About eight years ago, I wrote an article on bullying for a writing website called Suite 101. I haven’t checked but I don’t believe it’s still up and running. I wrote about baby bullies becoming adult bullies, about the personality of the bully, the bully in the workforce and about the long-term emotional harm done to those who are the brunt of bullying. It was astonishing to see the comments to this article. People from all occupations posted their painful personal experiences; others called out for help; and still more reacted in gratitude.
I wrote the article because I was bullied by a single individual for almost a year. It was at a center for higher education, as they are called, and we were both professionals, again using the vernacular. This was one of the most painful experiences of my life, and as an adult, I was shocked that it occurred. Many workdays ended in tears, and had it not been for a strong support network and my own self confidence, there’s no doubt my persona would’ve been ripped to shreds.
The bullying stopped when I stood up to the bully. Literally, I stood up, faced her and would not let her take an inch toward my personal space. I stared her down and said something akin to a threat. That was it. She stopped. Not only did she stop, she decided I was her confidante. Over the next few years, she revealed a painful childhood that continued into her service as a Marine, and then as the neglected, sexually used and abused wife of a police officer.
I bring up the article and my experience as a prelude to my online tactics on Twitter. I do think of them as “tactics,” rather than reactionary tweets.
I, like many Hillary Clinton supporters, have been called demeaning names, insulted for my gender, and maligned for my support of Clinton. My response has been nothing short of aggressive in many instances. At other times, I use ridicule. And more often now, I employ a dismissive Block.
My switch to the insta-block came after a series of uninvited tweets from one of Bernie’s fan club members. Her last message to me was: “Go kill yourself.” An alarm bell went off. I sat staring at that sentence on my screen. Self said to self: “You do not need to see this crap.” Like it or not, the ugliness penetrates into our psyche. It can leave an open wound, easily aggravated or a slowly healing scar. It’s best we not allow it entry.
We’ll soon be entering a new phase of the political process. I am certain that the Bernie Bros will leave the scene. However, I am also confident that we Hillary supporters will be facing a new menace and fresh hordes of bullies from the Trump campaign.
We’ve been through almost a year of the bared-teeth, finger-in-your-face aggression of Bernie Sanders and its online translation. I’m tired of it all. Exhausted with the onslaught of digital fisticuffs, taunts and slurs. I cannot imagine how Hillary Clinton bears it. I expect she has learned techniques. I also believe she is aware of what we experience in our social media domains. Just a week ago, in a presentation somewhere (AIPAC?), she stood solid and said “Stand up to bullies.”
Clinton was referencing Trump. And, I believe she was sending that message to us as well – her cohort of maligned Tweeters. This is when I sense her as a human being – a woman who really does care, despite all the nonsense to the contrary.
Standing up to bullies will be – or is – an intangible yet concrete strategy of the Clinton campaign. That includes you and me. We have to stay fresh. We have to exude enthusiasm for our candidate. We cannot be diminished or demolished by the bullies.
How to do it? I’ve started by recognizing “bullying” as a tactic of the opposition. I understand why it is done. And I am protecting myself. That’s the best I can do at the moment. We each need this consciousness. As far as mechanisms, I think it’s important that we band together. We can become tribes that congregate, refresh, vent and lend support through the DM option on Twitter. We can call out for help when the gang-bangers attack, and know that our friends will be there. If there’s one trait I’ve noticed thus far, it’s that the bullies gang up on a single individual. We have to deploy the same tactic in a defensive posture. Sounds like war, yes. It is. However, I know we’ll get through it. My visual reminder, at the end of an evening or during an assault, comes from Hillary. I’ll sign off with this empowering reminder.