Sunday, June 8, 2008

Most Hateful of All Things: Adult Bullying


A lot of discussions have been taking place regarding bullying, both face to face and online. We are concerned, and rightly so, about the physical and psychological damage done to bullied children and young adults.

Unfortunately, it's not just students who are subjected to the pain of being bullied.

I have recently witnessed instances of adult online bullying. One person felt so threatened that he/she shut down all personal interactive sites, including Facebook, a blog, and Twitter. Another has withdrawn from commenting and only lurks where once he/she was an enthusiastic participant.

Many of us verbally spar with Twitter friends or leave dissenting comments on postings. Yet most of us understand the line dividing teasing from tormenting.

This is my public declaration that if I ever become aware of deliberate, persistent bullying taking place in Twitter, or in any of my other online spaces, I will publish the name of the bully and the nature of the taunting.

I won't tolerate bullies, and neither should anyone else.



"Most fatal, most hateful of all things is bullying." -D.H. Lawrence


"pain d'epices" by Mzelle Biscotte

26 comments:

Linda said...

I just picked up today's paper and saw that June is National Internet Safety Month. All agree online bullying is more the concern than sexual abuse by predators. MY concern is that some of the bullies we know are lurking in the adult social networking sites we frequent(AKA TWITTER) are the TECHNOLOGY TEACHERS supposedly teaching children about online safety and etiquette. Really serious on this point. Some of the cases I am aware of were perpetrated by technology instructors. How can we take them seriously when they are acting worse than the kids they are supposed to teach? This is a travesty. NECC should hand out nametags that include "Hello, My name is _______ and I am a cyber bully." Something about the power player wannabes .........

Ben said...

It's definitely sad when those entrusted to be role models are modeling negative behaviors.

Even offline, there are teachers that bully others. In my limited experience these individuals are loud and create a major stink if anything doesn't go the way they like. In essence, they attempt to intimidate others to their viewpoint (or at least to not wanting to go through the confrontation).

I applaud you for taking this stand, though urge caution in prematurely calling out potential bullies. More professionals in education need to take a stand against their peers who are bullying, whether online or in person.

murcha said...

It is difficult to believe that adults can bully other adults. That bullying will continue on in their children and the cycle will be difficult to break. When technology teachers take part, it is even worse.
Is it that they feel they are so high up the web2.0 ladder that there is little tolerance for those who are just starting out?

Clay Burell said...

Is it me, or are things getting weird in the e'blogger world?

(It's probably me. These are surely isolated cases in a much warmer sea.)

But I love your spunk.

diane said...

Linda,

You are my St. Michael, righteous defender of the helpless and victimized. An Angel, in truth.

Ben,

Wherever there's power - real or perceived - there's the potential for the abuse of that power. I'm no hothead (anymore) but I won't tolerate bullying in any situation. Without intervention, child bullies become adult bullies. If we ignore the problem in our schools, it does not go quietly away.

Murcha,

Sad that those entrusted to teach & lead others abuse that trust.

Clay,

Perhaps the instances are isolated, but not as rare as one might hope.

My "spunk" is the mother instinct spilling over into other areas - NO ONE messes with my children! And anyone being taunter or harassed is my child.

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

I haven't encountered any online, but there are plenty of real life (i.e. at work bullies) that I encounter daily. I fight the battles worth fighting and figure I'll leave the rest up to the Karma Cops.

As far as online bullying, I've heard plenty of stories of co-workers' children having all kinds of rumors about them started and spread through MySpace. I'm glad I've had only positive experiences networking online.

diane said...

Jackie,

I have no doubt at all that you handle most workplace bullies with your usual intelligence and charm.

But don't be afraid to ask for help if things get out of hand. Bullying should never be ignored or downplayed. And you deserve so much better than that!

diane

Anonymous said...

@1938media carried out quite a blatent bullying campaign against Shel Israel and now appears to be starting this week on Dave Winer - http://twitter.com/1938media/statuses/851301729

This appears to be left unchallenged by A lister tech people which makes it even sadder.

RY said...

" have recently witnessed instances of adult online bullying. One person felt so threatened that he/she shut down all personal interactive sites, including Facebook, a blog, and Twitter. Another has withdrawn from commenting and only lurks where once he/she was an enthusiastic participant." I am an online student from CT. And I am being tag teamed by two older women. They are antagonizing me and taunting me in a way that they couldn't get in trouble for. But they know what their purpose of doing it is. I don't want the professoer to think I'm crazy, what do I say to her? These 2 women said that I was intentionally making rude comments to them and I wasn't! Everything is there on the discussion tool to prove it! what do I do?

diane said...

ry,

I thought a lot about how to respond to you.

You should definitely contact your professor to report comments that are making you feel uncomfortable. Actually, if this is a public (within the confines of the course) conversation, the person facilitating should have already privately mailed the harassing participants to give them a warning.

Bullying is bullying, face to face or online, and you have the right to demand such tactics stop immediately.

Try to ignore the bullies, don't respond to them in any context.

If the professor doesn't acknowledge the seriousness of this problem, get in touch with an administrator.

Please, let us know how your situation is resolved.

Brigitte said...

I am trying to reach my professor but no luck so far. I try to ignore the email but they are doing exactly what I quoted in my last post!!! I am so angry. Plus one of the women thinks she is a comedian so the professor seems like she might take her side. they are always chatting about this and that together. How do I approach my teacher without sounding paranoid or over dramatic?

diane said...

Are you a student in the U.S.? Our country has supposedly become more sensitive to harassment.

I would tell the professor that the behavior makes you feel uncomfortable and is affecting your class work. Be as calm and matter-of-fact as possible.

Firmly state that you will pursue this further, if the professor doesn't take care of the problem. Then do so.

Peter said...

While I definitely don't fall into the "bully" category, I sometimes challenge my network regarding certain issues/ideas. Sometimes, I use language that, while *I* feel it to be no big deal, others see it as rude (e.g. once I called an idea "bullshit"). I think what I can do better is to continue to challenge ideas yet continually remind myself that challenging other's ideas online is different than living-room dialog with those who I'm familiar with in meatspace.

It's too bad that there are those who purposefully antagonize others in personally threatening and demeaning ways. I'm not aware of the tech teachers Linda mentioned who are bullying others. Drop me a note if you have any names so I can keep my eyes and ears open.

diane said...

Peter,

Your postings - at least the ones I've seen in blogs and on Twitter - tend to challenge beliefs but with no intent to cause pain.

I've never sensed any nasty undertones; believe me, I'd block you if I had.

Thanks for making me think.

Anonymous said...

I have recently been a target of online bullying. It was so bad that I had to delete my account. They ridiculed me and called me names. They had no remorse about my feelings what so ever. They just had their fun jumping on me and verbally attacking me. I am an adult too with feelings, you would not think that such action would happen but unfortunately it does. Sad to say, this kinda thing has happened to me several times on celeb sites. I am to the point now that I will not bother posting on such sites, who needs that hassle.

diane said...

It sounds to me like you made a very mature decision not to post in sites where you feel you are a possible target.

Unfortunately, most students are unable to exercise that level of judgment.

I'm sorry you had to experience that - it's never pleasant, no matter what age you are.

Anonymous said...

i just found your blog--thank you for addressing this topic. for what i think is the first time in my adult life, i was the target of a bully today. it was the headmaster of my son's school. he told me that if i didn't stop complaining about my son's teacher, who believes in humiliation, ridicule and extensive punishments, he would expel my son. this is the first and only time i have ever tried to talk with the headmaster face-to-face, and it will be the last. he tolerates the teacher's behavior because it is in line with his ideology.

he repeatedly told me he has no problem with my son, it was with me. this is a private school and i live in a place where it is difficult to find a "safe" public alternative--our surrounding public schools have all received a failing grade by the state. we were so happy to have my son at this school and now we are crushed. adult bullies do, indeed, take many forms. i am stuck.

Anonymous said...

I have just come across this, thank you for posting it. I too have deleted facebook & other public sites I was on I have left, due to intimidation, mass emails sent out against me...in such a small area of the interest I joined, its hard to belive why grown people would be so nasty when you know in your heart, that youdo not deserve their anger and nastiness. Sadly, people will always follow these instigators, and I guess from around 15 friends I have about 5 left. Well, it hurst! They may not be *real life* friends, but when you are just joining these groups for a coomon interest in a collectable hobby, well, it just puts you out in the cold, in a horible lonely place. I figured, that it is all down to jealousy. "Why is she/he on your friends list?". Pathetic. Adults can be far worse than children. And bullying is a terrible thing for anyone, at any age to go through. I will NEVER use a social site again, its put me off forever! I just want to do my own thing, and enjoy my hobby in peace :)

diane said...

I'm sorry you were put through such an ordeal. I hope that some day you will find a more congenial group and be able to enjoy the benefits of social networking.

corvus_corvidae said...

Thank you for your blog. I, too, have experienced online bullying, and started a blog about Website Admininstrators who hide behind that title while Bullying.

I am on the autism spectrum, and found the entire experience frustrating, to say [type] the least.

Some of my acquaintances were Bullied too, by mere association. These people paid money to support her site, and were bullied, silenced, and banned.

best,
belle

diane said...

Belle,

Bullying of all types - online or in real life - is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with more aggressively by schools.

When it comes to bullies, zero tolerance should be the norm.

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This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

This is rather embarrassing as I am 60yrs old, but at present I am being bullied by a fellow online, board poster. We have been posting on a soundbite board for nearly 2yrs. I recently discovered that he is doing all the posts (in disguise). He is highly intelligent and very clever and we had a good rapport. But then he started abusing me, calling me a freak and talking and laughing about me to fellow posters (all himself)in disguise. He left a phone no. at one point and I'm very tempted to call him and ask him why he is doing this to me. Do you think that would be wise?

diane said...

There is a lot of information available regarding how to deal with a cyberbully, for example
http://www.ehow.com/how_5648287_deal-cyberbullying.html

I would NOT suggest contacting this person by phone.

If the bullying becomes more aggressive or you fell threatened in any way, please contact the police.

Unfortunately, bullies exist in every age group. Good luck in addressing this problem.

Viagra said...

Did they now learn anything in school on how awful bullying is?

Elliott Broidy said...

Some people never grow up.