Friday, May 20, 2011

Will it ever end?

This week has been quite interesting. However, what grabbed my attention and kept it was the recent two part episode of Dr. Phil entitled Bullies Beware. The viewers got to spend the first part with a self-professed bully. The second episode gave us a 13-year-old young man who was abused by peers in elementary school. He became an abuser by middle school. The kid was quite honest; he said he enjoyed the power that came with being an abuser as it was a rush. He even stated that “he was addicted to bullying.” As he is still in the developmental years, there is a good chance he can be reformed without many complications. Heck even his mother was considered a bully. It seemed as if she owned her bad behavior and was willing to reform in that area. The one that got my goat was this self-professed bully on Monday and part of Tuesday.

This woman is 26-years-old and seems quite proud of herself. She is also the epitome of what I consider a hard core bully to be. What I mean by hard core is the organic, true Queen Bee who has followers to do her dirty work. Not a pseudo-bully like we find in the “little workers” of the Queen. I am guessing she went through school manipulating and charming those around her. Let me take a few minutes and list some of her activities:

1. She says people will respect her whether they want to or not. She demands it. (um, controlling much?)

2. When she is in line waiting for gas, she will go up to the car in front of her and tell the owner that they need to move because her car is better than theirs. (Oh, it’s that sense of entitlement speaking out!)

3. Her cousin has Down Syndrome and she makes fun of her. (Okay, your lack of empathy is screaming through here)

4. Handicapped parking should not exist and she parks in these places because she can. (Oh wow, more entitlement here! Does it ever end??)

5. She mishandled a tea cup poodle that belongs to her friend. (Um, those who harm animals usually are those with anti-social personality problems)

6. Oh and the most important tip off. A mother of a child who was abused by his peers confronted her and her behavior. Her response? “See, she is bullying ME!” This is so common of adult bullies. They spin things like this and are good at it.

As an adult survivor, I found her to be disturbing. Her lack of remorse or conscience was evident. Also, the narcissism that radiated through her and that dang sense of entitlement. One thing she did not lack was self-esteem. This woman was so arrogant and full of herself. It was hard to watch her to be honest. Yes, I have encountered this ilk all of my life. Yup, they gave me enough grief to last me 2300 lifetimes and then some. They were so good that they eventually made me believe I was the disgusting piece of crap they kept telling me I was. Well, not any longer. Their dysfunction is evident and it must suck to be them. Who do I blame for people like this? I blame society and their lack of knowledge for so long. As a child, I tried to make adults aware of this behavior in others only to be told I was “too sensitive”. Nobody wanted to put the stops out and hold these people accountable for their ilk. As a result, we have people like this woman in our society and are appalled at how they behave. We shouldn’t be! We created these monsters by not standing up to them and following them wanting to be a part of their world. As for this woman on the show, I do not know if she was a Queen Bee growing up or if she was abused by her peers. However, what I saw on that show was a perfect example of what comes of allowing this problem to fester. Not only do the abused suffer but so do those being abused. In many ways I pity her. I would not think it would be fun to run around without any conscience. I would miss out on really caring about others. Plus, the entitlement would leave me disappointed time and again as I would not always get the red carpet treatment.

Please, we do not need any more children growing up to be like this woman. Talk to your kids about this problem. Bystanders, stand up to these abusers and stop trying to be “wannabees.” Is this what we want for our future? Something to seriously think about here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Okay or not okay?

Whew! We are half way through the week and I am surviving another day as an adult. A lot of news about Peer Abuse (bullying) in the news. Phoebe Prince can finally RIP because her abusers have been sentenced. Pretty lenient sentences if you ask me but, what do I know? I am not a legal expert just a B word one. My friends at Civilination had a great blog on PTSD and Annie Fox has kept it real with her blog discussing the decline of society. If that does not top it all, there has been some great discussion on my Facebook page about events happening in Dayton, OH where three teens set a young man’s hair on fire. When does it end? When is okay and not okay?

As an adult survivor of this form of abuse, I have heard the classic “life is not fair” many a time and I can tell you that any other adult survivor knows firsthand that life is not fair. Our civil and human rights were violated before we were old enough to drive and vote! Please folks, give me something I do not know already know. One thing I ponder and that is when is it okay and not okay to hurt someone?

To be alive and exist, we will all experience pain at some point. It pretty much goes with the territory. Yes, even when some choose to live with their rose colored glasses on, it does not mean they are completely immune to pain. The same goes with those who take up residence in their fishbowl with everything happily ever after. However, when is pain not okay? When is life not fair? There is an intangible line here and it is important to understand that. Life stops being fair when people are hurt and abused in any form of fashion. I am sorry but, there are no excuses for that behavior towards anyone. Competition? It’s everywhere and on some level human nature. However, it becomes problematic when it is intentional, flaunted and thrown in other faces to bring pain to them. Setting someone’s head on fire? Um, “life is not fair” will not fly with this one. Nor will it not fly when someone suffers from Complex PTSD. Oh and posting “accomplished” on Facebook after you drove your target to kill herself is not acceptable either. What is wrong with us? Have we lost all touch of empathy and compassion? Do we even know right from wrong any longer?

Nobody knows the hard knocks of life like an adult survivor of the B word does. Again, our civil and human rights were violated very early on and our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness did not always apply to us. It’s hard to dodge these hurdles when the abuse is rampant and it is eight-year-old you against 15 or so other children. Survivors get this and still battle these demons. Experiencing pain and having those we care about hurt us are a fact of life. Not getting a promotion that you felt was yours and went to someone else? Yeah, that’s life. Your grandmother passed away from cancer? Sure, we all have to deal with death. However, it is not okay to continue to harm others or bring them pain intentionally. There is a difference and something we all should think about.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Social Empathy and Social Pain

I work daily online and talk to many people from different places in the world. Facebook is a very active place to go and interact with others. I do a lot of reading and observing as well. As the internet brings the world together, it’s not uncommon to talk to someone in the U.K or in the Ukraine all in the same day. The cultural differences are evident in these posts that I read. However, one constant remains the same and that is social exclusion and lack of social empathy. I am not targeting one particular group, culture or individual here, but am speaking as a whole. Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse grew up in a world where empathy was lacking in their social pain. If we cried, we were told to grow up and stop acting like a baby. However, if it was a case of rape or child abuse, oh boy did people run and empathize to the hilt. Even if it was a physical case, people were so sad. These situations warranted prayer and concern. Yet, when it came to social pain and abuse, it was as if people just turned a blind eye and shrugged it off. I think this is one reason why we are so sensitive socially and pick up on every headshake, word and glare thrown our way. Also, why we are so reactive and are triggered in social situations. It is as if we expect others to lash out at us if we say what is on our minds or complain about how others are making us feel. Peer Abuse is without a doubt something that must be experienced before it can be understood.

A study was conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and shared on the Livescience website. In this study, adults were playing a game of ball-toss. This was done online where the ball was thrown by one person to two other players. Some participants received the ball a fair 1/3 of the time. This was considered the inclusion condition. Others were tossed the ball 10 percent of the time which was considered exclusion condition. Another group which was the control group did not participate in the game at all. Ratings were based on an 11-point scale, each point represented by a facial expression showing an increasing magnitude of pain. Those excluded students indicated a significantly higher pain experience linked to the two social-exclusion scenarios compared with the inclusion group (4.6 versus 3.7). For the other scenarios, the pain ratings didn’t differ between the groups. Three other experiments using the cyberball game, with various tweaks, showed similar results. In one, the players had to indicate how a victim of bullying (named Anna) felt after “Roger” teased her, shouting “earthquake” when she passed by due to her being overweight. The exclusion students rated her pain an average of 5.5 versus 4.3 rating from the inclusion group. At the end of the day, it showed that social pain as much as if not more than any other pain someone would experience.

Folks, it’s time to get real here. Social pain is very real and as you see, it matters to others just as much as any other type of pain would. I am seeing so much lack of social empathy online. People in forums just ignoring others. Then, some will exclude others in offline activities and continuously rub this into those who are not included in these activities. Facebook and Twitter are hotbeds for this. If the person was to speak up, they would get flamed, told to get lost or to stop being so sensitive. Newsflash: these things DO hurt! As an adult survivor myself, I have found myself in many of these situations. As a survivor, what have I done? Sat at the computer and cried. If I spoke out, I got told how silly I was being and childish. I will always have this with me because I am a survivor. However, I have learned to handle it. Plus, I am not alone here. Why do we do this? What makes it okay to verbally ignore others? What is missing with us? Manners have flown out the window and it’s bad to have them these days. Our society has taught us that this lack of empathy is acceptable! People, words hurt! Not only that, but they kill. I can answer all of these questions and that is lacking social empathy or pain for others is not acceptable and this is the culture we have created. We keep quiet about our pain and by doing so we allow this to fester and continue.

The next time you are online, please try and interact with as many people as you can. A recognition or a smile can make a person’s day. Kindness can go a long way. It’s not hard to do. As humans, don’t we all deserve to be included? Something for us all to think about.