I'd like to take a moment to talk about adult bullying. I know this is long, but please stick with me.
Bullying. It’s a subject that’s in the news a lot lately. I think, as adults, when we hear about bullying we perceive it as something that happens mainly to kids. I used to think like that, too. Only now, not so much. I’ll preface this by stating this is not about the current political atmosphere (because once I start on that, I might not stop). This is personal.
First, I wanted to know if what I perceived as a bullying incident really was a bullying incident, so I did a little research.
This is what I found. There are three core elements of bullying. The first being intentional hurtful action. Second - the action or actions are repeated over time. Last, but certainly not least, involves an imbalance of power.
You still with me?
You might ask what prompted me to check this out (or maybe you didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway).
Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a strong ally for the LGBTQIA community. Several years ago, I found an amazing, close-knit community of authors and readers. There, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. It’s a welcoming community, everyone seems so sincere and nice, and mostly it’s true. However, I’ve run across the actions of a few that don’t appear so sincere. Or so nice.
I've seen instances where authors are given a hard time because of the way they choose to wear their hair, or who they have as friends are. I’m not sure why anybody would think they have the right to question those personal decisions. These examples of bullying were posted for the whole world to see. Shameful.
There is another type of bullying going on, too. This bullying is sly, deceitful, and mostly transparent.
It’s bullying at its finest, which also happens to be at its worst. It’s talking behind people’s backs. It’s the ganging-up on someone by a group of people. In this case, it happens to be authors ganging up against other authors. Why? Who knows. And you know what? Who cares? It’s wrong. Period.
What pisses me off the most is the intentional pain this causes those who are being bullied. What’s happening is a willful attempt to imbalance power. You don’t like someone? Fine. You want to tell your friends your feelings? Double fine. Everyone needs to vent. What is NOT fine is to pressure others into following along with you. Hence, your attempt to imbalance power. Ganging up on or against someone in any way, shape, or form is wrong.
It’s hurtful. To think that your actions don’t damage the human sprit is naive. No one likes to be talked about. No one likes to be excluded from their friends and peers. To knowingly and willingly cause that, in my opinion, is horrific and despicable. What kind of person does that on purpose? The mind set is just beyond me.
And what’s really despicable is the impact this type of bullying has on a writer’s livelihood. When the bullying among peers is so widespread it affects book sales, it’s clear that this isn’t just a group of people gossiping about their own. They are intentionally trying to thwart a career and destroy a reputation. How would you like that to happen to you as an author? If a group banded together to ruin you?
I’ve seen it in action, and it’s heart-rending, and frankly it pisses me off.
During my research, I found that there are also three types of bullying. Verbal bullying. Physical bullying. Social bullying.
Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. This includes leaving someone out on purpose, telling other people not to be friends with someone, spreading false rumors about someone, or embarrassing someone in public.
Social bullying is what I’m seeing the most of among authors here, and it’s hurtful and destructive. It’s hurtful to those it’s aimed at. It’s hurtful to those who care about those being targeted. It’s also hugely destructive to the community in which I’m so in love with.
Let’s face it, those who participate in bullying look bad. You think readers and other authors don’t notice? Think again. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can, and do, speak for myself. I’ve taken a strong stand against bullying of any kind. I will not knowingly support those who participate in this type of behavior.
You may think that bullying adults doesn’t have the same affect as bullying children, but you are wrong. We all have feelings. We all want to fit in. None of us want to be talked about, excluded, or ganged-up against. For the last year, I’ve watched a malicious campaign against an author or two. The authors don’t deserve what’s happened to them.
I have grandchildren who are school age. They see bullying of all types, day-in and day-out. It is not acceptable to them as children Why should it be acceptable to you as an adult?
If I don’t take a stand here and now, and show them that bullying is not acceptable in the adult world, what am I teaching them?
Please, if you’re a bully, I beseech you to think about the harm you are causing.
If you’re being bullied, please know that you are not alone. Many of us, myself included, stand with you.