First, let’s define the term, “Social Contagion”. It is the spread of thoughts, ideas, emotions and behaviors from person to person and among larger groups as affected by shared information, mimicry and conformity.
A certain emotion or mood can spread quickly through a large crowd, leading them to extreme mindsets. This explains “pack mentality” where people in large groups act in ways they may later regret.
It is the same with bullying. A target is selected by a few bullies out of the whole class, workplace or community and before you know it, the entire student body, workplace or neighborhood is acting in evil and brutal ways toward the selected target- doing sadistic things that, under normal circumstances, they would never do. Intense hate spreads throughout the group like a cancer. Bystanders, witnesses, even teachers, school officials, supervisors, and managers will partake in the abuse of the singled-out and defenseless target.
They do this for several reasons:
1. To keep from being the next target
2. To fit into the group
3. To feel better about themselves and superior to someone (anyone).
4. They believe any lies/rumors about the target
5. To tighten bonds among themselves- using the target as the common enemy to unite against
In order to beat bullies at their own game, we must first know what makes them tick and why they do what they do. Once we learn the bully mindset, we will be able to better protect ourselves against them.
Peeling the masks of the bullies one layer at a time!
They wouldn’t survive anywhere else. In Oakley*, they know people in high places. They have connections in town they would never have anywhere else and they fall back on those connections to get jobs, opportunities, and certain protections. So why would they leave? They would never get those perks anywhere else and no one in any other area would put up with their crap. They would have to live and take credit strictly on merit, rather than who they were, who they were related to or who they were friends with during high school. Therefore, they play it safe and stay in the same town they grew up in.
They eat in the same restaurants, frequent the same boring spots and pal around with the same boring people they hung with in high school. You’d think they would get tired of doing the same old stuff after thirty years.
Remember that bullies are cowards at heart. They don’t take risks and will never venture outside their comfort zones. They will never leave the confines of their familiar surroundings or their cliques. They may go on vacation from time to time but would never leave town for an extended period of time.
They also have no tolerance for people outside their circle of friends and it’s not because there’s anything wrong with those people. It’s because my former bullies are intimidated by anyone outside of their cliques and especially outside of their town. Could it be that maybe anyone outside of their circle and element might be smart enough to figure out who they really are? Or even worse, ballsy enough to call them out? After all, bullies fear exposure most of all.
Peeling the masks of the bullies one layer at a time.
(*Not the name of the town)
It’s called Othello’s Error on the parts of teachers, principals school officials, supervisors and managers. It comes from Shakespeare’s play, “Othello”, in which the main character, Othello assumes that his wife, Desdemona is having an affair based on her nervous response when he questions her.
In reality, Desdemona is innocent but the aggressive and volatile nature of Othello and his intimidating questions make the poor lady nervous and Othello takes this as a sign of guilt. It is often the same in real life.
Often, when a person is questioned and shows nervousness, most accusers and witnesses misread the response and take it as a sign that the person is lying or is hiding something. It’s how so many people have gotten blamed for something they didn’t do. Just as nervousness is too often mistaken for deception, the show of confidence is mistaken for honesty and trustworthiness. As we all know, bullies are well-known for feigned confidence and false bravado.
Victims of bullying are always nervous and rightfully so. Who wouldn’t be if they were constantly abused, shamed, name-called, threatened and physically attacked? And people are notorious for rushing to the first possible explanation which fits what they want to see. Should it why any wonder why victims are blamed, and bullies go scot free?
After the abuse goes on for so long, victims learn to expect more of the same and they usually get it, because the Law of Attraction dictates that expectation of such treatment more, more, then, even more, making the victim more nervous with each occurrence. As the victim grows more and more nervous, bystanders and authority grow more and more suspicious of the poor target of bullying!
The fact is that nervousness has several reasons and the mistake is often in the decoding of it and not the observation!