later, I’m sitting with the crew and I see this wannabe-bully walking and I point him out.
We proceed to walk up to him.
Except this time, it isn’t his 3 to my 1. It’s his 3 to my 11.
So now this kid is scared to death. 😀
That’s another reason I have pity for bullies. I’ve seen their demise and it isn’t pretty. You can see/feel/hear how scared they are when they realize they offended the wrong people. They’re never bullies to the end. They suddenly turn into pleading suckers. It’s really embarrassing.
So this kid receives a talking to.
I was fine with that because I was clear that he wouldn’t ever speak to me again in life.
Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t good enough for the crew, which I had zero control over, so he got beaten up.
In hindsight, he probably thinks I requested that, but I didn’t.
He hadn’t laid hands on me, so I felt no need to have hands laid on him.
I just wanted him to be a regular human being and leave me alone.
Which of course is what he did after he caught the beatdown, but I was already clear from seeing his eyes while the situation was being explained to him that he was done for life with trying to intimidate me, and probably wished he had never spoken to me at all and had minded his own business when he saw the new kid on the block.
Cliques & Gangs
So “Bullying” is only available against people on the losing side of social and/or physical power.
Interestingly enough, this is the foundation of every single documentary you’ve ever seen about gangs.
They start out as a group of people being picked on, such as Mexicans in California or Italians, Jews, Russians, or Albanians in NYC, and then that group of people decides to band together for self defense and then it’s off to the races.
Most people’s experiences, however, are that they never crew up.
It’s easier for a bully to attack 12 separate fish as opposed to a school of 12 fish.
Sometimes, it’s deeper than all that… Sometimes, the bully is connected to the owner of the factory and if you beat him up, your father gets fired from his job and your entire family declines.
A clique that I wasn’t in in elementary school was the rich kids. All that meant was that I wasn’t invited to any of their parties. I didn’t actually *want* to go to their parties, but I definitely would have gone at least once to find out why they were coming to school with sunglasses and hangovers in 6th grade. (12 years old when the legal drinking age is 21)
A clique that I wasn’t in in high school was the pot smokers because I’m not a drug addict.
Cliques were basically self-sufficient satellites to the school where there might be some overlap, but for the most part went their separate ways and had no interest in bullying other cliques.
One of the reasons I rarely talk about social issues like bullying, racism, sexism, etc. is that my experiences with all of those elements is unique compared to the average Joe/Josephine.
Growing up in NYC, you have a lot of groups who have their own power and don’t rely on other groups at all.
Growing up in middle America, there might be one game in town, and you’re either affiliated with it or oppressed by it.
Here, Little Italy is right next to Chinatown.
As far as school is concerned, I’ve always had a lot of friends in several of the groups that considered themselves distinct cliques.
Because of this, there’s probably a lot of stuff that’s gone on behind the scenes that I’m not even aware of… People who asked questions about me and were told that I was cool by people they respect, so they decided to choose a different target.
So I never thought about talking about this topic because it doesn’t mean anything to me.
All of the bullying attempts I’ve personally experienced have been immediately quashed.
My experience with bullying is that it’s merely an indication by that person that they need to get got.
Consequences & Repercussions
The current obsession with bullying is because there’s no physical recourse.
As you teach children not to physically defend themselves, you teach them to rely on their mental ability to ward off attackers.
Not everyone can do that.
Personally, I’ll talk about you like a dog until you wish you had never been born.
I *can* do that and I *have* done that.
If you don’t have that ability and you aren’t willing to physically punish people, what do you have left? o_O
Nothing. What you have left is the life of a victim so you’d better learn how to live with it.
When I was a little kid, the line of defense was my parents and the community.
If you had a problem with me, my dad was going to see your dad and then that problem was going to be over, Capisce? 😀
If you didn’t have a dad, my dad was going to see *YOU* and then that problem was going to be over, Capisce? 😀
I didn’t have problems in high school because my friends were going to see you or you knew who my friends were so you didn’t want that pain.
I’m not sure how I would react to bullying if I hadn’t grown up protected.
I grew up protected because I’ve always been a popular person.
I’m still a popular person and I’m still protected, so it’s tough for me to write advice for bullied people.
Another thing is that I was born into a warrior clan. I have an extremely short fuse if I have a fuse at all and I love that action.
This is different from people who strive to avoid conflict at any cost.
I’m fully aware that some things can’t be talked out. Some situations can’t be resolved via reason and intellect.
I don’t know how it feels to think “He took my lunch money.. Oh Well.. I’ll let him take my lunch money tomorrow.”
The cognitive dissonance that occurs for a lot of people is that they don’t want to believe that they’re born victims when they are.
If it doesn’t make you *MAD* when someone attempts to bully you then it doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just realize that that isn’t part of your genetic makeup.
If you’re willing to give up your lunch money every day, there’s nothing wrong with that. You just starve is all. If you’d rather give up eating lunch than decimate the bully that’s stealing from you, that’s the life you life. Get used to it.
You will have ways to defeat bullying or you won’t.
If you don’t, talk to your parents. If your parents won’t do anything about it, talk to the cops.. talk to the school administration.. talk to whoever you perceive to be in charge of ensuring your personal safety.
I’ve never seen a bully continue their behavior within a society in which they’ve taken massive losses.
They don’t stop being a bully in general, but they stop attempting to bully people in that particular society.
If they take enough mental or physical damage, they quit and get a new, less painful hobby.
There’s actually an entire movie about this, which I don’t suggest that you emulate! 😀 haha with “Jimmy Darmody” from “Boardwalk Empire”, Brad Renfro, and “Telly, the Virgin Surgeon” from “Kids”:
The film, as quirky as it is, examines what could happen when one person takes a bunch of other people for granted as suckers and then they decide they’ve had enough of his abuse.
In the end, everybody loses.
It still indicates that there’s a choice other than a life of oppression.
If there’s nothing you can do about it, stop going to school.
If you tell your parents that you don’t want to go to school because you’re being bullied, their options are to do something to remedy that or STFU.
If you think you would fare better in a different environment, request to be transferred to another school or to live with people in a different school zone.
Like I said.. I don’t have any good advice for victims because if anyone had ever stolen my lunch money, they would have paid way more in hospital bills and recuperative physical rehabilitation than what they stole from me.
Assess your current situation. Figure out who’s supposed to be responsible for assuring that you live a comfortable life that’s bully-free. Make sure you remain in contact with them so that when something heads in the wrong direction, the course can be corrected ASAP.
Not everyone is built to repel bullies. There’s nothing wrong with that. Your goal should be figuring out how to alleviate the pressure on your life as soon as possible, whether that means calling in the troops or removing yourself from the oppressive community.
At the end of the day, you only have one life to live. If the people around you don’t understand how you’re living it, that doesn’t matter. If you’re suffering, move away from that pain. It isn’t a permanent aspect of your life because as time goes on, people go their separate ways.
That kid that’s a jerk to you in elementary school will cease to exist when you both go to separate high schools. That kid that’s a jerk to you in high school will cease to exist when you both go to separate colleges. Weather the storm. Fix if if you can. Avoid it if you can’t.
People that don’t even know you are willing to try to help you -> stopbullying.gov/get-help-now/
The best people want better things for people. The worst people want worse things for people.
Your situation isn’t hopeless. Get past this so you can live the life you’re supposed to live.