Thursday, 18 October 2012

Bullies on the Interwebs

bul·ly[bool-ee]  noun, plural bul·lies, verb, bul·lied, bul·ly·ing, adjective, interjection

1.a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.
2.Archaic . a man hired to do violence.
3.Obsolete . a pimp; procurer.
4.Obsolete . good friend; good fellow.
5.Obsolete . sweetheart; darling.
Maybe I'm getting a bit old, and I know words have a tendency to change their meaning (check out the above - bully once meant positive things!!) but I'm struggling with the use of the word bully lately.
In my day, a bully was someone you were shit-scared of.  They'd beat you up for your lunch money, or make you do bad things to avoid a beating.  We had one at my school who certainly tried it, but as I was bigger than average, it never worked on me.  She even tried to intimidate my mother - and we're talking about a 12 year old girl here - that didn't work for her either.
Lately, on the social networking sites, especially facebook, it seems that a bully is someone who says something a little bit mean about you.  Or disagrees with you.  Or makes a blog post describing something you've done or said (with or without naming you).
Have we really become so thin-skinned that this kind of behaviour is bullying to us?  As a society, do we really expect everything and everyone to be all raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens?  Do we deal with a disagreement or being upset by something someone has said to us by whining "bully" at anyone who will listen?
Making a sock puppet with a similar name is not bullying.  It's taking the piss certainly, but how are you terrified of someone Gods only know where sitting at their computer screen making fun of you?
Making a parody page of your page is not bullying you.  It's taking the piss again.  If it increases your traffic, why is it such a problem?  And let's face it - that page is really funny.
Insulting people on a group and having them insult you back is not you being bullied, it's taking what you dished out.  If you don't like it, don't do it.
If someone calls you on plagiarism that has been posted on a page you admin, the smart thing to do is to remove it.  Bitching and moaning and whining doesn't fix the blatant law-breaking.  As the admin, it's your responsibility.  Starting a petition is even more childish by the way.  To then complain that the bullies are backing you into a corner and forcing you to restrict your page isn't fixing the problem either.  The problem is that you haven't removed an illegal post.  It's your own actions that have led to this.  No one is bullying you, my dear flake, you are doing wrong and consistently making things worse.
Seriously, how is a keyboard warrior a bully?  Are they sitting outside your house with a gun?  No they're sitting at their computer, probably miles away, and possibly even in another country - what can they really do to you that makes you so afraid of them?
Sadly though, the real bullying that there are many groups working against - the kids who are frequently assaulted in schools, or too afraid to go to school - this kind of thing is serious.  People who overuse and misuse a word belittle the real meaning behind it.  Bullying will become something that people just need to harden the fuck up about, and those in real danger from bullies (actual bullies, not just meanies on the net) will be ignored.  Is that something you really want on your conscience?  Because every time you describe someone being a bit mean to you as a bully, this is what you are creating.