It’s all around us and more rife than we think. Sometimes it happens in public and on social media platforms; other times it’s committed privately and in one on one conversations. Most of us naively believe that it is confined to school playgrounds and boys’ high school initiation ceremonies because adults should know better; adults should rise above the situation and adults are supposedly wiser. But adult bullying has crept into our everyday interactions and is so common that it is often unnoticed and sadly accepted as the new norm. We all post and like pro-feminism quotes about fixing each other’s crowns and ending girl hate; but let’s admit that envy, nastiness and blatant bitchiness are daily emotions conjured up unconsciously with the incessant bombardment of what a gourmet supper, an ideal holiday, a sculpted body and a perfect life should look like.
The very definition of the word bullying states “using superior strength or influence to intimidate or force someone into doing something.” The irony of course being that although this succinct explanation has been around for decades, it’s more apt today than ever. Sure lifestyle influencers can be entertaining and informative, but how many of us will admit that we in fact at times feel coerced into buying products or visiting a trendy restaurant simply because we have to maintain a socially acceptable standard? How much of what we allow to occupy a sizeable portion of our day is actually beneficial? While it may be simpler and definitely more convenient to pass sly or vindictive comments in cyberspace or on instant messaging groups; the damage inflicted is usually very real and raw. The anonymity of an Instagram profile opens one up to an entire online nation who can criticise you while casually having their morning coffee without even knowing your last name or how many kids you have. Of course it comes with the territory but it’s almost as if hyenas are lurking for one to make a mistake which can be pounced on and gnawed at until there’s nothing left but a torn carcus. It leaves me wondering though – is it lip-locking smacking satisfying to break a stranger’s moral or at the very least ruin someone’s day just to make your point?
While we may have outgrown the classroom and the in-crowds, workplace bullying can be just as humiliating and scary. When managers and bosses abuse their authority and then hide behind corporates’ cut throat culture , it leaves the victim feeling completely demoralized and downright useless. Cliques exist in corporates and if one doesn’t partake in after-hours socialising or conform to a certain dress code; peer pressure can take on a whole new meaning. Strong leadership has nothing to do with belittling and mocking but rather guidance and mentorship. There’s a balance between exerting control and power tripping. The good news is that office bullying is finally receiving the recognition that it deserves and there are many channels that can be pursued to rectify the situation albeit a difficult and tiresome road.
I think we can all agree that most people are inherently good and no sane person awakens with a devious plot to ruin another’s day (except maybe if you are Stefano Dimera!). So that makes me wonder how does it happen that certain comments get nuked within minutes? Is it perhaps that we dislike people to have different opinions on something we feel strongly about? Or is it perhaps that the tone or body language may have been too harsh and the initial message was lost from the outset? It could also possibly be a simple misunderstanding that escalates when our egos are hurt and points are trying to be proven? On the other side of Salem (I’m really giving away that Days of Our Lives occupied a sizeable chunk of my teenage years!) are the spectators, the onlookers, the bystanders. The online family that will like never hit that like button nevermind pass a supporting comment even if one summited Everest without supplies! The see-everything-but-say-nothing phenomenon puzzles me more than a complicated entremet recipe. Does it take something away from you by acknowledging someone else’s achievement? Or are showing support and being kind not values that feature high on your morals list?
So while women’s abilities and aspirations are limitless; it seems so are their tongues (or their stylus!). While some build others up; others demolish. While we preach support and encouragement; our actions can be to the contrary. We need a lot more Hope Bradys in this world and a lot less demon – possessed Marlena Evans!
Life Book Hacks:
1. Be kind even if you are having a terrible day, week, month or year. You have no idea what the next woman is enduring and one kind word can make all the difference.
2. Do not post anything while you are angry or hurt. Social media can be very ugly and it is the worst form of therapy.
3. Be open to constructive criticism in all aspects of your life. None of us are perfect and we should always be susceptible to improving bad habits and shortcomings.
4. Use words to uplift, motivate and support. They cost nothing but are treasure. Remember that the opposite also holds true!