Bullies and Gossip

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Gossip is purely judgmental and includes hasty generalizations about the target’s character and private life, which has nothing to do with the school, community, or workplace. The purpose of gossip is to control the target’s status by demoting the target on the social hierarchy.

Another purpose of gossip is to justify any punishment of the target by promoting a collective view that the victim doesn’t deserve respect, dignity, or humanity, but only abuse and hostility.

 And once a target is viewed to deserve abuse, others will always escalate it!

Gossip has another benefit. It tightens group connections, gives higher status to the people who are privy to the negative information, and sets expectations and norms in the group as to how they should treat the target.

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Through gossip, the group establishes, maintains, or changes social infrastructures. Gossip promotes unity and shared negative perceptions of the target. With the use of it, the group will foster justification for hostility. Therefore, no one in the group considers their actions as bullying. They will only say that the target “deserves it” and say they were reacting to “an evil enemy.”

People tell others to keep it secret, but they also ask them to inform the group of any new information and updates that concern their target.

Realize that it serves to provide bullies reaffirmations that their perceptions of the target are correct, that the target deserves abuse.

Gossipers will often cover their bad behavior with a slight confession of guilt by beginning their sentences with things like,

“I know I shouldn’t say this, but…”

“Poor thing…”

“Bless her heart…”

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 They will acknowledge that the target is a human being, but only because this gives them the green light to go on talking and helps them to feel less like the creeps they are.

It’s true that reputation doesn’t equal character. But understand that the rumors may, in fact, be false and there may be zero credible evidence to back them up. But if pure speculation best fits the bullies’ goals, that’s what they will go along with.

In the late stages of gossip, all bystanders will become willing co-conspirators. Gossip brings scandal, which means to assassinate the target’s character, integrity, mental fitness, and worth as a student, worker, neighbor, or human being.

Anyone who questions or disbelieves the lies will immediately become an object of bullying as well. Nobody wants to be isolated, so this forces others to stay in line with the running narrative.

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And if the target attempts to defend himself or speak out against the abuse, it will be used against him.

Unfortunately, at this stage, the only way for the target to ensure his safety and escape the abuse is to leave the toxic environment and go to a new place where he can start anew, establish new connections, and reinvent himself.

Remember the character, Chris Chambers, in the movie “Stand by Me.” Although he was a great kid, he was considered a rogue and a thief. Remember the scene where he was crying to his friend, Gordy, telling him about how he got his bad name, and wishing he could go somewhere where no one knew him.

And sadly, in a majority of cases, targets must leave the school, company, or community to heal and to rebuild their lives.

If You’re a Target of Bullying, Never Isolate Yourself.

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Many targets are bullied so viciously that they become terrified, withdraw and isolate themselves. They grew leery of social situations and lose trust in all people. Once they lose faith in humanity, they become hermits.

Some solitude is healthy, but too much of it isn’t good. Although staying away from people may seem to be the safest way to deal with being bullied, it isn’t.

Understand that when you withdraw from people, you not only close yourself off to bullies, you cut yourself off from people who can help you and from information that could be important.

You’ll cut yourself off from any talk that your bullies might be planning something harmful and you must always pay attention to what’s going on around you. Also, when you isolate yourself, you draw too much attention to yourself and make yourself an easier target. When you’re alone, you’re ripe for attack.

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Realize that we humans are social creatures and to have any power requires connection, interaction and being out and about.

It’s much better to mix and mingle with people and find friends and allies. What you should do is hide in the crowd from your bullies. Find others your bullies have bullied and use what you have in common to win them over to your side.

Making friends and allies both in and out of the bullying environment helps to counterbalance your bullies and give you protection.

When you refuse to isolate yourself, you’re more likely to receive news of what your bullies are doing and secrets they’re hiding, then use it to your advantage or for your defense. You can also better predict what they’ll do next.

Besides, the more sociable you are, the more at ease you’ll be and the more attractive you’ll become.

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Too much isolation, on the other hand, will also make you awkward around people and they will begin to avoid you.

So, remember. Isolation should only be temporary and in small doses. Only then is it good because it allows you time to think and evaluate things.

But too much of it can leave you exposed for attack because bullies always attack when the target is alone.

Think about it. In the animal kingdom, predators like tigers and wolves always attack in packs and when the prey is separated from the herd. Bullies are the same!