In this week’s spotlight, I want to discuss bullying, but not the schoolyard bullying we generally think of when the subject of bullying comes up. No, instead I want to address the idea that there is a great deal of bullying going on in our society over ideas.
We live at a time when potential tragedy seems to lurk everywhere, and this fear only heightens our sense of arousal, our readiness for fight or flight. 2020 for many people has simply become a nightmare year and the nightmare does not appear to have a quick end in sight.
With all this Covid trauma, rioting, killer hornets, political strife, and so forth, we have what my Mother used to call a short fuse. That is, the heightened sense of arousal has many people ready to go off—emotional explosions are therefore becoming more and more common.
Webster defines bullying this way, to “seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce.” We see bullying statistics on the rise. More than 1 in 5 adults report being bullied. Today adult bullying has become a real problem. It takes place in the workplace, on the roadways, in public gatherings, on Facebook, in families—indeed almost everywhere.
Not long ago I watched an episode of Orville, a space sci-fi television series. The crew of the Orville visited a planet similar to a 21st-century version of Earth. This planet’s government was a pure democracy. There were no codified laws, per se’. Instead, everyone wore an interactive badge that had likes and dislikes displayed and networked into one global computer. If someone did something, anything, that displeased a large number of fellow citizens, they began to accumulate dislikes. When the dislikes reached a given number, they were put on trial for their action. As such, the mob ruled. The remedy was correction—the guilty party was essentially lobotomized.
When I watched this episode, I thought of what goes on in our world today. I have seen social media light up with dislikes directed at shaming someone for offering an opinion that others disagreed with. I have seen so-called spiritual people post statements that while positioned as though they were coming from some lofty place, and possessing some ethical omnibenevolence, nevertheless was actually hateful of anyone who might disagree with their self-appointed omniscience.
Most people find bullying unacceptable. That said, it seems many can ignore the kind of bullying that goes on when we happen to share the opinion of the bully. Indeed, as with the Orville show, many are inclined to pile on and we end with a sort of mob rule.
Free speech is a fundamental of our society and yet there are more and more people today who insist on suffocating the expression of another that they disagree with. Communication is no longer a proposition of exchanging ideas and information. Instead, it is all about I’m right and you’re wrong and you’ll pay for this transgression.
I would encourage everyone to think again when it comes to joining the mob. You may disagree with someone, but that does not give you the right to become the intimidator—the bully!
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?
Thanks for the read,