As the old proverb goes, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups”. This has been true since the dawn of time, as there’s strength in numbers and groups of bullies do often use their numbers to intimidate and disempower their victims. However, there’s another reason I’m sure most haven’t thought about…a reason much deeper than strength or power.
Social science has proved that comradeship is born when two or more people can find something (or someone)they dislike…a common enemy they can all share a passionate dislike for. And if members of the group do not feel they can get solidarity any other way, they will find and/or create an enemy who they can all unite against. Simply put, bullies often bully in groups- singling out and harassing a certain person for purposes of group cohesion…to facilitate comradarie among the other bullies in the group.
Put another way, they use their victim as a vehicle for interaction, ingratiation, bonding among the other members, ensuring group solidarity. Each member takes turns bullying the victim because they know it’s what’s expected of them by the rest of the pack, therefore committing the harassment to ‘fit in’ and getting the reward of group unity at the victim’s expense.
Today, we call this “pack mentality” or “herd mentality”. And sadly, most people will do anything, right or wrong, to follow the rest of the herd.