Bullying a Bully

We’ve all heard the news stories of kids committing suicide because of cyber bullying. In the beginning I always thought, ‘how could someone do that to someone else so publicly and not be stopped?’ Since then, I’ve had much more experience seeing cyber bullying first hand, and I saw that it was so much more complicated than that. I’d always so naively assumed it was a white and black line. There were the bullies and there was the victim. The bullies had to have been heartless, soulless a-holes trying to pick on the weakest target for their own happiness. But after seeing it for myself, it was just so much more complex than that.

I should start by saying not all cyber bullying is the same. There’s so many different types of it from harassment of someone for being homosexual or just picking on the outcasts in a community. However, the specific cyber bullying I want to talk about right now is the bullying by the people that are “anti-bullying”. This was the most surprising/shocking thing that I’ve discovered over the past year. If you asked people if they were against bullying, the vast majority of them would say yes. However, what I saw over the past year was people bullying others in the name of “anti-bullying”.

The “victim” told their story of being cyber bullied to their friends. Their friends immediately lit their torches and grabbed their pitchforks and went after the “bullies”. These were people I considered to be nice, good people. They were just protecting their friend by going after his/her bully, right? Well, I was there that day, and I watched it happen. People who I knew to be the kindest, most welcoming and friendly people were saying the most horrible things to other people they believed were bullies. They were literally bullying them in their effort to stop the bullying. Later, as it turned out, the entire thing was just a misunderstanding and the “victim” was not in fact “bullied” by the person he/she thought they were bullied by.

This misunderstanding severely hurt two good people just because someone said they had been bullied by them. They were the real victims in that situation, and I stepped in and cleared the misunderstanding before it could go any further. I was dumbfounded that people would automatically respond to bullying with more bullying. The reason I write this today is to hopefully shed some light on this lesser known type of bullying. Bullying a bully does not make someone any better than the bully just because they think the bully deserves it. Too often people come to me saying they want to go at the throats of the people they believe are being bullies. But if we attack all the people we believe are bullies, that only perpetuates that cycle of hate and bullying. Also, as I described in the case above, sometimes they might not have even been the bully they assumed them to be.

The mob reaction by friends trying to go after a “bully” only spreads more hate and it doesn’t solve the bullying problem. The people they go after will want to retaliate and escalate the fight, usually saying something along the lines of “they made a mistake coming after me, I will end them!” Of course, they’re not thinking of themselves as being a bully in that situation. Neither side is. They both feel the other is the real bully and they don’t care how hurtful they’re actually being because they think they’re only attacking a bully. If you trace it back to the beginning, it’s usually something innocuous that turned into a misunderstanding and should have easily been resolved by dialogue instead of fighting. So I hope reading this makes people think twice before going after someone they believe to be a bully. Even if they are, bullying a bully will not fix the initial problem. It will only perpetuate that cycle of bullying and make it worse.

The best way to deal with someone who is being rude is to have someone calmly go talk to them. We’re all human and make mistakes so just asking them what’s wrong is always better than immediately hating them for what they said. Of course, sometimes they might just be an incredibly hateful and rude person, and in that case it’s best to avoid them. But sometimes they’re actually a good person just going through a tough time and just talking with them about it might deescalate the situation and even lead to a resolution.

And that’s what’s in my head, thanks for reading! 😀