The most insidious thing about being a target of bullying is the loss of opportunities to meet new people and the inability to move on with new friends. When bullies and their drones have unjustly slandered or libeled you, even total strangers will no doubt hear of you, and chances are, they will automatically have their minds made up about you before they get a chance to meet you. Sadly, this is one feature of bullying that crosses very few people’s minds.
What’s even scarier is that you are left completely defenseless against any attack these strangers may bring because you haven’t the slightest idea who they are. How do you know who to watch out for? How do you know who to avoid? It’s impossible to protect yourself from invisible enemies.
It is a situation in which you are walking blind, which is very dangerous! You cannot see the enemy. Someone could walk right up to you on the street, in broad daylight, with a weapon hidden on them and you would never know of their intent to hurt or kill you until it was too late.
Remember. We lost the Vietnam War because we didn’t know who the enemy was. We didn’t know exactly who was or wasn’t on our side!
It’s the same when you are a target of bullying, especially if you live in a rural area where everyone knows everyone. Once your tarnished reputation reaches far and wide, there will be times when you won’t know who is coming for you and it will be as if you are fighting ghosts.
Sadly, in these cases, the bullying has for so long gone on that your reputation in the community has become ironclad, and there isn’t much you can do to change it. Therefore, the best you can do to better your life is to move away and get a fresh start in a new town. It may be the only way you will find happiness and stability.
Recently, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Should the Opinions of Bullies Matter?” In it, I stated the reasons why they shouldn’t and that the only opinions that should were those of the people who love us and want the best for us.
And it’s true. Bullies’ opinions shouldn’t concern us and for some targets, they don’t. but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that maybe I should’ve added more to the post.
So, here goes!
Though bullies’ thoughts and feelings of you shouldn’t matter, it doesn’t mean they can’t affect us, or even hinder us.
The reality is that the bullies’ opinions of their target can have a huge impact on the target’s life. Their thoughts and feelings of the target can determine whether other people outside the bully/target conflict feel comfortable associating with the target.
Although we don’t want to admit it and, no, it isn’t fair, the personal opinions of other people often are the deciding factor or whether we’re well-liked or lonely and hated.
Bullies influence the attitudes of others who otherwise either wouldn’t have an issue with us or would be great friends under different circumstances. The opinions of bullies have a way of spreading far and wide- making bullies out of those who, under normal circumstances, would never resort to mistreating another human being.
It’s amazing what a contagion effect bullying has on schools, companies, organizations, and communities.
We must learn about bullying from all angles. Because the more we know, the better we will be able to salvage our good names and counter some of the effects it may have on our lives.
I’ve talked to a few victims these past couple of months and in today’s climate of culture, hate, and division, here’s what their bullies are accusing them of to smear them and cause their reputations irreparable damage.
Bullies are accusing their victims of being racist! Yes! I’ve talked to four bullying targets and two of them are minorities themselves, so it doesn’t matter what the target’s race actually is. They are still being accused of racism, an accusation that is sure to make the accused radioactive.
I can’t stand a racist and don’t know anyone who can. So, this is not to say that racists don’t exist. They do and they’re the most ignorant and evil people you can imagine. However, I’ve known many innocents who have also been lied about and had the racist moniker unfairly and unjustly labeled to them. And I just can’t imagine being accused of such hatred. It would absolutely devastate me if it ever happened to me.
The most effective way to defame and destroy an individual is to associate them with a label that smells bad. And bullies are doing exactly that, especially today.
And with cancel culture being so rampant today, it completely destroys the futures and lives of innocent targets. I will give the victims I talked to fictitious names to conceal their identities and keep them safe.
Gia – age 14
“When school closed due to COVID, I was so sure that I would be safe because I wouldn’t have to see any of my classmates, who treated me so bad when school was in session. But about six weeks after the lockdown, they started harassing me online. I deleted and blocked them from all my social media pages and that seemed to work for a while. A month or so after that, I get a barrage of new friend requests, all from strangers that didn’t have a profile picture, only blanks or pictures of cartoon characters. I accepted some of the requests and the next thing I knew, they began tagging me in posts and making comments that I was a racist. And I’m black! I got called an ‘Uncle Tom’, a ‘bed wench,’ all kinds of nasty names! I lost a lot of friends because of it. I went from having over nine hundred friends to having about two hundred fifty in a week. And it turned into a real warzone. I ended up deleting my account because it upset me so much and I got scared. What really sucks is that nobody even asked me! They just believed it without any proof to back it up! I just don’t understand people and how they can just believe a bunch of lies without getting the facts first! It’s like everyone automatically assumes the worst!”
Kayla – age 30
“I walked away from my nursing job because of workplace mobbing. I didn’t give notice and maybe I should have. I just told them I was done, hit the clock, and left. The next day, I started getting messages from several of the mob at my old workplace accusing me of patient abandonment, to which my response was, ‘I didn’t abandon the patients, I abandoned you because of the way you treated me.’ Then before the week was out, they were all over my Facebook and Twitter pages accusing me of being racist and there’s nothing about me that’s racist. I wasn’t raised that way. I have friends of all races and I love them all equally. I had to delete both accounts because I was so afraid a potential employer would see it and decide that I would be too much of a risk to hire. I’ve lost so many friends- friends I was sure wouldn’t believe the accusations! I thought they knew me better than that!”
Sheila – age 16
“I’ve been bullied at school since the fourth grade. In the fourth through seventh grades, I was accused of being homosexual because I had short, red hair and was overweight. I’ve since grown my hair long and lost all the excess weight. I’ve also gotten taller. But that still hasn’t stopped the bullies. It’s like the longer my hair grew and the taller and thinner I got, the worst the bullying got! Now they’re accusing me of being racist and I’ve lost more friends from that accusation than I ever lost when everyone thought I was gay. And with the racial tensions in this country now, it’s so easy for a lie like that to be seen as the truth!”
Benjamin – age 18
“It’s bad enough that I didn’t get to have a normal graduation because of COVID. Now, it seems that I may not get a job or get to college because my high school bullies got on my Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat pages and accused me of being racist! These people have bullied me since the seventh grade and they haven’t stopped, even after school shut down in March of 2020! Instead of stalking me in the hallways and on campus, they started stalking me online. In today’s climate, it seems that if you really want to ruin somebody’s life, just lie and label them a racist or a homophobe! It’s that easy!”
My heart breaks for these people because I can only imagine what life must be like for them- the fear of having their futures ruined, the fear of being cancel cultured and having opportunities taken from them! It scares me for them!
As some of these targets have mentioned, in today’s political climate and with the problems that are happening in this country, bullies are taking full advantage by accusing their targets of being racists!
Understand that the words racist and racism are such emotionally charged words right now.
Again, though racism does exist and there are ignorant racists in the world, there are also innocent targets of bullying who are being lumped in that category as well. It’s not only heartbreaking, it’s gut wrenching!
Realize that this is when bullies become dangerous! This is a time when one rumor, one piece of gossip, one offhand comment, anything- can get victims fired, ruined for life, or even physically attacked, maimed and killed!
You must take steps to guard your reputation! And you must guard it as you would any other valuable possession! Otherwise, your bullies may alter the course of your life and that of your family forever!
“Reputation is the cornerstone of power.” – Robert Greene
Simply put, bullies attack your reputation to strip you of power. Once your reputation is gone, you’re defenseless and extremely vulnerable to attack. Bullies can freely attack you from all directions. Even worse, you’re at the mercy of virtually everyone around you.
Bullies know that if they can poke holes in your reputation, they won’t have to work so hard to bring you down because now, they have public opinion on their side. They can then stand back and watch with glee as widely held perceptions of you finish you off.
To start, bullies will plant seeds of doubt about your character in the minds of others. Doubt is a powerful tool.
Next, they spread rumors and lies.
Bullies are proof that offense is the best defense. Drawing first blood is always best because the target can only respond in either one of two ways.
1. He could deny the rumors, even produce evidence that proves his innocence of the accusations. Or,
2. He could ignore the lies and blow his accusers off with a “whatever” and walk away laughing.
Either way, people will still look at the target with suspicion.
1. If the target defends himself and produces evidence to the contrary, the prevailing thought will be,
“There must be some truth to the rumors, otherwise he wouldn’t be defending himself so vehemently.”
2. If he ignores the lies and waves his accusers away with a laugh, others will be even more suspicious of him because they’ll think that he has something to hide and is only playing it cool.
Bullies know that if they instigate rumors the right way, there’s a possibility that they can get the target so enraged and rattled that while defending himself, he ends up making a truckload of mistakes.
And if the target hasn’t yet established a reputation, the smear campaign will only work all the more in the bullies’ favor.
And the sad fact is this:
Two different people can do the exact same thing the exact same way. And each person’s reputation will decide whether the action is brilliant or terrible.
Put simpler. It’s not what you do. It’s who you are when you do it. It’s not the action itself, but who the person is that does it.
A person who’s well-liked and has a stellar reputation can write an essay, and others will deem it a brilliant piece.
But let a person who’s despised by everyone and has a lousy reputation write the exact same essay, and others will only view it as a worthless piece of garbage that’s not even worth reading, which brings me to the final conclusion:
Reputation can affect all areas of your life. It can be the difference between having success or failure- in everything!
But there’s hope.
Although extremely difficult, you can still salvage your reputation and change your life for the better. Here’s how.
1. Move to a different area. Sometimes you must go somewhere else and start over again. It may be difficult to leave your family behind, but if you stay in the town where people judge you unfavorably, you’ll never have the chance to move forward and will always be stuck right where you are. Why not pack your things and leave for greener pastures.
2. Find a good cause to fight for and that you’re passionate about. Any time you fight for a good cause, you will meet like-minded people who are fighting for the same purpose.
The cause could be “The Me Too Movement,” “The Victim’s Rights Movement,” or even “The Anti-Bullying Movement.” Whatever the cause, you will attract those who are fighting for the same things. And you’ll easily make positive connections with them and become life-long friends.
Although many doors get slammed shut and locked, there’s always a way out if you look for it. I guarantee it!