On the definition of a bully. Most people actually do know what it means, but oftentimes, bullies (who don’t always know that they are bullies) wind up being the ones asking for people to ‘define’ the term.
So for those continually asking for a definition of a bully, here it is.
The Canadian Oxford Dictionary, Second Edition, defines a bully as: “a person who uses strength or power to coerce others by fear.” The transitive verb bullies or bullied is described as: “persecute or oppress by force or threats.”
It has long been assumed that one must “have the upper hand” or “be more powerful than” someone to bully them. However, the description above begs to differ; all it says is strength or power. It doesn’t say that the victim of said bullying doesn’t have strength or power as well – it just means that power is used in a negative way.
The definition of bullying and of being a bully seems to be a hot topic lately, especially in the SPN fandom. If I – someone who has just over 400 followers on Twitter – take to my keyboard to go after someone who has way more followers than I have, am I bullying? The answer is yes. Because I am using my power to persecute or oppress someone. It doesn’t matter how much power the victim has.
Bullying happens to everyone. Even our tall moose of a man, Jared Padalecki, who said the following earlier this year, when he and Genevieve spoke for Senate Bill 179, also known as David’s Law, which would target cyberbullying.
“I stand before you today as somebody who has long fought against parts of his nature to feel accepted. As an adolescent I dealt with bullying; I wasn’t always 6’4” and on television. I’m certain we’ve all dealt with bullying to some degree. For me, luckily I was blessed with loving parents who are still together today; a great role model for an older brother … and a younger sister who I wanted to be a proper role model for. … I had friends; I excelled in school and in sports. I knew my parents and my extended family were proud of me, and I’d often witness them bragging about me. My blessings are, and were, numerable.
“With all these weapons at my disposal, with all the support that I had, I was still gutted when school bullies set their sights on me. Mental and psychological bullying, and especially in today’s world – cyberbullying – is not like a physical injury. Bruises go away, cuts and scrapes heal. Even the odd broken bone, if repaired properly, will work as well or better than it ever did. But that is not the case with psychological injuries. Psychological injuries compile. They stack up. And they’ll never go away unless properly dealt with.”
For too long, bullying has been an assumed quality in our fandom – a reflection of the world’s environment, as well. People who ship different characters together don’t get along; people with different political views don’t get along – you’d think we’d all be a happy family because of the underlying thing that ties us together – we all love this wonderful show called Supernatural.
But we don’t. Because we’re all different people, we all make mistakes, and sometimes we get caught up in the situation without taking a deep breath …
Why do people bully? I don’t purport to be a psychologist of any sort, but I do believe that it has a lot to do with the feeling of inadequacy. People who bully feel bad about themselves, for whatever reason – and they feel better after making someone else feel bad, so that they aren’t alone in that feeling.
Let’s get back to that word, power. Bullying increases a hold a bully has over the victim – I can make them cry, I can make them lash out, oh look, I can make them do whatever I want them to do. Again, this reflects a lack in the bully’s life – if they feel like they have no control over their lives, they will try to find control elsewhere.
Human beings are social creatures. We like to talk amongst ourselves, to discuss things, to share, to listen and to be heard. Being social – and having interaction with those around you – is very satisfying. But we need to focus on making those interactions positive ones. I’m not saying don’t ever argue with someone, don’t ever have a different opinion – I’m saying provide your criticism in a constructive way, without name calling or, well, bullying. Say, “Well, I understand where you’re coming from, but have you thought of it this way?”
I will leave you with another quote from Jared’s speech:
“… Let’s start to move toward a society where we accept each other, even though we are different. No, let’s accept each other, especially because we’re different. Let’s work towards offering the marginalized and the easy targets support. I know I’ve certainly made it through some tough spots with a kind word or gesture from a fellow person. Let us work to get those who try to fill their own void with animosity, vitriol, and hatred the help that they need so that they’re not part of something that can’t be reversed.”