Bullies

I grew up in the country – moving four times during my schooling to different out of the way locations when my father took promotions. These were places where families lived on the same farms for generations; everyone knew everyone else, and the friendships between kids started at birth.

Turning up with pretty average social skills, being forced to wear my old school uniform for a term or two, and having the horrible infliction of being somewhat bright – did not bode well for me. Almost needless to say – I got bullied a lot as a kid.

My father’s advice was always to turn the other cheek – but that only ever emboldened the bullies. Midway through High School and with a couple years of Karate under my belt I started to very aggressively fight back. I didn’t care if I lost a fight or got in to trouble – my only aim was to make sure I hurt the other kid.

I won a few fights, drew a couple, and continued to belligerently shirt front anyone who tried to pick on me. Within a relatively short period of time I was no longer bullied – the worst antagonist walking away from an offered fight saying “you’re not worth it.”

I appreciated being able to discard my past and somewhat reinvent myself when I moved down to the city to go to University – pleased I had left that phase of my life behind me.

After graduating I moved into professional work environments – only to find bullying to be alive and well there too. I took the same approach as I did at school (without fists) – I didn’t rely on HR, I accepted whatever consequence that might occur – and I assertively responded to it. The impact was a little different – not only would the bullies back off, many of them respected the stance and treated me much better for it.

I’ve been working for a couple of decades now – and with age I have mellowed. Funny enough I finally understood my father’s advice. Turning the other cheek wasn’t about ignoring the behaviour and hoping it goes away. It was about understanding what bullying was, responding to it appropriately, and not allowing it to have any power over you. You still have to stand up for yourself and be assertive in its face – but your reaction to it is more important than meeting it with an escalation of aggression.

I find EVE a little confronting on the bullying stakes.

I am not throwing the term out there indiscriminately. You can be a Pirate, or a Suicide Ganker, or a Mercenary, or a Scam Artist and so on without being a bully. I am talking about those special individuals who get pleasure from other’s unhappiness, show contempt for their targets and victims, and provide all those telling excuses and justifications for their behaviour.

A younger me might have wanted to grab the little shits around the throat with one hand, and punch their face in with the other. The older me is more likely to cringe at the reactions of their targets, knowing they are feeding the bully and not helping themselves at all.

In many ways EVE rewards bullies – aggression and the subjugation of others is one of the more obvious ways to “win”. They even get to stand for the CSM and can garner enough support to win seats.

If bullying annoys you in EVE, you might want to start by understanding how little power it actually needs to have over your game. What you can do to mitigate much of it. How you can accept or ignore some aspects of it as being a fabric of the game. Much of what you can do to mitigate the annoyance is actually within yourself. Turn the other cheek – so to speak.

If you do decide to go the metaphoric path of aggressively fighting back – you better make sure you and your copious friends have the skill, temperament, time and resources to do it very well. If you don’t land a punch and hurt the bully, all you end up doing is feeding it.

Somewhat unrelated – but I am not sure what advice I am going to give to my two children as they grow up about bullies. My 7 year old already has more than a year of Karate under his belt – but today, the youth and the playground rules appear to have changed. Back “in my day” you never had to worry about a knife being brought to school. Fights were one on one. When someone went down people did not stand around kicking them on the ground. The worst you generally got was a few scrapes, bruises, and maybe a bloody nose – not missing teeth, broken bones, and reconstructive surgery. Strangely, for all the zeal our politicians have in trying to protect us from ourselves, life seems to have gotten cheaper in the mind of society.