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Monday, June 24, 2013

Bits of Advice

One of the hardest things to deal with in Geekdom is the issue of bullying. We've all been there, worn that target on our back like a shiny bit of bling. The advice we are given seldom varies and almost never works. We are a gentle mild mannered lot until you put a light saber or a phaser in our hands, then we go a little Jayne & Vera acting out our fantasies of strength and heroism. And yes I meant to separate the two as I did.

We fantasize about being strong because we perceive ourselves as weak. Mental acuity is not seen as a strength because we are too busy comparing muscle masses. We abide by the rules about 98% of the time because the rules give us a place to work on our sphere of Geekdom unmolested. Mostly. That is a strength as well. But we do not see it. Geeks have a tendency to default to nice because we avoid social situations as a habit. Some of us may not be nice but because we are not seen as being actively mean we pass muster. Geeks are a passive lot and passive is not perceived as strong. Geeks fail to see their own strength because the world increasingly looks at one set of data to determine strength: physical prowess. We lack this in abundance. And we love our superheroes because they are everything that we are not AND the best of what we are.

We fantasize about heroism which is strength of character as well as strength of body. We have the character. We understand justice. We are in life for the long haul. It is hard to be a geek and have a lot of people targeting you. Every day is a struggle against conformity, against the slow march to mediocrity, to stand behind your principles in the face of adversity. We face our own Mordor and seek the strength to keep going, to subject the Ring to a purifying fire and save the world.

We fantasize in the hope that enough mental pretending will bring a result into reality. We fantasize to keep focused on the Justness of our stance so that we do not fall in with morass of the majority. We fantasize that it is okay to be a geek without ever really getting to the point where we can be comfortable in that very assertion.

Our fantasies somehow reinforce the target. We assure ourselves of the rightness of our behavior, thoughts, goals and life choices in the privacy of our own minds. But that never really translates into an open message to the world that we will not be bullied. When faced with the bullies we capitulate as if we never believed we could ever be resilient. And the circle is forever unbroken.

Let's face it, we aren't all the skinny Big Bang nerds those guys are. And not all bullies are built of brawny sinew. A lot of the bullies are like that little dog palling around with Spike in those cartoons, small, wiry, constantly yapping for attention. And when they have yapped for the wrong attention and get it then they cry that they are being bullied. Cowardice all around. Those are the worst kind of bully. They take your good nature and turn it against you.

You have already been a target because you throw off the curve. And like most geeks, you don't have any boundaries because you took the mandate to be nice WaaaaaayYYYYy too literally. So you are making them look bad just by your existence and you let them keep doing it because you know that a bully operates from low self esteem and you don't want to make it worse. At least I do. And then that is where all the advice comes in that does more harm than good.

The first bit of bad advice: Ignore it.
Are you kidding me? Has that, in the history of Geekdom, EVER worked? No. Ignore the first insults and all they do is dig a little deeper to find the one that will work. They are looking for the button that hits 10,000 volts of supercharged pain, knowing that you will lash out because there is no other human response to that kind of pain. It is an automatic function of humanity to make pain stop. And if that means finally lashing out to cancel the negative energy from them with an equal amount of negativity from you then so be it. It is the law of harmonic resonance. It works. Ignoring them does not.

If you happen to be very Zen about insults, believing that only sticks and stones will hurt you and that name calling is harmless then all you will have to do it wait. Because if you ignore the name calling long enough the sticks and stones will come out.

Second bit of bad advice: Walk Away
It is similar to ignoring someone. But ignoring someone in the first bit, implies that you are sitting/standing/studying in close proximity to someone who is taunting you. Think classroom and you fresh out of hall passes. In a situation where you can not leave, school or work, you are stuck trying to drown them out with them right in your ear. In this bit, your advisor is advocating that you physically remove yourself in addition to the mental barrier.

That is great advice for flash floods or avoiding a bank robbery when you see men in masks entering ahead of you. Not great advice for stopping a bully. Why? Because nothing guarantees that they won't follow. And like good little zombies.... they ALWAYS follow you. They follow you because walking away is passive. It is you playing mouse to their cat. Think about it. What is a sure fired way to make a cat pounce? Move. Slowly. Deliberately while trying not to attract attention. The Geek Bully Relationship is the same as any game involving prey. Bullies stalk you to find your weekness then they exploit those weaknesses. Walking away just makes the game more interesting.

Where are you going to go that they won't find you? Not only is it impossible to force them to quit following you, it teaches you to run. You learn better covert skills that is certain. You learn to camouflage yourself from the bullies. But it also teaches you to run away from everything else. The harder life gets the better you get at running away. And you never really get to live. You get to exist. But it is not the same thing.

Third Bit of Bad Advice: Pray for Karmic Intervention
Since when has Karma ever operated on any time but Hers? You could wait a lifetime for karma to catch up to your bully. And at that point you may be only one of a hundred victims. This is passive. It take the first two bits of bad advice into to the realm of Genie Wish-fulfillment and teaches you nothing about self sufficiency. All this advice does is teach you to pray for the Hero. It doesn't teach you to BE a Hero.

Fourth bit of bad advice: Seek a Teacher
Or if you are an adult, a person in a position of authority. That trick never works either. Why? Because most people don't want to get involved. This is especially true at work. They don't want to deal with it because it challenges the ease with which they go through their day. And they have the same blinders on that teachers in school do: Angel face. All it takes is one angelic, "But I didn't do that." and a bit of a pouty lip and your charge of bullying is dismissed while your position is diminished as you now wear the moniker of Cry baby or Alarmist. And because your "false" accusation exists you have lost all future credibility.

Teachers, supervisors just don't want to believe that kids can be THAT rotten. They know that they are. But they don't want to deal with it. This is especially true with a person in authority who is so used to skating on the bare minimum that your tiff with another kid jeopardizes their position.

The best advice for the Geek being bullied is the Unspoken Endorsement.
It is the bit of advice that you happen upon accidentally. Think Ralphie. He finally cracked and let the bully have it complete with cussing and the breaking of glasses. it is the principle of Harmonic Resonance at work. And it always works. Think about it.

Why don't the big kids pick on other big kids?
Why does a hyena attack the sick, the small and the last in line?
Why does a snake steal eggs from a nest when the parent is gone?
Why do pet owners believe the big dog did the destroying while the small cat sleeps perched in the window?

Bullies and hyenas will almost always lose a fair fight. Go against an evenly matched foe and the bully will fold like an accordion. Stealth mode is another word for sneaky. And snakes know they will lose in a fair fight. And the bully always wins because it wears the face of innocence even when it is guilty while the victim wears the rage face of righteous justice. The strong go after the weak because that is the circle of life. And the weak stay weak because we are taught that weakness and meekness are the same and that we will eventually inherit the good life.

Weakness and meekness are NOT the same. Weakness is a health hazard. Weakness allows you to be assaulted physically, verbally, sexually, financially, emotionally and in character. Neither Jesus nor any self respecting philosopher would ever condone being a door mat. Meekness is a choice to not use your inherent strength to oppress someone. The only way to stop being bullied is to convince the bully to move onto a different target. Show your strength. You are only being picked on because they know they can. Fight back. Make them doubt their initial assessment.

The kid that is constantly beat up because he allows himself to will always be beaten. Until the day he reaches the point in which he can draw the line in the sand and go Ralphie on him he will always be the punching bag. The minute you throw a fist back at a bully you have found your protection. THAT is your armor. Did Ralphie get into a lot of trouble? No. Was he afraid he would? Yes. And that fear is what stopped him. But he hit that point in which the torment was too much. And his mother let his stance be his stance. He was not forced into an apology he didn't feel right about and that the kid didn't deserve.

Violence as a means of daily operation is no good for society. But if you have to defend yourself then you have to defend yourself with as strong a weapon as that which is aimed at you. And you have to be okay with it. There are consequences to self defense. There are a hundred ways that it can backfire. But bullies have to be stopped.

Bullies lack self esteem and healthy coping mechanisms. I know. In my life I have had many. And I have met them later in life. They stopped bullying others when they found the skills to navigate life. The ones who stopped are the one who went out and found those skills or accepted the ones that they were offered before they knew they needed them. But the people who are 60 and still bullying others have chosen to remain locked in that position of low self esteem, rejected the tools that they were offered and chose to remain less than what they could be. They chose that and there is no reason to let them ruin your life because they ruined their own.

The Unspoken Endorsement: Stand Up For Yourself.
I endorse that.

It isn't any easier a path that the rest of them. But you gain XP and Strength points against the next encounter. And that is the only way to get them .


  1. I comfort myself knowing that cyberbullies lead such sad ineffectual and lonely lives that this is the only way they feel that they can be heard. But it doesn't inspire others to admire or like them. Quite the opposite in fact!
    No one has the right to make you feel bad.
    Don't give them the slightest bit of ammunition to use against you and keep all your personal details 'personal'
    They love to create conflict and play one member of a website or forum off against another.The bully then sits back and gains gratification from seeing others engage in destructive behaviour towards each other.

    Most serial bullies are also serial attention-seekers. More than anything else they want attention. It doesn't matter what type of attention they get, positive or negative, as long as they can provoke someone into paying them attention.

    It's like a 2-year-old child throwing a tantrum to get attention from a parent. The best way to treat bullies is to refuse to respond and to refuse to engage them - which they really hate.

    In other words, do not reply to their postings, just carry on posting without reference to their postings as if they didn't exist. In other words, treat nobodies as nobodies!

  2. Thanks for the comment Linda. Of course you are right about the cyber bullies. And of course they are like two year olds. Sadly though, I speak of bullies at my work place. It is impossible to keep everything private. And try as I might to shut them out that only makes them whine that I am being mean and exclusionary.

    I really should update this post. I still advocate a strong defense for a physical bully. And I am researching good options for the emotional/scholastic bullies. It would seem that when we reach 40 *cough ahem cough* most everyone forgets that some people do not grow up or assumes that everyone has advanced into adulthood. So pointing out the behavior as that of a 2 year old seems as far fetched as the Big Foot.

    I will figure it out one day. In the mean time... Nobodies remain nobodies :)