I learned a valuable lesson these past few weeks. Most people lack even the most basic form of courage.
It bothers me to say that, and yet, I watched in confusion how people allowed bullying to happen to another person repeatedly over these past months. They saw it happen, were there while it was happening, and instead of stepping in and asking the bully to stop, they endured it quietly or worse, applauded it.
What made the entire situation so horrible is that it had been going on for so long. People milling about, being in the “room”, watching while a bully berated and humiliated another person. You’d even hear them, especially when the victim wasn’t in earshot, somehow praise the bully – clearly always enabling him. Letting him think, it was okay to continue doing what he was doing.
Personally, I was baffled by the exchanges. What was even more confusing was when one person would reach out to me and tell me how horrible the bully was, but then, in the next breadth be in their presence applauding them and saying things like, “…man, you’ll always be good in my book.”
These same people claim to be a “community” that “looks out for each other”. This always made me laugh because the bullying had been going on for months and not one of these “community members” tried at all to stop the situation. They reveled in it, participated in it, and lied to themselves about all of it.
There’s a very famous quote by Edmund Burke that we all know:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
I don’t know anything about Edmund Burke, but the quote still stands. If you continuously allow someone to bully others, you’re allowing evil to fester. You are in fact, enabling and participating in a horribleness. You are part of the problem. To me, it’s as clear as that.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t do something. Fair enough. The reason I didn’t do anything at all was because – I was the one being bullied online. I know, it may shock some folk, but this goes to show you, no one is immune to being bullied. Not even me.
The Mistakes I Made:
As much as I’d like to detail, for story purposes, what exactly happened to help create this situation, the truth is, a bully, will find any reason to harass someone, period. A bully always needs a foil. They need someone to step on, to make themselves feel superior too. They have thin skin, can’t take criticism or the idea that they might be wrong – and they most likely have little to no self-esteem. So, putting someone down, in order to lift themselves up, has to be one of the first signs that someone is a bully. The mistake I made though – something I regret, was to not report them immediately or tell anyone that it was happening.
Why? Why didn’t I scream it from the rooftops, right?
Honestly, as I look back on it, I realize how wrong that was. I thought that if they were only bullying me, it was fine. This has happened to me before as a kid, and honestly, it didn’t seem all that important to me – except that it was annoying and hurtful to watch how others allowed and even enabled it to happen.
I’m always shocked by how many people will say that if they see wrongdoing happening, they would be the first to step in and do something about it. I think it’s clear, that most people can’t handle confrontation. And no, most people won’t jump in and help. Most people want everyone to like them, so they’d rather walk away or claim they had no idea what was happening. Always taking the easy road. Cowards. All of them.
Another quote that just seems appropriate here, by the great Dr. Maya Angelou:
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
I’ve seen how many people chose not to react at all during this entire time – and let me tell you something, it’s real easy to be a good person when things are good – but I judge you on who you reveal yourself to be when things are tough. Period. If you lack courage or integrity, you shall lack my friendship. It really is that simple.
It wasn’t until this bully started connecting me to another person, I’d never even known that I realized he was bullying other people. When I realized he was hurting someone else, that’s when I acted and let the authorities know I was being harassed. The irony is that because this bully made an outlandish connection between me and a person I’d never even spoken to, I realized that he was also bullying her. That’s when it hit me how harmful he was. That’s when I decided to take action. By finally doing that, another individual who had also felt his wrath reached out to me, and – honestly, I cried. I realized because I hadn’t reported him sooner, I unintentionally allowed a pathetic human being hurt another person.
That was my mistake. It will never happen again.
Please, if you are someone who is being bullied, I know it’s hard to do or to even see when you’re so in it – but if the circumstances allow you, please report this person to as many places as you can, even if it’s anonymously. Chances are you’re not the only one being bullied and you know what? You don’t deserve to be treated that way. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way either. Don’t do what I did and stay silent for any amount of time. Tell a friend, tell a family member, tell an authority figure, tell anyone – most times you can do this anonymously if you need to – but if you can’t report someone for yourself, do it because the bully may be hurting someone else. And the more people who report it, the likelihood is that someone in power may notice and may be able to stop it!
The Mistakes YOU Make:
If you’re in the presence of someone who is being bullied or harassed in any way shape or form, you can do something to help. When you choose NOT to help, you are part of the problem, period.
I get it, you don’t want to get involved. You’re scared for your own safety. That’s fair. Maybe you think the bully is so powerful he’ll turn on you so you want to keep the peace? I get it. But it’s wrong.
If you don’t want to get involved, then don’t. That is your choice. But do NOT become a hypocrite trying to play both sides. Have some integrity.
There are several ways those of you who want to help, can do so safely: Report bullies anonymously. Maybe you don’t want to engage with that person, but you can certainly let the authorities or others know what is happening. That is the very least you can do.
Confront others away from the bully and ask them not to keep engaging in bullying behavior. Where along the way did we become a society that tolerates anyone getting hurt in front of our own eyes? Imagine for a moment you’re the one being assaulted – how would you feel if there were a crowd of people just standing by and watching? Is that who we’ve become? People will watch bad things happen and do nothing to stop it? Apparently, yes. It breaks my heart. But if you’re reading this far – this may be the MOST you can do. Away from danger, tell others to stop supporting the bully. Report a bully anonymously. And don’t engage in the taunting and mistreatment of others EVER in any way shape or form.
How This Bully Was Stopped:
Well, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure he’s been entirely stopped. He has his little minions/lapdogs still doing his bidding and because the bully has a need to “win” he keeps popping up with different names and such. Bullies can never lose. So, I’m sure he’ll pop up again somewhere.
However, even though I finally reported him, and other victims had also reported him, it wasn’t until one good man made the decision to put the community and authorities on blast. He made his feelings known about the entire situation in public – calling the authorities out for their delay and inaction. Within hours of publicly denouncing the situation, the bully’s known profiles were deleted.
This good man, who we’ll call “Jonathan”, got a lot of backlash from “friends” because he chose to do the right thing and got involved. He got slammed by some community members for speaking out against the bully and the authorities. But Jonathan took a stand, risked a lot, to try and rectify the situation. And thankfully, it seems to have worked. He may have lost some “friends” on the app, but he’s now gained at least three new real friends who will always have his back no matter what so… silver lining?
Look, clearly what Jonathan did, took a lot of courage. I hope someday we all find a way to be more like Jonathan and less like a bystander enabling a horribleness to another fellow human being.
Till next time,
Please check out these resources if you’re being bullied or know someone who is being harassed: