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Getting By in a Society Full of Bullies


  • Bullying is not confined to cyberspace; it is also common in most every social setting.
  • Learn how to respond to a bully. Remain calm, don’t retaliate, and avoid negative social media influences.
  • If bullying is causing you severe emotional problems, you may wish to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist who can offer you individualized treatment.


Getting By in a Society Full of Bullies

The word “bully” has become common due to the prevalence of negative interactions within online communities. People may think that bullying is confined to cyberspace. The truth is that bullying also occurs in the real world—in educational institutions and in the workplace—where it has been an issue for many years.

Bullying refers to any form of aggression, mocking or prejudicial behavior, either physical or emotional. When it occurs in the real world it often takes the form of teasing about someone’s appearance or social standing, but it may also involve physical harm. Online bullying, on the other hand, tends to take the form of social media attacks. Bullying frequently results in deep emotional trauma that can ultimately become difficult to treat. Some situations deteriorate into physical altercations that can lead to serious injury.

What constitutes bullying behavior?

Threatening behavior and bullying are not easily distinguished from one another. Bullying usually occurs when one party wishes to exert their power and influence over another party whom they deem to be in some way inferior. It might be as simple as a stronger person picking on a weaker one. The first time this behavior happens, the victim may be quick to offer forgiveness. But when bullying is repeated over an extended period of time, it can result in the victim feeling stressed to the point of seeking revenge. Moreover, the transgressor – or bully – often has clear objectives in mind, such as wanting the other party to feel ashamed, hurt, embarrassed or inferior.

Forms of bullying can be categorized into three main types:

  • Physical bullying. This refers to any physical action that causes pain and injury to the bullied party. Physical bullying can result in both physical injury and emotional pain.
  • Verbal bullying. While this form of bullying leaves no visible scars, sustained gossiping, teasing, threatening and prejudicial speech within earshot of the victim can not only cause embarrassment and anxiety, but may also cause stress and repression of emotions that could ultimately lead to depression or a fear of society. Verbal bullying is therefore viewed as a significant source of emotional harm.
  • Social bullying. This refers to the creation of a social sensation aimed at causing harm to the intended victim. Examples of social bullying include posting a clip of the victim online or creating gossip linked to the victim’s activities. When the content is shared to a wider audience, the victim can feel completely alone and detached from society.

How to deal with bullying

Several types of people engage in bullying behavior: those wanting to have a bit of fun, those having momentary feelings of anger, and those suffering a lapse in decision making. While these moments may be fleeting for the bully, they can result in lengthy periods of emotional distress for the victim. Being aware of techniques for responding to a bully can help a victim escape the emotional, physical and social injuries caused by such behavior. Effective methods for dealing with a bully include:

  • Staying calm. Staying calm and expressionless during a confrontation with a bully can help to quickly defuse the situation, as bullies often desire to provoke an immediate reaction. If the victim does not play a part in escalating the situation, the bully may feel despondent and ultimately back away from the confrontation.
  • Responding politely. Speak or behave in a way that shows you are not having fun, or act in a way to indicate that you are not going to become involved in a negative interaction. Use polite words and a welcoming stance. Don’t raise your voice or use curse words, and carefully explain why you do not agree with their accusations.
  • Engaging with others experiencing similar circumstances to help find a solution to your common problems. Bullies often direct their attention at more than one victim, so finding others in a similar situation can help to build a mutual support system. A tight-knit group can ensure each member of the group has someone to consult with regarding effective ways out of the current situation.
  • Changing your surroundings. If the bullying has reached a stage whereby you feel that you cannot go on physically or emotionally, a change of job or a new group of friends can increase the speed with which you overcome the wounds you’ve suffered.
  • Consulting a psychologist or psychiatrist. Bullying can become so serious that it causes severe emotional harm to the victim, for example feeling that one is no longer a valued member of society. Social isolation, depression and attempted suicide are not uncommon results. Seeking advice from a psychologist or psychiatrist might be the best course of action to help the victim deal with their emotional issues.

In our world of technology, bullying is no longer restricted to the physical world. Anyone can become a victim of bullying via social media at the hands of someone they have never met, or carried out by a group of online bullies. It is even possible that these attackers may never have explicitly intended to bully another person.

Therefore, it is crucial that we are all aware of online behaviors that can potentially cause others to feel terrible, inferior, ashamed, and embarrassed. Take a deep breath and think carefully before you share, like, write a message or say something on social media that could cause such harm. No matter how many times we apologize or how quickly we delete a post, the emotional harm is likely to remain in the mind of the victim for a long time.

On the other hand, should you be unfortunate enough to fall victim to cyber bullying, it is crucial that you are aware of how to respond. Stay calm, remain patient and respond in an appropriate manner. Don’t retaliate, and avoid becoming stressed or feeling overly anxious. Try to lead a positive lifestyle in a suitable environment, and stay away from potentially toxic social media interactions. Most importantly, should you find yourself feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, be sure to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist who can offer treatment appropriate to your individual situation.

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