Bullies are everywhere.
Sadly, they seem to be a constant fixture in any social group. It does not matter what age we are, what job we have, where we went to school, what we own, or what we know. If we participate in any social group, we are bound to meet some bullies.
Not all bullies are equal. Some are more vicious and effective than others.
Not all social groups are equal. Some attract more bullies than others.
The workplace, for example, is a frequent bully hangout. This is because bully strategies are often encouraged and rewarded in the workplace.
Online forums are also a breeding ground for bullies because of the same reasons. Learn more about why hurtful words from a bully can be so painful.
What is a Forum Bully?
Bullying is about power and dominance. In online forums, bullies use words to intimidate, isolate, and degrade their victims.
Bullies are generally easy to pick out. Here are some common forum bully traits –
- Bullies use unsubstantiated personal attacks to denigrate their victims. Often, they make fun of their victim’s intelligence, get everyone to laugh at him, and in doing so isolates and degrades their target. In this way, their victim is neutralized, and serves as a strong reminder to everyone of the bully’s power. Bullies rule through fear.
- Bullies usually attack weak or new targets. The best way to get yourself into a bully’s little black book of horrors is to appear weak, uncertain, and emotionally vulnerable. New members to a social group are also a bully’s favorite because they are new, unproven, and do not yet have a support system. They are alone – and therefore easier to hunt-down and kill.
- Bullies hate being challenged and they hate losing. Another quick way to get yourself into the black book of horrors is to publicly challenge a bully, especially a head bully. A bully’s power rests in his ability to control others through fear. If they are challenged and they lose, it will significantly erode their power. As a result, they will use excessive force to defeat public challenges.
- Bullies usually hunt in packs. There is safety and strength in numbers. As we said before, bullies hate losing, so they try to go for a sure kill.
- Bullies are afraid of strength. If they spot strong new members to the community, they will first try to recruit them. If that fails, they will usually leave them alone. Strong targets are risky and usually end up costing the bully more than he gains.
- Bullies are in-love with themselves. They have little to no empathy, and are only interested in their own activities, and their own power. A bully may help others who are in his gang, or help other respected members of the community, but only for his own advancement and glory.
Why Be a Forum Bully?
Bullying is popular in online forums, and other online social groups because –
- The internet is largely anonymous. Studies show that when we are anonymous, we feel less inhibited. For example, when we wear a costume and cover up our face with a mask, we feel more free to take risks. The internet allows us all to easily put on a mask and outfit. Being anonymous creates more freedoms and removes judgement based on physical appearance, race, income, and more. However, it also allows us to escape responsibility for our actions, including verbal abuse and bully behavior. Many forum bullies use the internet as a release mechanism for their real-world anger or frustration. Since they cannot shout at their boss, co-workers, or neighbors without real-world consequences, they take their frustrations out in an anonymous online forum, where there are no real consequences for their anti-social behavior.
- Negative interactions get more attention. Human nature is such that we respond more quickly and more strongly to negative comments. In this way, forum bullies are the ones that get the most attention and the most followers. This online attention positively reinforces the bullying behavior, which causes more bullying to occur. Today, many people are trying to make money online through advertising. Getting forum attention generates more buzz, this gets them more traffic, which translates into more money.
How to Fight Forum Bullies
Our instinct is to fight fire with fire, to fight the negative by returning it in kind. However, that is a losing battle.
One of the key reinforcers for the forum bully is attention.
It does not matter to him whether it is negative or positive attention as long as it is attention. By responding, we are giving the bully what he wants. In addition, by giving an emotional, negative response, we are letting the bully know that he has gotten under our skin.
1. Do not let forum bullies affect you.
Forum bullies are the scum of the Earth and they deserve nothing from us – not our attention, not our time, and certainly not our emotional well-being. One of the best ways to deal with online bullies is to hit the delete button. If we cannot delete their comment in fact, then simply delete it from our consciousness and move on.
Forum bullies are after attention so they may try to egg you on by further calling you names, calling you a coward, and raging on in a negative fashion. They will try to bring you down to their own sad level of existence.
Delete, ignore, and a bully will shout himself out, like a young child throwing a tantrum. Hopefully, he will learn from this experience and find more productive activities with which to fill his time. Otherwise, he will simply continue to fritter his time away in negative pursuits, which will hurt him a lot more than it hurts us.
2. Report bullies to the forum administration.
The best way to create a healthy social environment is to report bullying behavior to the administration. In this way, the bullying is quickly stopped, and we can all get back to productive and constructive discussions, that actually involve the exchange of information.
We want to stop bullying and pointless personal attacks because it will quickly ruin a perfectly good online community. If the community forum gets taken up with mostly tit-for-tat type shouting, nobody in their right mind would want to visit, much less participate.
Many people act as if reporting bullying behavior is somehow cowardly, or is a suppression of free-speech. That is not the case at all. Bullying should be stopped because it is bad for the health of a community, and it clogs up the information channels with useless, pointless, and negative bickering. Bullying and personal attacks are not free-speech, rather it is verbal abuse. If we care about the community, we should all do our part to stop forum bullying.
We are often very affected by our surrounding social environment. The more bullying there is, the more bullying it will attract. If we create an environment that is unfriendly to bullying, then these online thugs will go somewhere else to spread their particular form of decay and rot.
3. Fight fire with water.
It is a big waste of time to interact with forum bullies. However, if we feel compelled to converse with our friendly online thug, then the only way to fight negative verbal attacks is by dispelling it with humor and positive energy. Rehabilitating a forum bully will take a lot of patience and a lot of positive energy. There is little point to it unless we are applying for Sainthood.
Are You a Forum Bully?
Most of us do not think of ourselves as bullies. We are all heroes in our own minds, and a bully is no exception. In fact, many bullies see themselves as a fearless fighter for God, Country, and the path to Righteousness. The truth is, there is a forum bully in every one of us.
- Sometimes we get angry, and we lash back at others.
- Sometimes we get hurt, and we lash back at others.
- Sometimes we are busy, and do not realize that we have said something hurtful or negative.
The key though is to recognize those negative actions and to take steps to correct them. When we commit negative acts and bullying behavior, we not only hurt others, but actually end up hurting ourselves most.
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.—Matthew 5:38–42, NIV
Today, many of us see nonresistance or nonviolence as a weakness. After all, if we turn the other cheek, we may just keep getting slapped. Therefore, we are encouraged to slap back and show strength. Bullies try to turn everyone into their likeness by calling us cowards for not resorting to verbal violence.
I used to think that “turning the other cheek” was a weakness. After all, why should I spare pain to a bully when he seems to have no concern for me or others. It was not until later that I realized that “cheek turning” is not really for the bully, but for me.
Negative energy infects, and bullies carry negative energy like plague ridden fleas. The way to combat this particular plague is not by spreading more negative energy. Rather, we want to dispel the negativity with positive energy or just ignore the flea and use plenty of repellent.
“someone is rude to me”
“someone disagrees with me on the internet, they must be a bully”
I’ve seen so much over exaderation to the point I forget what real bullying looks like. even giving a negitive review or being mean and rude is bullying “this skit sucks, learn how to write before you film” or “You are 16, stop playing with baby dolls like you are 7 you don’t want to be made fun of, don’t film yourself breast feeding a barbie on youtube and it not being a trolling act”
it is bullying.
The best way to deal with online bullies is to permanently leave the forums and site they’re on, block them and report them if you can, delete blogs you have they may be following or disable comments if you can. Don’t stoop down to their level because it could get you kicked off the Internet for violating the terms of service. Report them to their Internet Service provider.
Note. I do not look ugly and at least *act* friendly but inside I am seething in anger as people make excuses to stay away from me as much as possible and I feel like pounding these people in the face.
I do have SA and I wonder if they can somehow sense that which I wonder how can I better cover up my SA so they won’t feel the urge to run?
I’ve lost so many friends because of having SA and their refusal to understand despite me having lots of interests.
Why do I seem to easily repeal people?
I don’t disagree with anything in your hub, it’s well written and is a great perspective. I’d just like to add that there is also the situation where a person may percieve they are being bullied when in fact they are not, written text is sometimes easy to misinterpret, whether it was sarcasm to drive a point home or some other comment to offer perspective or question and dig for the other side to expand an argument into good debate- it can easily be seen as an attack when it was not. What becomes worse is when others join in to discuss it and the one who is on the minority side of a disagreement may feel as if they have been ganged upon when really, it’s simply an attempt to have indepth debate.
that does not mean bullying isn’t real, and doesn’t happen. It happens a lot. but there are also many cases of percieved bullying and it perhaps is even worse to be perceived if it has legitimately happened before when the “victim ” assumes they are a repeat victim….etc
it’s a great article. We just need to remember to spot the difference when we can- and in both cases….fight fire with water like you said! What a great analogy!!!
I’ll leave the name of the forum off, but I was recently on a forum making a wrestling diary made a mistake in the diary and had a wrestler that did not wrestle in the 2001 era, I was quickly called out by 2 people on the forum who attacked me for making a mistake in the diary dome. Then my email on the website was spammed first by one guy then user after user joined in spamming my inbox. Then they got ahold of my actual email address and began spamming that one as well. I had been a member of the site for about 2 years before this, I rarely ever visited the forum till late. I once had a conversation with a member on the forum who was upset because his nephew had passed away. I talked about how I had been through hell these last couple of years and how my baby cousin who was 5 months old and suffered from hypoplastic left heart syndrome. well some of the users on the forum hacked into my inbox on the forum and took pictures of this conversation and posted it all over the forum as about 10 different users took turns making fun of my 5 month old dead cousin. one guy even stated wonder if the dead baby is being eaten by worms now, then they took turns making jokes. I complained to the moderator and about an hour later I found my account was banned from the website. I did have a second account though to the site and logged in it to read a moderator posting a comment that I had complained to him and the other moderators of the website, about the inbox hacking, cyber bullying etc, so we had to ban the idiots account for complaining. And then the moderator started telling dead baby jokes like how do you make a dead baby float?Take your foot off of it’s head.
I wanted to share this story to show the truth of cruel people can be on forums
This is why bullying or cyber bullying should be a hate crime.
The reason why the religion threads become a slow train wreck is because both Atheists and Christians use the King James Bible which has poor translations from the original Hebrew words like the original Hebrew for “Thou Shalt Not Kill” means Thou Shalt Not Murder but the translation was off because after all it was written by humans over centuries which then becomes like The Telephone Game.
I actually was at a church that had kids go straight to the KJB which my parents pulled me out of because they knew it was bad news since that particular bible is NOT for beginners with it’s hard to read passages and kids will easily quote a passage out of context if they are not careful.
Mr Common Sense says
I find it sad when people who claim to be either nice atheists or Christians suddenly start cussing each other out.
Dad actually saw a forum when the internet was new where 2 supposed Christians were arguing and swearing at each other for pages and pages and he gave up hoping to read an honest discussion.
That is NOT at all *Christ like* behavior which the bible says that those kind of hypocrites will get the worst punishment out of all of them then if they didn’t believe in God at all.
Diana Lee says
Good article and advice to this mad world overcome with so much violence. Words can be just as hurtful as a slug in the face.
Aya Hajime says
Thank you Diana.
Yeah, it is too bad that we let the bad things affect us more. Sometimes, it seems like rudeness has become the norm, but in going through my comments I find only less than 10% that are rude. I guess, the bad stuff just affects us more, and it really shouldn’t.
vox vocis says
When I find an interesting forum thread, I read everyone’s posts and agree, and disagree out loud, so that my four walls can hear me 🙂 Sigh here and there, and I walk away. Because of all you stated, I avoid commenting on forums. They seem like a big, hot melting pot and I’m afraid of being cooked for supper (because I can’t keep my opinion to myself – “silence is gold” – I’m learning to make it my motto)!
Aya Hajime says
LOL! Yeah, I have learned to stay away from all those angry threads in Politics and Religion.
I have also learned to adopt a similar policy with angry comments. Every time I get sucked in, it does not turn out well for anyone.
Btw. love your profile pic!
vox vocis says
Oh yes, politics and religion – “my favorite topics” LOL
I’m glad you like my avatar. I think it describes me perfectly (I don’t wear glasses but my husband calls me “square eyes” because I spend long hours looking at my computer screen or reading five books at once :))
Aya Hajime says
Hahaha, yeah I am like that too. I should put some glasses on my profile pic! 😀
Man is a social animal seeking social recognition whenever the conditions “appear” conducive. Why spoil their fun!
Great article as always! Cheers and happy holidays!
Aya Hajime says
Happy Holidays QS!
No, there is about a dozen, a little hub click that does this everywhere, and HP ignores it.
Yes, difficult to walk away the first time, or the next, but some of it goes on and on, I discovered reading one thread in the religion forum. This is bullying by people that ‘exist’ only in the forum world, have not published a hub here, yet have made thousands and thousands of comments in the hub pages forum.
Aya Hajime says
Yeah, have seen those. I usually avoid the Religion and Politics forums. However, sometimes when I am bored I will check out a thread or two. It is like watching a soap opera. 😀
No kidding, that was my one and only venture in to that world. Of course I did not comment, and silently fled away thanking my lucky stars for the ‘back’ click.
When Dad went to a supposed Christian forum to have an interesting discussion about archeology stuff that has been found all he saw were threads were two people were cussing each other out and the mods doing nothing about it. Not even locking the threads when they were out of context.
I have seen that as well on religion and spiritual forums get ruined any chance of decent conversation unless it’s a cliched group and then you have to know somebody in that group in order to get any advice or you will be looked upon as suspicious.
Why acknowledge their existence? If you ignore them, they die!!!
Aya Hajime says
@snakeslane – Thanks snakeslane. I think it can sometimes be difficult to walk away.
@LindaSmith1 – As far as I know, HP temporarily bans hubbers who personally attacks another, if they are reported.
@MomTech – Thanks MomTech. Happy Holidays and thanks for dropping by. 🙂
@PWalker281 – “People are reporting this behavior, but it appears HP isn’t doing anything about it despite the fact that it violates the HP TOS.” … That is an interesting point. Different people have different opinions as to what constitutes bullying. As you say though, we always have the power to take our attention away.
@CMHypno – Yeah, sadly bullies are everywhere. The worst bully I met was this girl in middle-school and high-school. She controlled everyone in the class through intimidation and making life miserable for anyone who dared to challenge her. I think support from parents and teachers can help a lot in these cases. I know that Yahoo Answers deletes personal attack type posts and bans the user. I don’t participate on Facebook much, do they also remove personal attack type posts? Is there a simple way to report bullies?
Interesting hub. But is goes beyound forums, as there have been some horrible examples in the UK of trolls going onto dead teenagers RIP pages on Facebook and leaving vile, abusive comments to the great distress of family and friends. Maybe in extreme cases there needs to be real consequences in the real world?
This is one of the best descriptions of online bullying and what to do about it that I’ve ever read. It confirms for me that a fellow hubber I’d just started chatting with via email is, in fact, a bully.
I interpret the “turn the other cheek” passage from the Bible to mean that what we put our attention on expands. By turning the other cheek, we take our attention away from from the negative behavior, and, as you say, when we do that, it dissolves because we are no longer feeding it.
People are reporting this behavior, but it appears HP isn’t doing anything about it despite the fact that it violates the HP TOS.
A wonderful hub! Rated up and across the board.
Snake: Maybe the question should be Why does Hub Pages ignore the degrading comments, bullying behavior?
Is no one reporting it you mean?
This is so true. I have noticed bullies in action on Hub pages forums, and wondered why people stick around while someone is hurling abuse at them. Thankyou for this revealing, insightful page on bullying behavior. The artwork you have used is fantastic. Regards, snakeslane