The Problem With “Everything Is Bullying”
About a year ago I had a conversation with my nephew in which he was talking about being picked on at school or something to that effect. If I recall, at the time he was having some issues with a kid who he called a bully. The kid was picking on him a little bit, but it didn’t seem too awful and he even acknowledged it wasn’t all the time and wasn’t too bad. What I found interesting was the fact that he used the word “bully” to describe being picked on. And I think there is a fundamental problem with “everything is bullying”.
Now when I was a younger lad we had some bullies and they were down right dastardly. My friends and I would avoid their street walking home from school. We would make sure we were never around this one particular kid ever! This kid was definitely a bully in every sense of the word. I saw him hold a broken piece of glass to a kids throat, made another kid kiss a piece of dog poo and he’d dole out noogies like they were Christmas presents. He was such a great kid!
The conversation with my nephew made me wonder how he would be able to handle my bully in this day-n-age if he considers getting picked on as bullying.
It also got me thinking about modern society and how I think we’ve overdone it a bit. Now, don’t go blowing up my inbox until I offer this disclaimer: I think it is awesome that schools and parents are so incredibly aware of bullying and are working to create environments where bullying is eliminated.
But how do you identify what is bullying and what is not.
I guess my fear is that if you label everything as bullying then nothing becomes bullying. It devalues actual bullying; it’s almost a case of crying wolf isn’t it? Let’s face it, kids are going to pick on one another. I don’t know why children do it, but they do. And teasing isn’t necessarily bullying. But are we diminishing the true act of bullying by teaching kids to label everything as bullying?
At its core bullying is a form of oppression. It occurs when someone uses their influence or power to make someone who appears weaker to do what they want them to do. Now I do agree that if someone targets one particular individual over and over and picks on them, that could be considered bullying. But if it happens infrequently I’m not so sure.
My overall point is that it appears we’ve taken many things to the extreme with modern-day child rearing. If everything is considered bullying, if everyone gets a trophy, if there are never winners and losers, if every child is awesome and great, then what happens when these kids are dropped out of college or high school right in the middle of the real world?
What happens when these kids realize they aren’t super-duper special? What happens when they realize life is really hard? What happens when they realize there are winners and losers in life? What happens when people at work talk about them behind their back or pick on them?
When we shelter children and hide them from the world we don’t actually teach them anything and then one day life is going to consume and overwhelm them. Then what do we do with them?
We are already seeing assimilation issues with many millennials. They are struggling with basic human interaction in the work place.
My fear is that if something isn’t done there’s going to be a whole new generation of kids that simply can’t cope, depression rates will rise as will the suicide rate.
Maybe I have a dooms day view, but I don’t think I’m far off.