I tend to write a blog post when there's something I want to expand on a little but not include in my current book projects. But I may revisit the themes later. I can touch-type reasonably well, a skill I learnt as teenager. My hand writing is usually very messy and I tend to journal more in my own form of shorthand and loose mindmaps.
The topic for this blog post is bullies and brats. Just to get some ideas out that are going through my head, so that I can get back to focussing on my current book project. Linked to my memoir but this is not directly going into my memoir, as I want to focus on the storyline.
I just want to say, that the more you put out about yourself, online, the more people can use this against you. Despite my seemingly being open online about some aspects of my life, there's actually a lot of things most poeple don't know about me.
My lived experience has shaped my views.
When I lived in a hostel for a year, with druggies and boozers, an ex-convict (assessory in murder) asked me, 'I heard you were a teacher? What school did you teach at?'
I told him. Before my son was born, I was a high-school science teacher for a fairly short time in my life. Perhaps one day, I'll write more about the hostel, teaching etc.
'Respect,' he said, looking obviously impressed. He said he was impressed, mainly because that school has a reputation for being one of the toughest in the country. I only stayed there a year and I didn't teach for long afterwards but I did learn a lot working with socially disadvantaged students, who were written off by the system.
People are also surprised to find out that I am a mother, of a young adult. Partly because they are shocked to find out that I'm older than I look. I'm used to people saying how shocked they are when they find out my age (I'm 50) as they assumed I was at least 10-15 years younger, based on my appearance. I usually don't wear makeup.
Psychologists described my son as 'challenging to parent' but to keep in mind longterm goals that those traits that make parenting extra challenging can be valued later in the workplace. One of the keys is consistent boundaries. I recall a psychologist saying 'challenging to parent kids teach you more.'
My son's perspective when he was older was, 'I was a full-on kid.' Yes, he sure kept me on my toes, and I love him lots.
I used to have a long-term interest in pets and amateur dog training. I've cared for a lot of pets in the past. Clients were in awe how their pets responded to me. I actually used some of the same techniques I used with parenting and teaching. Calm yet assertive. No yelling. Made clear my expections. I do recall when a class of senior chemistry students went silent, eyes wide, when I said quietly yet firmly that I will not tolerate bullying in my class (they laughed at a boy who had autism spectrum traits).
By the way, yelling at people is loss of control. I've scared the living daylights out of people being quiet. Quiet and assertive is way more effective.
Most dogs (and humans) are motivated by getting attention. It's actually quite easy to shape behaviour in most cases, by giving attention for wanted behavior and withdrawing attention for unwanted behaviours. Now some extremists will say that's being mean. Yet, these are the same people that can't manage a dog, can't parent a child, as they are too permissive. Being too permissive is almost as harmful as being too strict.
Either extreme of too permissive or too strict/authoritarian results in increased anxiety. Also, completely disinhibited behaviours can be a safety issue.
Tip here that applies to both raising children and pets: acknowledge when doing wanted behaviours, even if just seeming to be doing nothing much at all, like relaxed. Self-regulating to calm is an important skill.
Brats and bratty behaviour
Which leads me to talking about bratty behaviour. From my experiences with teaching, parenting, dog training etc, and my obvervations of human and animal behaviour (humans are animals, by the way), I have learned that bratty behaviour is attention-seeking.
I believe a lot of bratty behaviour is mainly because one did not get enough healthy attention when younger, so act out. Some bratty behaviour can be exaggerated with certain challenges such as those that might meet criteria for a diagnosis.
It's not just kids who can behave like brats. Adults can too. I see it a LOT on social media. If someone doesn't get healthy attention, they will get it anyway they can, including by acting out.
Also, bratty behaviour isn't an identity. It's something most people can do, at least some of the time. Although, I do tend to call people brats if they make this their main objective in life. Often, they do it for entertainment. It can be banter but this can easily escalate to bullying and abuse.
bullies and bullying
I see bullying as a role, rather than an identity. Anyone can be a bully or a victim (also a role). Victimhood is unhealthy as an identity. The same person can be in the role of a bully and a victim at times. It's about perceived power.
A psychologist told me that people bully because they don't feel good about themselves. So they tear someone else down. Bullying is intimidation of someone else, so that person feels weaker and helpless. It is unfortunately very common in schools, in workplaces and on social media.
Bullying on social media is often called cyberbullying. Social media can be especially dangerous, as bullying can take place in mobs. It's very easy for strangers to temporarily join forces in mobs to attack someone and some actually take pleasure in doing so. It can have terrible consequences, including depression and suicide. Note that manipulative bullies will accuse those who defend themselves as being the bullies. Then try to delete the evidence.
Many people use bullying and abuse interchangeably. I understand bullying is about targeting an intimidating an individual. Abuse is broader ill-treatment and it can be more complex. It can involve abuse of power, child abuse, domestic abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse etc. Abuse takes place in all forms of settings including schools, home, workplaces, government.
does ignoring bullying and abuse work?
The advice typically given (by police, schools, cyberbullying support agencies) is to ignore bullying and to not engage with those doing the bullying and abuse.
From my observations and experience, this doesn't always work. It can actually make things worse. It will just continue, if someone doesn't step in.
My son was severely bullied at school. He was spat on and punched in the stomach by the ringleader bully. When he reacted, my son was punished. The school were useless. Bleated their 'zero tolerance policy' but did nothing. I sorted out the ringleader myself. I used a quiet I-mean-business voice with no actual threats but I think I communicated well and clear that 'you don't want to mess with me, you litte sh!t' without saying those exact words. I said, 'stop.' The kid stopped. That's all it took. Some actual boundaries, probably for the first time in this kid's life.
Then another kid decided to bully my son, with mocking and name-calling. This was more of a betrayal, as the kid had pretended to be his friend. My son was upset and retailated and gave the boy a black eye. My son was excluded from school.
Online, ignoring abuse and bullying doesn't work, in my experience. I am selective in what I ignore. Being mob bullied for expressing an opinion that goes against what a group are indoctrinated to believe, is not on. It's actually one of the reasons that I reject ideologies, even though it's been a long-term special interest to observe ideologies and human behaviour.
The advise given by senior management and senior teachers in high schools was to not intervene during fist fights. This is because in the hyperarousal state, anyone who tried to get in the middle, is likely to be punched too. Junior teachers were trained to find a senior staff member who is trained to break up fights.
I've actually broken up a dog fight with dogs from a stranger (she thought it would be okay to have another person's dog visit who clearly didn't get on with her dog). It's risky to break up a fight but no one else was doing a thing, just standing around. I told the woman, who was screaming he dog was going to die, how to assist me. She stopped screaming and we got the dogs apart. They were full of puncture wounds.
How do I deal with abuse and bullying?
Children need to be taught how to treat each other. Otherwise, they grow up into adults wtih the same patterns. Vulnerable people need to be supported. Note, that I don't see vulnerable as being a particular claimed identity (I don't buy into victimhood oppression olympics, one of the most toxic ideologies online). Vulnerability is more situational, no matter what a person's views.
With abuse of myself, it depends on the situation. Part of taking back one's power and being less affected by it is part of the key to having a voice. I have a strong need to have a voice. However, my psychologist said that safety comes first. Therefore, I use social media less and with more care now. I avoid platforms where hundreds of strangers can mob at once. I try to avoid political topics (politics gets attention but it's unhealthy, toxic and not what I want to focus on).
Mob bullying is a horrendeously intense experience that can result in worsening of mental health. Bullying can result in anxiety and depression in adults and children.
How I deal with things depends on the motivation and whom I'm dealing with. What a brat wants most, is attention. What a bully wants most is to hurt someone else. Some people play both roles, typically hiding behind a fake profile, lashing out at strangers.
I've had a few long-term brats on my case for a while. Ex-friends. They just want to be popular and profit from it. I don't actually value popularity. Never have. I scorn making money from ideology, especially when ripping off medical diagnoses and twisting them is involved.
I have only bothered to address the brats if the brattiness (attention-seeking) gets out of hand into abuse. They're sneaky, as they're saying something defaming, then delete. Gossiping and lying about me publicly - sometimes I have ignored, other times, when dealing with certain brats, agitating hoping for a reaction, I've given them an unexpected reaction.
Note that things will escalate for a bit if you call out someone's behaviour. Note that engaging in any way is actually giving them attention they crave, even negative attention. It's the withdrawing attention first that's like a kick in the teeth for those who are addicted to validation. I have no obligation to entertain bullies. It's their issues, not mine. I'm not their mommy. Not their therapist.
Brats and bullies can be sneaky and delete, then assume victimhood, to get attention in the form of sympathy and pity. Then, repeat the cycle with more bullying. It's very manipulative.
The sneaky and manipulative bullying is no different to my son getting in trouble and punished for 'being disruptive' after a kid spit in his face. Only on social media, it's easy for others to join in. Same with gangs. The ringleader doesn't usually do the attacks. Just signals to the others wanting status.
I don't intend to make a habit of calling crap out, as I'm avoiding ongoing drama that never ends as much as I can, but one of the most effective callouts I have done was on my old blog. I screenshot the main brats and abusers and posted to a blog post with context. I also corrected the lies, that have gone on for years. The abusive brats kept acknowledging with more abuse, which I screenshot and updated. I did make a few creative insults, mild compared to the lies that they'd told for years. They kept checking back. Then I said I was bored with them. The reaction is 'What will we do now? I'm bored now.' So of they go to the next one for a cheap thrill in their dull lives.
They do it because their lives are so tediously boring that they have to make drama to get some attention. I will admit that sometimes I enjoy banter and drama and I actually write about relationship drama in my books. I also sometimes quite enjoy winding people up (typically as petty revenge). Beware though, winding people up can backfire. This has gone both ways, when I've wound others up and others have wound me up (even though I'm quite hard to wind up).
Mocking can be surprisingly effective, used when necessarily to have someone back off. I've used this tactic if I know well what someone is like. By mocking, this means laughing at them, perhaps with something sarcastic and amusing. Although laughing can be enough. Those who are desperate to be popular can't stand to be laughed at.
There was one time when a bully of a boss was yelling at me that I was stupid. It was one of those laugh or cry situations. I laughed. I couldn't stop laughing. He yelled at me to go to his office. I replied (between laughing) that 'I'm not going to your office to be yelled at in private.' He stormed off to his office, humiliated, as an audience had gathered while he was stomping his feet, having a tantrum. Another senior staff member said after this, 'We thought you were a mouse when we hired you. You're definitely not a mouse.'
I replied, 'This mouse has bite.' I was often judged to be a 'mouse' because I am usually quiet. People are shocked when they underestimate me. I've had people thank me for standing up to bullies. Some people need reminding that they can't stomp all over others. One thing I loathe, is other people trying to control me.
Brats and bullies also do it because they're envious and jealous. It's as simple as that. It's because they don't have a creative bone in their bodies, they don't like how they look, they have no talents, they wanted attention from a particular man etc.
Also, beware if you support someone publicly. I've had target on my back for supporting people who are being mob-bullied, even when I didn't agree with their political views. It takes courage to do so and I wouldn't do it lightly. The reason I have done it is because I am opposed to mobbing. Mobbing is cowardly. It's pathetic.
If you support someone on principle (such as my being opposed to mob-bullying), then you will be guilty by association, by the political extremists who have no comprehension of nuance.
By the way, I loathe politics. So it's actually quite amusing that I founded an advocacy group (that I am no longer part of), that was recognised by official leaders in two countries for bringing about what was called the biggest reform in a generation. I am not personally recognised but the name of the group I started was. The main reasons I loathe politics is the abuse of power and how people get so nasty over their politics. Politics (and I include religious extremism in that) brings out the worst in people.
Minions and side-kicks for prominent brats and bullies don't usually think for themselves. They're just desperate to please the ringleader, who is just a low-life bully. Brats and bully combined can be very manipulative. Although, not very sophisticated about it, as it's obvious.
I don't usually bother wasting my time with brats, bullies and abusers who have a false sense of power because they have plenty of minions willing to do the dirty work. I'm currently being baited by a brat (increasingly doing more bullying) who is smug with false security of lots of minions. Willing to attack on mass from their screens. I've observed this brat for a while (just part of my interest in cult-like ideologies and human behaviour), linked to another brat.
Under the brightly coloured hair, this individual has admitted to feeling bland, broken and worthless. Opt in, opt out identity is all in a hairstyle and perceived popularity and validation on social media. The louder the hair and the more reliance on heavy filters and/or heavy makeup (as a mask) the deeper the insecurities, I've observed. And the least authentic.
That's the only vague references I'm going to give, as I can't be bothered with another war, all for these brats desperate need for validation. Same with the other brats who are also tediously boring (hence latching onto ridiculous identities that can opt out of again). I have better things to do with my time and energy than to entertain these fools. Although, I do observe them like lab rats, with all their predicatible behaviours. Lab brats, where social media is the laboratory, with some social media apps like colonised petri dishes of the worst of human behaviour.
I suspect one of the reasons the brats go for me, is unresolved issues with their own parents/guardians. I no longer make motherhood my identity, although it's just a fact that I'm a middle-aged mother. It's also just a biological fact that I'm female. One brat even said to me she loathed me at first interaction because I didn't validate her, so therefore was like her mother (I don't validate nonsense).
What I do know though, is they end up eating their own. Not real friendships. Just attention-seeking to try to seem cool. It's boring and I don't respect popularity. It's just school playground stuff played out on social media.
Rest assured, those who engage in 'cancel culture' over their pathetic politics will have their turn. They will be cancelled just like that by their supporters. For just saying the 'wrong' thing. They will never be free, as they have to keep regurgitating the doctrine. Even though, I doubt they even believe it themselves. Hence the needing constant validation from strangers, for ego and profit. Although profits from online sources is likely to dry up anytime soon. I've seen some of the brats admit they've basically made themselves unemployable with their online behaviour. Seems the 'self-employment' (living off donations from followers is drying up too).
The most painful thing for them is to be ignored. Hence I rarely name anyone. Unless absolutely necessary, knowing there will be fallout with denial, insults, gaslighting, projection, hypocrisy, fake outrage and armchair diagnoses. I've watched this for a long time. It's predictable. It's all playing pretend. I'm not playing along. I'll just watch at a distance with the popcorn as ideology implodes.
Lesson here: don't make political ideologies your entire identity for online scraps. You're going to have non-stop drama over it. I don't make political ideology my identity. However, I have corrected lies when I felt I needed to. But some people just aren't worth my time.
Can bullies change their ways?
I see bullying as a role, not an identity. Yes, I believe people can change their ways. It will involve addressing the deeper issues though. They will need to do the work themselves, with therapy or whatever. It can be harder to change ingrained patterns.
I believe those who are in positions of influence need to take responsibility to call out the toxic culture of mob bullying and cyberbullying. Same with the bullying and abuse in school and workplaces.
Brat vs Perfect child
Two sides of the same coin: the brat vs the perfect child
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.