How To Be Bully Proof

How to Be Free of Bullies

Game to beat cyber-bullying: Monkey Bars

Cyber Bullying

Cyber Bullying is another tough one to stop, but following on from role power bullying we can see how much the David and Goliath story can help.

David and Goliath is one of the best stories about standing up to bullies. It reminds us that however much smaller or weaker than the bully we are, we can still beat them. You can always find their Achilles Heel.

Like court summons stamped to look like they have come from the law, your teacher picking on you, a parent showing you up in front of company or withholding your pocket money, bullying that happens on line is very difficult to ignore. This is even more so when it is not just unpleasant but damaging.

It is very important to:

  1. Identify it as bullying
  2. Look for weaknesses in the bully
  3. Hit back

There is some more good news: There is an important way in which cyber bullying is different to all other sorts of bullying. Part of your defence artillery in cases of cyber bullying can be third parties.

However, third party involvement in cyber bullying has to be as new and different from third party involvement in pre-internet bullying as cyber bullying is from pre-Internet bullying.

What did that mean (I even asked myself).

What I’m trying to say is if bullies get clever with social media to find new ways to torment their victims, then organisations who fight bullying ought to be getting just as clever and finding ways to stop bullying online. It’s all part of hitting back. Someone hits you, you hit back. Simple as.

Ganging up

We all know from probably our first days at school in nursery, what a disaster “telling” on a bully can be. One of the worst memories I have of being bullied happened when I was 4 years old, in the second year of nursery at my primary school (as I was still too young for Transition). All I remember is the black cloud outside (we had our break inside due to the weather), me being picked on, telling the teacher, her stopping the whole group from playing and delivering a lecture about how to treat people and then whole class then turning on me. I don’t remember any details. I just remember the misery and terror.

It's important to plan a strategy that involves equal impact in your response to put off bullying

It’s important to plan a strategy that involves equal impact in your response to put off bullying

In much the same way as at national level, there is an unwritten law about fighting our own battles. But all is fair in love and war, so next we need to look at our defence budget to avoid being targeted online.

What kinds of attack do bullies use over the Internet?
Unfortunately, online attacks can make use of the multi-media platforms available on the Internet. Luckily, so can your defence.  Cyber bullies can use:

  • Words – direct attacks.
  • Pictures
  • Networks (like gangs)
  • Persistence (cyber stalking)
  • Saturation (using various different platforms including social media, texts and emails)
  • Words – ridicule/humiliation/taunts/defamation/rumours etc.
  • Imprisonment – when they make you afraid to leave a network, scared to use it or when they cause you to be excluded from it.

One thing cyber bullies cannot use, of course, is physical violence in the instance. They can threaten it or even plan it. That is why it is important to hit back at cyber bullies in a way that hits them where it hurts to make them stop their actions.

Why not just ignore them?

Indifference to bullies online is going to be effective as you can afford to ignore them in the instance where the bullying is all happening on line and the attack is not physical.

Don’t forget to work out before you start any form of defense to look and see exactly what the attack looks like. Does the bully have any hidden weapons? Could someone have photographed you having a cheeky snog with someone at a party that you don’t want your current partner to see? See what they might have in their artillery before you take any action at all.

Of course nasty words are hard to ignore especially when someone you are connected to or who you are acquainted with starts hurling abuse at you on a social networking site.  It is just unpleasant. I’ve had this from unexpected quarters (people can fly off the handle when written communication is not perfect or they are too passionate about something to make sure they’ve understood properly) but it is easy and satisfying to punish. It is as unacceptable for someone to start hurling abuse at you by text as it is for them to do it in speech.

Don’t forget my bottom line rule:

You have an absolute right to be treated the way you want to be and to stop yourself being treated the way you don’t want to be.

We can, of course, but only try to be treated well all the time but you might be amazed how many people don’t try at all. I was speaking from experience there as I used to let people walk all over me and they were surprised when I suddenly started standing up for myself. They quickly scuttled away when I did though. However, as a general rule, it’s best not to have too much contact with people who don’t make us feel good or who aren’t good friends. That leaves more room for the people we like.

Monkey Bars designed to be fun AND healthy

Monkey Bars designed to be fun AND healthy

You have just the same source materials for your cyber defense as the bully has. Stopping their campaign against you may involve using all your computer skills or teach you some new ones. Maybe think of the battle against a bully like a computer game.  (In fact it might make a very constructive and educational computer game).

OK, I am going to continue as if the battle with your cyber bully is a computer game.

I’m going to call it Monkeybars.

Like Falconhoof in Limmy’s hilarious Adventure Call,  I am going to be the narrator. You need to think of what you would do to stop a bully in each of the scenes I can think up.

As they say in the scouts, always be prepared. This is a type of preparation.

Please take your weapons:

  • Indifference (the Weapon of Mass Destruction, but if not played skilfully, can trigger a deadly counter attack).
  • Military (the forming of a defence army)
  • Propoganda (a counter attack using pictures or rumours across social media)
  • Prisoner of War camp (when you restrict their movements online)
  • Espionage (when you enter social media to survey their activities undercover to gather information)
  • Biological (placing items they won’t want to see where they can see them)
  • Scare tactics (when you use social media to – obviously – scare them)
  • Decimation (finding ways to reduce the size of their gang).
  • Raid (when you organise a suitable third party to help you. Be careful to not appear weak. If you “accept a duel” by arranging a face to face, don’t expect them to play clean. If you have police ready to arrest them at a fight, for example, they have to have done something to warrant arrest before the police will act. Be careful.
  • Road block (obviously this is done by making it hard for them to contact you).
  • Exposure (when you find something to hold them ransom over).
  • Decryption (changing passwords).
  • Assassination (smeering someone).

Of course, if you think up any other weapons, make a note of them. This list is not conclusive.

How to play Monkeybars:

Write or draw how you would deal with the following cyber bully attacks:

Let Monkey Bars begin:

  1. You go onto Facebook and a picture of yourself you really don’t like appears in the newsfeed.
  2. People across a network start sharing a derogatory post or photo of you across your newsfeed.
  3. A group of people are passing round nasty pictures of you that can be seen by people in your shared social network.
  4. Someone posts up threatening comments to your posts.
  5. Someone sends repulsive pictures to you on Snapchat.
  6. Someone starts a rumour about you amongst your social network.
  7. Someone tells you that derogatory posts about you are being spread around social media amongst networks of people you are not connected with online.
  8. Someone tells you that an attack on you is being planned online.
  9. Someone threatens a smeer campaign against you online.
  10. Someone threatens to tell someone else something about you that will be disruptive.
  11. A hate group against you is set up.
  12. Someone hacks into your account(s) and “frapes” you by posting as you.
  13. You find out people in your network are organising something and deliberately and maybe publicly excluding you.

Strategies

As you can see, some of your defense arsenal may look like “reactions”. For example, if someone starts by hacking into your account and starts posting as you, this can be remedied by changing your password. However, at this point you may not know how malicious the attack actually is. It may just be someone who doesn’t mean harm, but has a dark sense of humour. Maybe they want to tell you something and don’t know how, so they attack you instead.  The best way to start your research is to ask the person what is up.

Getting your strategy head on.

Getting your strategy head on.

This is where you have to trust your instincts and consider your next action before you react. Ideally, after you have changed your password so they cannot hack into your account, you need to take stock before doing anything else. This is the “prevention rather than cure” approach, which you can use to work out what might be going on.

Nothing can beat hitting the nail on the head, i.e. being able to get a clear understanding of what is happening before you take any action. Knowledge is power here and you can think about what you know about the person who has seemingly cyber attacked you. Is there anything you can think of that could have caused their attack?

Chess

Do you play chess? If so, the way that a chess game is played can provide clues to help you master Monkeybars, or the reality of being cyber stalked.

This of how, in chess:

  1. Each piece has its own way of moving.
  2. Each piece has its place in a pecking order from weakest to strongest, but they all have a use and a place.
  3. Both players take moves in turn.
  4. You can play on the attack, defence or use a longer term strategy.
  5. You may have more or fewer pieces on the board, but that doesn’t guarantee you will win or lose the game.

If you think about cyber bullying as a kind of computer game, it might help you to see the whole thing more objectively than if you take it personally. Remember, all types of bullying from a child slapping the family pet to a world war are not personal.

Bullying on every scale is based on:

  • Opportunism ie stalking out a suitable victim.
  • Wanting to gain something the bully wants.
  • Power and control.
  • Reaction.
  • Inability to communicate effectively.
  • Selfishness.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Lack of self awareness.

Because the threats coming from cyber bullying are new and different, it is more important and a good opportunity to look at the psychology behind the bullying attack you are facing.

This would be similar to the type of thinking done by a strategist in government when a country is under threat of war. But the long and short term causes of a potential war are similar but on a bigger scale to the type of thinking you could do to prevent yourself being targeted by a cyber bully.

You may even find a few moves which work well to share with your friends.

The Weapon of Mass Destruction – Indifference

Ignoring a bully face-to-face can be tough and even potentially risky. Remember the thing about working out if you can afford to ignore bullying.

The good news is that online, you can appear to be indifferent to bullying, while actually keeping tabs on the situation in case you need to act. It could be possible to appear to be indifferent for long enough for the bully to give up on you as a victim if you employ a cunning strategy of indifferent defense.

The most important part about indifference is that the bully thinks they have absolutely no purchase on you whatsoever. It doesn’t work if you don’t respond to the bully but let them find out how hurt you are by their bullying. That is not indifference. Of course you can see the difference between indifference and ignoring. Let’s look at the words.

Indifference – no difference either way.  Take it or leave it. No reaction directly or indirectly. Appearing not to care. Responding freely without worrying about the outcome. Neutral.

Ignoring – not knowing (from part of the word ignorance), not wanting to find out, deliberately going the other way, not responding. Fearing what’s ahead. Avoidance. Refusal to engage with something.

Definitions

The way the word ‘ignore’ online is interesting. To ignore something is to not give it a response, and yet social media asks us to click a button to ignore something.

Indifference is impersonal whereas ignoring something is more personal.  If you ask someone what they think of Harry and they just shake their head saying they don’t know, that is indifference. If you ask them about Harry and they say they don’t want to know, that is ignoring. Isn’t it funny there that the word ignorance means something else to us, other than the act of ignoring something.

This way of asking someone to ‘ignore’ something by clicking a button makes this type of ignoring personal. If I don’t want to accept a friend request and want to actually ignore someone, I will not respond to the friend request one way or other. Therefore I will act indifferently and not give it any attention. Being truly ignored makes it much harder to contact someone as it appears as if they haven’t noticed you.

The bully being not noticed by you is a key strategy.

Imagine if someone had started up a smeer campaign against you on social media and you were not reacting at all, not putting up grumpy posts about how horrible some people are and seemed to be carrying on as normal, without defriending or blocking that person, just letting them do whatever they want to do? OK, it wouldn’t be too nice if other people, particularly those you got on with are taken in by the smeer campaign.

However a strategy of indifference has to be played from beginning to end.

Imagine playing a game of chess in which you stuck to your game strategy – one you already know is successful – and didn’t react to any attack moves by your opponent? Do you think your game would be stronger? Would you be more at risk of winning or losing? Are you the type of person who would lose your nerve when their knight threatens your queen and suddenly divert off your game plan to defend your strongest piece?

I am not saying the way you play (or don’t play) chess is the same way you ought to fight a bully. Remember I said that cyber bullying provided newer and different ways to attack a person and therefore newer and different ways to defend yourself were needed. It is a good time to look at the psychology of online bullying to see what is new and different about it.

Espionage

One of the beauties of the Internet is the possibility to be finding out information about someone without their knowledge. You can also interact with someone without them knowing it is you. This is part of building your defence army. If there is someone you trust to help you beat your bully, they might help you go undercover online to get information about the bully to help you defend yourself against them.

Passivity and indifference

By harnessing various aspects of social media, it is possible to convey yourself in a way that it is difficult or even impossible to bully. This would reduce the occurrence of cyber bullying that you will encounter. I’ve got some suggestions on how you could do that.

Suggestions

  • Keep your posts, pictures, shares or comments impersonal, even when interacting with close friends. Keep anything personal to direct messaging, so you know exactly who is reading what you post.
  • Think about how you want to project yourself publicly. Think of any differences between the personas of well-known comedians and how they project themselves on social media. What do you notice? I think some are almost too personal and I’m being presented with someone I don’t know personally, am not friends with and don’t want to know intimate details about.
  • The above is another reason to keep personal information amongst your real friends.
  • Look to keep humour up or keep deep, heavy, serious, upset or angry posts for when it is absolutely necessary. In other words, if one of your parents has died and suddenly your social network has gone silent, you may need to say something to let people know you’d really like them to carry on as normal, not feel awkward or worry about what they say to you. Social media is good for the occasional friend-prod but it must be something you can stand behind publicly, not something you regret saying.
  • Be powerful and responsible. This might sound strange. It is very difficult to bully someone who seems to be in control.  If you manage your social media presence well, you will never have to use memes asking people to share your post to show you they love you. If people don’t respond to your posts much, perhaps you haven’t mastered your online presence yet. Don’t blame other people and try some different approaches. Whinging sucks on social media.
  • Take a wide perspective on the social media landscape you are part of. Try to see the bigger picture. If everyone posts the same memes saying ‘I read all your posts but want to see who actually reads my posts. Please share this…….’ No. (to me that will guarantee that is the last post by them I read). I don’t want my wall plastered, yes, covered with identical memes from lots of whiney people all saying ‘poor little me’. I’m responsible for my posts and the ones I share by other people. There is no way I want to support sentiments I totally disagree with.

Rant over

Yes. That was a little rant I had to get out of the way. However, it fits in with the premise of this book which is to show you ways to not be bullied. I’ve used personal experience and victories to come up with the ideas I’ve given and I do live by them myself. Since I started writing this, I’ve faced new experiences and the flow of writing (mostly on the train) has produced new ideas which spread further than the avoidance of bullies.

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