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.

5 thoughts on “Bullies

  1. I noticed a change about a decade ago. Long story short, I ended up holding my arms around someone’s head trying to protect it as kicks came flying in. The thing that got me was they were all pointy toed shoes.

    When I pulled one of the young women involved up about it a few days later and made the point that if they’d connected and but for chance, both his life and all of theirs would be changed forever.

    Her excuse? He pushed me over (by accident – albeit when trying to take on another guy…).

      • Unfortunately true. Women seem to be buying into the media driven ideals of beauty, what is socially acceptable from the misogynistic music and videos, through to bullying via electronic media. What happened to them literally being our better halves?

        More to the point about bullying, looking someone squarely in the eye and stating flat out you’re not interested usually stops things in their tracks. You’ve got to have serious intent behind it though. As you’ve said, they’ll sense a weakness and have a go otherwise.

        I was a skinny runt at school, but still managed to make my way through OK despite a fairly high nerd quotient and a well established sense of the absurd.

  2. I too remember when it was unspoken that you respected when two guys had a beef and needed to work it out, mano-a-mano as ’twere… go back farther than our lifetimes and you find times when that was not the standard behavior, ganging up was the order of the day…

    My fathers told me, “Be flexible in how you see life, because ‘change’ is the ‘only’ constant.” I hate the bullying in EvE. Bullying as you describe it, not gamesmanship. And we need to stand up to it. But… three things as I see it;

    1- There will always be bullies, diversity is the core of evolution and they are simply examples of less self-restricted aggression in our species.

    And I believe we need a balance of passivity and aggression in our species, so imbalances will be seen in the populace…

    2- Patterns of behavior change. This is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ except in context of the culture and the times that culture grew from.

    We currently live in a time when the ‘personal’ threat of violence is not external to our group. International threats, IE terrorism, do not apply as they are not perceived as ‘personal’ IE immediate. International threats are too non-specific and ‘over-the-horizon’ for us to feel them as immediate and personal.

    And we are a passive & aggressive species… I believe history has show that we need some form of threat to react to to assuage the aggressive side of our nature. When there is a perceived external threat, we band to together and internal aggression is reduced, when there are no external threats, we have to provide our own outlet and you see increased internal aggression like we have today. Increased bullying, shootings that make no sense, gang violence and the like.

    There was a time when we sent off the wild young men to explore the world and risk themselves in wars and the like… Maybe it is a function of our increasing population that we don’t have enough dangerous places to go to or dangerous things to do for the number of wild young men in our societies… hence games like EvE and Quake and Halo…

    3- and always remember, Bullies server at least one good purpose… they give us examples to teach our children of of how not to act towards others.

    Sry for the long comment, my muse hates me… =\

  3. I’ve become somewhat desensitized to violence over the last several years, I’m thinking do to my occupation (prison guard). My school was in a tiny town and there were guys who thought they were gangsters, but really probably didn’t even know what a gangster was. I’ve always had a natural passive personality. I never get too excited in any situation whether it be good or bad. I’ve noticed that bleed over into the Eve universe. Whenever I’m in a situation, or I see in local chat that some noob is getting taunted by a gang of thugs, and he keeps feeding them his frustration and tears, it makes my a little bit angry. I don’t jump into the conversation trying to help the noob, but I have been able to squeeze in a few harmless remarks that made the thug look like an idiot. I even get some “LOL’s” and “Hahaha’s” from other people in local. I feel proud in those moments when I feel that I can avenge someone who’s getting bullied, but they always seem to fall right back into the trap. Like you said: if you feed them, they will come.

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