This week is Anti Bullying Week. How do I know this? Because Little L (aged 6 and a half) has come home with dreams of joining the “Anti-Bullying Alliance” (it might not actually be called that but you get the gist). He is so determined to stand up to bullies and stand up for those who are being bullied it makes my heart swell with pride (and worry me a little but there you go). The slogan for Anti Bullying Week is “All Different, All Equal” which is just fabulous in my humble opinion
I was bullied at school. I was called names for a variety of reasons. People will pick on you for anything if they want to bully you, you can be the most beautiful person with the best personality and they will still find something (I’m not referring to myself there – obviously just making a point). You can be too tall, too short, too fat, too thin, spotty, glasses, big ears, nose, the clothes you wear. It goes on and on and on. It can be for things that you cannot change, or things you chose – the band you listen to the kind of books you read the films you enjoy.
Bullying carries on into adulthood, in the workplace and even more so lately, on the internet. Being a blogger I open myself up to criticism, I appreciate that. I write my feelings down and put them “out there” for the world to read (I say world, I mean my mum and my mate’s cat). Bloggers, I have found, are a strange breed. Most of us are actually quite sensitive souls considering what we do and the subjects we write about. And some of us can dish it out but are incapable of taking it – but that’s another story. Sometimes people don’t like what I write or they just don’t like my face or politics or whatever and they can comment and hide behind their computer, faceless. I wrote a piece about gentle parents (do give it a read, I’m quite proud of that one). Crikey! I got some stick for that from the *cough* “gentle parents” *cough*. It would seem that people just don’t seem to be able to practice what they preach.
I have spoken at length about online bullying with Monsieur Incidental, there is something quite fascinating about “trolling” and the mindset behind it. He reads a lot of online forums and trolling is rife. Even in the gaming community – what is there not to like? Goodness only knows. I can only envisage a person, drunk on rage, sat in their undercrackers bashing away furiously at their keyboard. “You said gentle parents weren’t very gentle with other parents. Who do you think you are? I bet you didn’t breastfeed” Errr what the? And yes. That was one of the comments I received. People are twats. Put them behind a computer, or a tablet or phone and their twattishness increases 100 fold, it’s a scientific fact (it’s not btw). It’s scary though, these people are unlikely to have the whatevers to come up to me in the street and say these things, it wouldn’t be socially acceptable. So how come it is OK to do it from a computer? Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy a debate, we don’t all share the same point of view, but there’s a difference between disagreeing with someone and verbally attacking them. Once you’ve put your point across why not call it a day? Why get in to a slanging match? It achieves nothing apart from to belittle someone.
Now this is what concerns me. I have a certain sense of humour. I’m sarcastic. I take the piss. I do it to myself and I do it to others. I don’t intend to belittle anyone, my intention is to make people laugh (and ultimately like me, because, you know I’m a little bit needy). I don’t take the piss out of people that I don’t think can take it. I KNOW there is a difference. But when does it become bullying? Bullying is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as “using superior strength or influence to intimidate someone”. I don’t think I have superior influence and I certainly don’t have superior strength. But it’s certainly made me question my behaviour and look at my motives. I guess what I’m trying to say is step back, think about what you’re going to say, or indeed write, and why you’re about to say it. Are you intentionally trying to hurt someone’s feelings? And for the parents among us, how would you feel if someone treated your children that way? I am certainly going to try to be more kind (for about 5 minutes. Now piss off).