Gabby’s a winner, bullies are losers!
“If I had a son, he’d look just like Trayvon (Martin)! ‘’ – President Barack Obama
In 2012 they cheered her. Her face landed on a cereal box. In 2016 they bullied her. Her face landed on Twitter. Rejoiced one year, excoriated another year.
The late Tim Fields, author of “Bully In sight,” must be turning over in his grave these days. He knew from first-hand experience what it’s like to be bullied. Before it eventually took his life, he was prophetic enough to write about it. So, I suppose you could point to the collapse of civility in society, loudmouth politicians and, case in point, the vicious bullying Gabby has been subjected to lately as the primary reasons for Fields’ grave flipping.
You see, it wasn’t that long ago that the U.S. Olympian Douglas was a celebrated gold medal winner and the first African American to win the individual all-around title in gymnastics. Now here we are four years later and our returning champion has been subjected to a snarky comments, hatred, racism and downright cruelty aided and abetted by the bully’s latest WMD (Weapon of Mass Destruction)…social media!
But first, bullying? What are we talking about here?
A universal definition of bullying does not exist. But here’s the Fields’ definition we’ve used over the years in our workshop, “Eradicating Workplace Bullying.”
Intentional bullying is a pattern of unwelcome (overt and subtle) behaviors on the part of an individual whose actions are aimed at controlling the target of the behavior. The effect is psychological harm thereby hampering the target’s ability to perform his or her job.
So why do bullies bully? Simply put, bullies bully because they are sick people who thrive on humiliating others. Reason two is that the bully sees qualities in the target – talent, likeability, popularity, success, attractiveness, etc., – that the bully lacks. So in a jealous rage the bully attacks.
Some important points to be made at this juncture.
First, most people don’t wake up in the morning asking “Who can I go out and bully today?” Those who do are described by Fields as the worst kind of bully, the “serial bully,” the one who has been getting away with it, often for years. So the truth is that bullies are relatively small in number but – wait, don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet – the damage they wreak, the psychological harm, is beyond measure.
Types of bullying
The image the schoolyard bully of yore, the one who engages in threats and intimidation is the one that’s naturally conjured up when people think about bullying. However, there are other types of bullying, among them Institutional bullying which arises when bullying becomes entrenched and accepted as part of the culture. Gang bullying (or mobbing), another type, occurs when, instigated by a serial bully, a target is attacked by different people.
OK, now what?
Now I can speak from first-hand experience what it’s like being the target of a particular type of bully, the cyber bully, having been stalked and ridiculed on-line by such individuals whenever I broach the topics of race, gays or Muslims in my articles. Undeterred, I’ll just keep on tackling these and other thorny issues.
A strategy in dealing with the cyber bully – one I wouldn’t recommend for everyone – is to “invite” him to meet you somewhere to, uh, “discuss” his problem with you. I did that recently and my slimy bully disappeared somewhere into cyberspace. My point is that bullies are cowards. You challenge them and, like roaches in a dark room, they run for cover once exposed.
Short of that, my advice is to ignore the bully since she thrives on getting a response from you, getting into your head. But this approach works best if there’s no physical threat from the bully.
In the end, enough is enough. Just don’t put up with this stuff anymore.
Oh, yes, and lest I forget, if I had a daughter, she’d look just like Gabby!
© Terry Howard is an award-winning writer, story teller and senior associate with Diversity Wealth. He is also a Contributing Writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, the American Diversity Report and New York-based Catalyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.