Being the target of a bully sucks. I recently heard of someone who was being bullied on an online social site. Here are some trademark qualities of the bully:
- They create fake accounts to hide their identity
- Their comments are cruel and seek to de-humanize their victim
- They do it in a public forum meant to embarrass the target
- Any response is met with mockery and additional cruelty
- They know you, but you don’t know them which gives them a tactical advantage
- They are persistent and clever, they will bypass any security measures
- They seek for you to crumble, quit the internet and have a nervous breakdown
Bullying is as close to torture as most people can experience. It psychologically fucks with you in a way that is damaging for a long period of time. I still remember times as a child when I was bullied. The hurt does not go away. Time does not heal this wound.
However, it does not mean you are defenseless. Online bullying can be fought. Here are some tips:
Rule #1: Do NOT feed the trolls!
- Ignore them – Radio Slience. Bullies thrive on interaction where they can control the dialog. Do not give them a chance to interact. Do not speak to them, do not argue with them, do not try to bully them back. You will lose this battle. Ignore them. Ignore them, Ignore them. Pretend they are invisible. Never let them see you sweat. Do not feed the trolls!
- Delete their messages whenever they arrive. Treat them as spam. Like a Viagra email. Try not to think of it as a person attacking you. Imagine a lifeless computer was programmed to hurl insults at people randomly. It’s just a bot. Erase. Treat it like brushing your teeth. It’s not fun, but you gotta do it each day. De-humanize your attacker. Brush your teeth, delete their messages, eat your breakfast.
- Block their accounts. They will make new fake accounts. This is fine. Make them work. Get good at blocking accounts. Make it a streamlined process, bookmark the right page. It doesn’t stop them, but they might as well have to work to annoy you.
- Have pity, not anger. These people, these bullies are hurting themselves. People who are happy and at peace with the universe do not bully people. These people deserve our pity. They lash out at us because of their lives, not ours. They may feel ugly, so they say YOU are ugly. It’s a defense mechanism. When you pity someone, it lowers your own anxiety. We can’t control what the world does, but we can control the stories we tell ourselves about why it is the way it is.
Once, my son started receiving text messages from an acquaintance. He received 1 text every 3-5 seconds, non-stop. In other words, the attacker made his phone completely unusable. He couldn’t block the sender because the phone was in perpetual beep/text received mode. It was a denial-of-service attack. He was understandably distraught. I was ultra-tense about it as well.
Bullies can be ingenious about their attack method. They are quite clever. If only that creativity and persistence were targeted towards the public good. We could solve world hunger. (or something)