Today in Bully Culture: Everybody’s a Winner!

One of the worst memories I have as a child is my 5th grade year, which I spent in Central Elementary in my home town.  That was the year I experienced humiliation, racism, and ostracization.  @JenPink can attest to the type of town I’m writing about.  This is the type of town that is limited on critical, independent thinking, especially when you’re a black person whose default disposition is not “thug.” During that year, I suffered many jokes of various kinds.  I learned that being black was not just different, but it was a punchline, a point of contention.  Quickly, I learned that I was different, and I learned how cruel people can be.  Friends traded up, and banjos seemed to blare in replace of the morning bell.  My grades suffered as well as my ability to trust others and to build new relationships.

When I went to my new school, at Northside Elementary it was better, but there were some people who were determined to make my life hell.  At Northside, I was in a neighborhood school with some of my peers. They seemed better in one way, which was that we all had the same family issues.  Since they were black, there were no racial connotations in their choice of insults, but they were no nicer; moreover, fights were more frequent.  I suffered at the hands of a few people who were my on-and-off-again friends.  This all changed when everyone discovered I had a good jump shot and lock down defense.  Then, my life began.

I know this story is not unique, and there is nothing special about my upbringing.  But it was mine.  Now, I’m married with two great kids and live in a good neighborhood with extremely low crime.  You could say that I’m doing alright. I look back on the people who laughed at me,  the assholes who made jokes at my expense because I was a “thinker,” and the douches who forced me to fight with nostalgia.  Why, you ask?  Every single one of the fucks who thought they were hot shit are now fat, miserable ex-cons.  Or worse … Republicans.  Time has been the true vindicator.

The moral of the story: bullies and rejection can push us to be better.  Never did I want to be like the assholes who tormented me.  This made me more empathetic.  I developed a protective instinct toward others, which I am proud of.

Unfortunately, most of the people in recent generations will have a tough time expressing these feelings.  Mainly, this is due to the culture of passive aggressiveness we have let infiltrate our tender society.

There are two reasons why our nation is being boiled down to a comment section.

  1. Our children are being taught that everyone is equal.
  2. We don’t let our children experience pain and rejection.

On some level no matter how liberal you are, you know that I’m right about the two previous statements.  We teach our kids from a very young age that everyone is equal and everyone has a right to say what they want — if you don’t like it, you’re hatin’.  We give everyone a trophy for showing up to the game, and we don’t cut the worst player from the team.  In fact, we have to give the worst player some game time, instead of encouraging them to excel in something they’re good at doing. We promote delusions of grandeur and then turn around and wonder, “What’s wrong with these kids?”

 

Okay, what happens when testosterone jocks are forced to watch a sub-par player be substituted in the game? Resentment?  Anger?  Maybe.  I can’t relate, and do you know why?  We cut players when I was a kid.  It forced those who were cut to practice harder or try something else.  Character-building is the name of the game for all children. Yes, this is related to bullying, because rejection from one’s peers is the same as being rejected from a sports team. It’s rejection they need.  How can you truly appreciate friends, money, jobs, etc. if you’ve never earned them?  That’s why some many Americans walk around living a paradox.

We have to know both sides of the coin.  Americans feel we MUST be happy all the time.  Well, in theory that sounds great, but how would you know you’re happy if you’ve never been sad?  How can you feel love without ever feeling hate?  To have a sympathetic and empathetic population, we must experience emotions across the spectrum to understand ourselves and others.  How Stepford Wives would it be if we were happy all of the time?

We constantly shield our kids from everything.  We do everything short of bubble-wrapping our kids before bedtime. Recently, our state government in Minnesota signed an anti-bullying law, essentially making it against the law to be mean to someone.  What’s next, a “no mean faces” bill?  Or a “no impure thoughts” ordinance?  GTFOOH!  How does a person develop the skills to deal with assholes if they’re being told, “Don’t be mean, okay?”

 

I love my kids like you do.  I will want to flatten the nose of anyone who hurts my little girl or makes my son feel bad. I’m aware of my hypocrisy… I’m working on it.  But, I try to let my son handle his adversities so he can be better equipped to deal with douche-bags when he gets older.  Time will tell if this works or not.  I’m praying his woes will turn into wows.

We need more rejection because we learn more from our failures and tormentors than we learn from our successes and friends.  I was a boy who was bullied and rejected, yet I took that pain and came out stronger on the other side. Imagine if someone made the other kids pretend they liked me, or at least act like they tolerated me.  I would be delusional, thinking that no one is allowed to be mean to me. Then what kind of asshole would I have turned out to be?

Bully Oshin
I’m a resident Minnesota shit-talker (by way of Texas), father of 2, and a yes man to one female human. I’m a failed musician/rapper with a flair for words. I enjoy all things of hateration; moreover, I’m a constant contrarian of pop culture. I love writing and podcasting. I don’t listen very well, but I love to talk about various topics, of which I have strong opinions. Catch my occasional podcast on Spreaker. http://www.spreaker.com/user/6852101
  • http://www.theflounce.com AlexisO

    I agree with most of your article. I don’t think children deserve trophies for showing up and if someone isn’t good at sports then they get cut or put to a second line. That’s what happened to me growing up until I developed athletic skills and got better in order to play more often.

    But. I don’t agree with the thought that there should be no intervention when it comes to bullies and bullying kids in school. I was bullied in high school and it didn’t make me stronger or better it made me shrink back, want to be invisible and stick to the few friends I had. I couldn’t physically fight, I was outnumbered anyway and even if I stood up for myself with a verbal retort, I was laughed at by more kids.

    That was all back before social networks, camera phones and the internet being in everyone’s pockets so I only had to worry about those awful kids when I stepped through the school doors. That’s not how it is today and bullies are a million times meaner, anonymous and in your face outside of school thanks to the access the kids have to each other. Whether it’s the parents’ fault or not bullying is out of control so something needs to be done.

    • Duni Arnold

      Just wanted to chime in with “I agree.”

    • bullyoshin

      I see your point. But you can always turn off the computer to avoid social networks. My point is they need to find ways to navigate around the idiots because there are plenty of them. Parents need to intervene but not handle everything for them.

      • http://www.theflounce.com AlexisO

        Telling kids they can’t go on the internet because of their bullies isn’t fair. I think kids are getting into social networks too young but the victims of bullying shouldn’t be the ones punished, the bullies should be punished.

        Having a law to answer to will also help make kids and parents accountable, something else that seems to be missing from society these days.

        • bullyoshin

          Yeah but the Internet is a privelage not a right. Not sure what the right answer is but laws only make bullies more creative. I agree there should be parent accountability especially for those with children like that.

          • http://www.theflounce.com AlexisO

            Perhaps a LAW is not the correct answer but some sort of program that each school enacts to fit their needs would be a good option. What I’m learning in 2014 is that there is no such thing as ‘personal responsibility’ these days. Everything is everybody else’s fault so there will be little movement in Parents/Schools/Whatever to do things on their own and to help with bullying on their own so maybe a Law is what’s needed.

            As for the internet, more and more schools are going paperless and book-less so it’s becoming more of a right instead of a privilege. There’s a local school here that is like 90% paperless now and plans to be 100% paperless by the end of 2014. Social Networks are a definitely a privilege and not a right and kids shouldn’t have access to them at a young age BUT to say someone can’t do something because another person doesn’t like them isn’t fair.

          • bullyoshin

            True. But if someone I knew who wants to fight me or whatever is at a popular location, I would try not to go there. Same for Facebook. If it’s a place of contention for a kid, anyone really, you have the power to fit them off or mute them. We live in a victimizing mentality whereI’m expecting the world to change for us.

          • http://www.theflounce.com AlexisO

            I agree with you in that aspect as an adult, avoiding someplace that could be trouble. Kids though, they need opportunity and they need the same access as everyone else for learning, development, etc. What happens if a bully is on their soccer team? Are they expected to quit?

          • bullyoshin

            Out play them and kill them with kindness. To the point everyone has to acknowledge the other guy is being a tool.

          • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

            But as a parent, whether it’s fair isn’t an issue so much as whether it’s safe. If I know my kid is being bullied on Facebook and I’m powerless to stop it – this law is powerless to stop it – then my kid doesn’t need to be on Facebook. Sure, I’ll try to talk to the bully’s parents, etc. but the first step would be to remove my kid from the equation, because safety first.

          • http://www.theflounce.com AlexisO

            Yeah, Facebook is a different animal entirely because that’s personal time stuff. I understand safety first and pulling the child from FB and as a parent you’re the authority figure. What happens during school hours when there’s no oversight or accountability? I don’t know the answers, I’m so far removed from middle school and high school I shouldn’t have that much of an opinion. All I know is that when I hear about kids, children, killing themselves because of bullying something needs to be done.

          • TheTimeToStopPostingIsNow

            24/7 at home (affordable) internet access is a privilege, but internet access itself is not. Libraries, coffee shops, net cafes, friends’ homes, cities(city-wide internet) if it exists kids will use it.

            Forbidding kids from accessing the internet is unrealistic and ultimately fruitless. They will need it for school and find it eventually, especially if all of their friends are using social networking. And there are bullies everywhere. Should kids never play outside or go to the mall? Bullies are wherever kids are, there’s no avoiding them. This is just like telling women not to go to a bar because a rapist might be there. There are bad people everywhere.

          • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

            Keeping my children off the internet is NOT just like telling women not to go to a bar because a rapist might be there. No.

  • Turanga Leela

    I get so conflicted when I read articles like this. I don’t want kids to suffer through soul-crushing bullying. At all.
    On the other hand, I was bullied relentlessly through elementary and middle school and it sucked…but it really did make me stronger and more resilient. I literally don’t think I’d be as competent or confident a person today if I hadn’t learned how to handle those little assholes myself on my own terms. So I don’t think the way we talk about handling bullying today is as transparent as it needs to be.

  • botenana

    I’m along the same lines of the other commentators. I was bullied relentlessly in high school and it helped me eventually, but the pain and frustration and punishment i put myself through until I got to that point I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

    I did make a recommendation to Wiggle’s teacher that he not be put in the same class next year as his bully. The teacher agreed with me. Wiggles is 6 and in the first grade. During those years, they are learning conflict resolution and how to use words instead of impulse. And frankly, if i have my bonus son come home one more time with an ice pack because the asshole bully has hit him again, I will lose my shit. If Wiggles were 9, 10 or older? Well, we’ll work it out ourselves, but again, I do feel the school has some responsibility to provide a safe place for all children to learn and that by “letting kids be kids” it’s not helpful.

    I definitely agree that the atta-boy culture is out of hand. We try to raise our kids in the manner of someone that is striving to achieve things and that not everyone is a special snowflake. Don’t get me wrong – we support, we embrace strengths but we also identify opportunities.

    • bullyoshin

      I like some of your points. It’s hard to know where that line is. I’m going to put my son in boxing class and hopefully he can learn discipline and get confidence to know he can handle himself. Our I could just beat my son’s bully’s dad up.
      :()

      • http://theflounce.com Jen Pink

        I’m all about stopping bullying, but… I’m not sure laws like these are effective. They’re more about reporting than culture change, and another issue is these zero tolerance rules, how far will a “bullying infraction” follow a kid who maybe called another kid “pizza face” one time in Jr High? I think kids having social media and unlimited internet access at home is a lot more dangerous than the lack of a bullying statute at school.