Why Do We Believe the Perspective of Bullies?

We SAY bullying is wrong, but we BEHAVE as though the loudest voice is right

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash

You don’t have to be a child to have a bully in your life. Especially now, in the world of social media, bullies can run rampant. They have a platform to shout from to all their “friends” and a means to beat people down who disagree with them.

Do you think I am making this up? Check your Facebook or Instagram feed. Find those super opinionated folks who think theirs is the best way and will viciously attack anyone who disagrees.

What about the person who takes digs at other folks via their posts while pretending to be self-righteous?

These are your bullies.

Still, don’t believe me? How do you act as a result of their posts? Do you silently acquiesce, yet watch to see if anyone “likes” or disagrees with their posts? Do you throw up a little in your mouth when you read other people encouraging their behavior?

I know I do.

Some people do stand up to them and offer a different opinion. But those people just get lost in long Facebook feeds while our opinionated “Friend” just finds another soapbox to stand on.


There are real-life bullies too. They are typically the loudest, most opinionated voice in the room. They behave as though their perspective is the only perspective. Somehow, they have a sense that they have it all figured out and everyone needs only to listen to them.


And whether it is online or in person, here is where it gets weird for me:

WE BEHAVE AS THOUGH THE PERSPECTIVE OF THESE BULLIES ARE RIGHT.

I don’t get it!

Why do we let them win?

Why are we so cowed by the loudest voice in the room?

Why are our egos so fragile that we do not believe and behave just as they do, that WE have it all figured out?

Why do we question ourselves when confronted with a louder voice?

Why do we dread being around them?


Strong Emotions

I believe we do it because strong emotions always win. It used to make me crazy that, even in business, where emotions supposedly have no place, the strong emotions win out. Screaming customer? Give them what they want. Crying employee? Make their world a little easier.

As a Manager, I had an ex-college football player attempt to bully me with his emotions. He thought he could leave meetings with me at will if he just started yelling. My response?

“Sit your butt down. We are not done here. You DO NOT get to walk out.”

He sat. We finished our conversation. He stopped yelling. (I never yelled, just to be clear.)

The difference in this situation for me was that I knew our roles definitively. I was the manager, he was the struggling employee. His emotions did not distract me from the important issues at hand.


My roles with “friends” on social media or in friend groups are not so definitive as boss-employee. I find that I question myself-could they be right? Why are they so willing to be so loud about their opinion?


Insecurity

My mom offered a viable answer the other day: INSECURITY. Bullies are insecure about themselves, so they carry a big stick to distract us. And, maybe we are insecure about our own opinions, so we believe them.


How to Shut the Bullies Down

As adults, we have options. Perhaps the most powerful option seems cowardly to some: We can “unfollow” toxic social media bullies. We take away their voice by taking away the people who listen. When we don’t respond or engage we remove their platform.

What about the bullies that are right in front of us, in person? I advocate for removing their power by ignoring them. Sure, they may shout a little louder at first, but our non-responsiveness can show others that they don’t have to engage either. Over time, they either have to find a new group or just knock it off in general.

We stop bullies by removing the drama that drives these folks. A side benefit is that it makes our lives a little calmer as well.