Bullies, Rumors, Gossip, and Smears

Gossip is purely judgmental and includes hasty generalizations about the target’s character and private life, which has nothing to do with the school, community, or workplace. The purpose of gossip is to control the target’s status by demoting the target on the social hierarchy.

Another purpose of gossip is to justify any punishment of the target by promoting a collective view that the victim doesn’t deserve respect, dignity, or humanity, but only abuse and hostility.

 And once a target is viewed to deserve abuse, others will always escalate it!

Gossip has another benefit. It tightens group connections, gives higher status to the people who are privy to the negative information, and sets expectations and norms in the group as to how they should treat the target.

Through gossip, the group establishes, maintains, or changes social infrastructures. Gossip promotes unity and shared negative perceptions of the target. With the use of it, the group will foster justification for hostility. Therefore, no one in the group considers their actions as bullying. They will only say that the target “deserves it” and say they were reacting to “an evil enemy.”

People tell others to keep it secret, but they also ask them to inform the group of any new information and updates that concern their target.

Realize that it serves to provide bullies reaffirmations that their perceptions of the target are correct, that the target deserves abuse.

Gossipers will often cover their bad behavior with a slight confession of guilt by beginning their sentences with things like,

“I know I shouldn’t say this, but…”

“Poor thing…”

“Bless her heart…”

 They will acknowledge that the target is a human being, but only because this gives them the green light to go on talking and helps them to feel less like the creeps they are.

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It’s true that reputation doesn’t equal character. But it can effect life. Understand that the rumors may, in fact, be false and there may be zero credible evidence to back them up. But if pure speculation best fits the bullies’ goals, that’s what they will go along with.

In the late stages of gossip, all bystanders will become willing co-conspirators. Gossip brings scandal, which means to assassinate the target’s character, integrity, mental fitness, and worth as a student, worker, neighbor, or human being.

Anyone who questions or disbelieves the lies will immediately become an object of bullying as well. Nobody wants to be isolated, so this forces others to stay in line with the running narrative.

And if the target attempts to defend himself or speak out against the abuse, it will be used against him.

Unfortunately, at this stage, the only way for the target to ensure his safety and escape the abuse is to leave the toxic environment and go to a new place where he can start anew, establish new connections, and reinvent himself.

Remember the character, Chris Chambers, in the movie “Stand by Me.” Although he was a great kid, he was considered a rogue and a thief. Remember the scene where he was crying to his friend, Gordy, telling him about how he got his bad name and wishing he could go somewhere where no one knew him.

During the conversation, the character of Chris Chambers, played by River Phoenix, tearfully tells Gordy that a member of staff took the lunch money out of the teal but he got blamed for it solely because of his family name. It was heartbreaking to watch.

And sadly, that happens a lot. In a majority of cases, targets must leave the school, company, or community to heal and to rebuild their lives.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Here’s How Demonization Works

I want you to realize that everything you say, good or bad, can be used against you in the court of public opinion if you are a target of bullying. So, please, don’t be confused or surprised when this happens as it will only further cloud your thinking and cause you not to defend yourself properly.

If you are a target of bullying, EXPECT the following:

1. Any joke you tell, no matter how funny it may be, will be considered unfunny.

2. Any self-deprecating humor will be seen as your having no self-confidence or being mentally unstable.

3. Any sarcasm will be taken literally.

4. Any casual comments such as, “I would love to have been able to sleep in this morning,” will be taken as your admitting you planned to be absent from school or work today and are complaining about having to come in. They will accuse you of either being a lazy bum or so depressed that you found it difficult to get out of bed.

5. Any positive statements or compliments will be seen as kissing up or an attempt to score points with the recipient.

6. Any self-confidence and good self-esteem will be perceived as being pompous, arrogant, and full of yourself.

7. Refusing to talk to your bullies and their minions or to answer any gotcha questions, though justified, will be deemed as your being “too good to speak” or having something to hide.

8. If you smile, they’ll think you’re plotting something.

9. If you’re happy, you must’ve done something evil.

In short, when you are a target of bullying, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to prepare for the attacks and to either properly counter them or to make your escape to a better environment.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

In Depth: The Opinions of Bullies and How They Can Affect Our Lives

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Recently, I wrote a blog post entitled, “Should the Opinions of Bullies Matter?” In it, I stated the reasons why they shouldn’t and that the only opinions that should were those of the people who love us and want the best for us.

And it’s true. Bullies’ opinions shouldn’t concern us and for some targets, they don’t. but the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that maybe I should’ve added more to the post.

So, here goes!

Though bullies’ thoughts and feelings of you shouldn’t matter, it doesn’t mean they can’t affect us, or even hinder us.

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The reality is that the bullies’ opinions of their target can have a huge impact on the target’s life. Their thoughts and feelings of the target can determine whether other people outside the bully/target conflict feel comfortable associating with the target.

Although we don’t want to admit it and, no, it isn’t fair, the personal opinions of other people often are the deciding factor or whether we’re well-liked or lonely and hated.

Bullies influence the attitudes of others who otherwise either wouldn’t have an issue with us or would be great friends under different circumstances. The opinions of bullies have a way of spreading far and wide- making bullies out of those who, under normal circumstances, would never resort to mistreating another human being.

It’s amazing what a contagion effect bullying has on schools, companies, organizations, and communities.

We must learn about bullying from all angles. Because the more we know, the better we will be able to salvage our good names and counter some of the effects it may have on our lives.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

Here’s Why Bullies Attack Your Reputation

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“Reputation is the cornerstone of power.” – Robert Greene

Simply put, bullies attack your reputation to strip you of power. Once your reputation is gone, you’re defenseless and extremely vulnerable to attack. Bullies can freely attack you from all directions. Even worse, you’re at the mercy of virtually everyone around you.

Bullies know that if they can poke holes in your reputation, they won’t have to work so hard to bring you down because now, they have public opinion on their side. They can then stand back and watch with glee as widely held perceptions of you finish you off.

To start, bullies will plant seeds of doubt about your character in the minds of others. Doubt is a powerful tool.

Next, they spread rumors and lies.

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Bullies are proof that offense is the best defense. Drawing first blood is always best because the target can only respond in either one of two ways.

1. He could deny the rumors, even produce evidence that proves his innocence of the accusations. Or,

2. He could ignore the lies and blow his accusers off with a “whatever” and walk away laughing.

But!

Either way, people will still look at the target with suspicion.

1. If the target defends himself and produces evidence to the contrary, the prevailing thought will be,

“There must be some truth to the rumors, otherwise he wouldn’t be defending himself so vehemently.”

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2. If he ignores the lies and waves his accusers away with a laugh, others will be even more suspicious of him because they’ll think that he has something to hide and is only playing it cool.

Bullies know that if they instigate rumors the right way, there’s a possibility that they can get the target so enraged and rattled that while defending himself, he ends up making a truckload of mistakes.

And if the target hasn’t yet established a reputation, the smear campaign will only work all the more in the bullies’ favor.

And the sad fact is this:

Two different people can do the exact same thing the exact same way. And each person’s reputation will decide whether the action is brilliant or terrible.
Put simpler. It’s not what you do. It’s who you are when you do it. It’s not the action itself, but who the person is that does it.

A person who’s well-liked and has a stellar reputation can write an essay, and others will deem it a brilliant piece.

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But let a person who’s despised by everyone and has a lousy reputation write the exact same essay, and others will only view it as a worthless piece of garbage that’s not even worth reading, which brings me to the final conclusion:

Reputation can affect all areas of your life. It can be the difference between having success or failure- in everything!

But there’s hope.

Although extremely difficult, you can still salvage your reputation and change your life for the better. Here’s how.

1. Move to a different area. Sometimes you must go somewhere else and start over again. It may be difficult to leave your family behind, but if you stay in the town where people judge you unfavorably, you’ll never have the chance to move forward and will always be stuck right where you are. Why not pack your things and leave for greener pastures.

2. Find a good cause to fight for and that you’re passionate about. Any time you fight for a good cause, you will meet like-minded people who are fighting for the same purpose.

The cause could be “The Me Too Movement,” “The Victim’s Rights Movement,” or even “The Anti-Bullying Movement.” Whatever the cause, you will attract those who are fighting for the same things. And you’ll easily make positive connections with them and become life-long friends.

Although many doors get slammed shut and locked, there’s always a way out if you look for it. I guarantee it!

All About Bullying and School Politics

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When there’s a culture of bullying at school, everything is all about appearances. And it isn’t about what’s being done; it’s about who’s doing it.

Sadly, people often hold victims of bullying to a double-standard. If someone makes a statement, it’s never about the comment itself, but who it came from. Unfortunately, politics, whether it be on a national, local, school, or office level, is rife with double-standards.

Here are a few scenarios for examples:

1. The student body and people in the community find out that a particular girl is in a monogamous romantic relationship and that she and her boyfriend are not only dating; they have sex every weekend.

If she’s a target of bullying, she’s a “whore” or “slut.” And her boyfriend must be with her for the sole purpose of getting in her pants. It’s only a matter of time until he gets tired of her and dumps her for something better. And everyone uses her lack of celibacy as a means to persecute her.

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On the other hand, what if she’s not a target of bullying (And she doesn’t have to be one of the popular crowd, she can be just an average Jane who blends in)?

As long as she’s any girl who doesn’t get bullied- she and her boyfriend are only in love, and they’re only experimenting and exploring the sexual terrain, which is only a normal part of being a young couple in love. And everyone either cuts her some slack and either doesn’t say anything, or  congratulates her for reaching the milestone of finding love and losing her virginity.

Here are a few more examples:

2. A boy in the school is going out and getting drunk or high on the weekends.

If he’s a target of bullying, he’s a worthless drunk or druggie.

If he’s any boy who isn’t a target of bullying, however, he’s “cool,” he’s a hellraiser! He’s only doing what most teenage boys will try at some point during their adolescent years. And others dismiss it as his being one of the crazy kids from high school.

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3. It’s discovered that a girl at school is pregnant.

If she’s a bullied girl, she’s a cheap little slut, and it’s no surprise she’s “knocked up.” People shun her like Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter.” Everyone judges her harshly and has the attitudes that she and her baby will only live on welfare and leach from society while the non-bullied kids will move on to successful careers.

And that they will be stuck paying taxes, which will support this sorry excuse for a human being and her little spawn.

But if she’s any girl who isn’t a target of bullying, then she’s just a good girl who made a bad mistake. And everyone reaches out to her and extends compassion.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Realize that school, office, any kind of politics and double-standards are firmly put in place to keep a select few down and oppressed.

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In a nutshell, if you aren’t a target of bullying, there’s margin for error and you’re allowed to explore many worlds. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You’re allowed to be a human being.

But if you’re a target of bullying, you’re not afforded any of it. You’re not allowed to be yourself. You’re not allowed to be human because in the minds of others, you aren’t human at all. In the minds of the student body, you aren’t even allowed to be- to exist.

But no matter how they judge you, do it anyway.

1. Allow yourself to make mistakes because that’s how you learn.

2. Be yourself because that’s how you weed out the people who aren’t supposed to be in your life and attract into your world the people who belong there.

3. Be human because being human is what exposes the people who are wrong for you and shows you the people who are right for you.

4. And don’t only exist, but live! Be alive! Live life to the fullest!

5. And know that happiness is a choice! And that you do have the power to choose.

When the Target is Made Out to Be the Bad Guy

When the target has had enough of being bullied and abused, and he/she snaps and overreacts, bystanders and authority are often under the delusion that the target’s reaction takes away from the fact that people have mistreated and abused them for such a long time- that it somehow detracts from the truth that it was the bullies who drove them to overreact.

As a result, many targets stop defending themselves because of this very thing. It seems that every time they stand up for themselves, even if they did it in a calm manner, they were punished for it.

Therefore, targets feel they have no other choice than to stay silent. They are forced to resign themselves, stay quiet, and do what the bullies want, which is to allow them to continue to bully and abuse.

The fear of being made the villain, no matter what they do, supersedes their natural desire to self-defend. In their silence, targets hope that other people will see by their passivity that they really are, in fact, the victim. But, in most cases, this doesn’t work either.

The target is damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

But understand that bullies use this as a weapon. If they can make you look like the instigator when you defend yourself, they then become brazen and have carte balance to bully you more frequently, more severely, and more openly.

People will believe what they want to believe about you and if they want to think that you’re crazy, arrogant, whatever, there’s not much you can do but to not associate with them.

However, you must, no matter how they shout you down and no matter how they blame and punish you, tell your side of the story. You must speak out about the abuse even if no one wants to listen to it.

Just the having your say alone can give you such a relief. The fact that you got it off your chest and out in the open keeps you from internalizing everything and your self-esteem from being destroyed. This is all a part of self-care.

And when you’re against these types of odds, self-care is the most important. Realize that, although the bullies may never change their behavior toward you, they can never stop you from taking care of yourself. In these situations, all you have is you. So, practice self-care. Show yourself compassion and do what you must do to preserve your safety and mental health. Be your own best friend. Fight for yourself.

You’re worth fighting for. Don’t you think? I do.

How Demonization Works

I want you to realize that everything you say, good or bad, can be used against you in the court of public opinion if you are a target of bullying. So, please, don’t be confused or surprised when this happens as it will only further cloud your thinking and cause you not to defend yourself properly.

If you are a target of bullying, EXPECT the following:

  1. Any joke you fell, no matter how funny it may be, will be considered unfunny.
  2. Any self-deprecating humor will be seen as your having no self-confidence or being mentally unstable.
  3. Any sarcasm will be taken literally.
  4. Any casual comments such as, “I would love to have been able to sleep in this morning,” will be taken as your admitting you planned to be absent from school or work today and are complaining about having to come in. They will accuse you of either being a lazy bum or so depressed that you found it difficult to get out of bed.

  1. Any positive statements or compliments will be seen as kissing up or an attempt to score points with the recipient.
  2. Any self-confidence and good self-esteem will be perceived as being pompous, arrogant, and full of yourself.
  3. Refusing to talk to your bullies and their minions or to answer any gotcha questions, though justified, will be deemed as your being “too good to speak” or having something to hide.
  4. If you smile, they’ll think you’re plotting something.
  5. If you’re happy, you must’ve done something evil.

In short, when you are a target of bullying, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

The sooner you realize this, the sooner you’ll be able to prepare to make your escape and move on to a better and more positive environment.

When Bullying Becomes Mobbing: Detailed Steps Bullies Take to Destroy You and The Stages of Bullying That Go with Them

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Mobbing is THE severest form of bullying. Once the bullying reaches the stage of mobbing, this is when the bullying becomes life-threatening! And if you’ve ever been a target of it, you know firsthand how destructive it is.

The reasons that mobbing is so hard to remedy is because not only has it already rendered us so distraught that we’re unable to think clearly, but we aren’t able to name, describe, nor communicate the steps bullies take to destroy us.

A successful smear campaign is started by a bully or bullies who are well-practiced in the arts of persuasion and influence and can last for years.

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Here’s something I want you to realize. A smear campaign is nowhere near as tricky as it looks. You’d be amazed at just how simple it is to smear someone. It’s so easy that it shouldn’t be so effective, but it is!

To quote the old Geico commercial, it’s “so easy; a caveman can do it.”

Here’s a chronological, step-by-step recap of how bullies do it and succeed at it:

1. The bullies have a dislike for a specific individual who refuses to conform to their standard of who she should be.

Now all this time, the bullies have been able to influence everyone else and get them to submit to their will and every whim. Then, low and behold, along comes the target (we’ll call her “Cindy”) who’s stubborn and either unable to or won’t submit to the bullies’ control and allow them to change her personality into what they think it should be.

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And Cindy may not realize the bullies’ motives and that just by doing her thing, she’s enraging the bullies. So, she goes on about her business, makes plans for her future, makes achievement after achievement, and maybe she gets loads of positive attention and praise from others because she’s so successful and well-liked.

2. Next, the bullies begin to smear Cindy. To implement their smear campaign, they watch Cindy, studying her behavior carefully until they’re able to anticipate her reactions.

3. The bullies then train their audience (i.e., the other classmates or coworkers to expect a specific type of behavior out of Cindy. They point out these behaviors when they occur. The bullies then associate Cindy’s completely innocent behavior with something bad or evil.

For example, let’s say that Cindy is sweet, playful, and likes to engage in a little banter. The bullies watch as Cindy banters with people in the school or workplace. She playfully calls someone a “dummy” or a “goofball,” but others know that it’s all for harmless jokes and think it’s funny because Cindy is a genuinely kind person.

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4. So, the bullies begin making offhand comments. They remark that Cindy’s kindness is only an attempt to kiss ass because she wants something from people and that she thinks the people around her really are dummies, but only disguises it under a veil of fun jokes and playfulness.

The bullies also make statements that Cindy thinks she’s cute and that Cindy thinks she’s smarter than everyone else. Then repeat, repeat, repeat!

To quote a propaganda minister to a well-known dictator in history, “Tell a lie once, and it remains a lie. Tell a lie a thousand times, and it becomes the truth.”

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5. The next time others see Cindy being kind to and playfully bantering with someone, she doesn’t look so cute, and the banter isn’t so funny anymore. Now people see a side of Cindy they can’t believe they never noticed before.

6. Now feeling smug with gratification, the bullies look at themselves, then at Cindy with smirks on their crooked faces and try the same thing all over again.

7. And before you know it, everyone wonders what they ever saw in Cindy, to begin with, and begins to have negative feelings toward the poor girl.

8. Cindy begins to pick up on the negative vibes around her and withdraws a little. She doesn’t speak to people as much as she did and doesn’t understand what she did or said to bring it all about. The bullies notice that Cindy is more distant than usual, and they point this out to everyone.

“Hey, look! Do you see that? Now, what did we tell you? Cindy really does think we’re all dummies! She really does think she’s smarter than the rest of us!”

“And her ass-kissing (Cindy’s sweet disposition) didn’t work, so now she’s too good to speak to anyone!”

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9. Cindy’s withdrawal only inflames everyone’s feelings of dislike and resentment. Although her becoming distant is only out of self-protection, others mistake it for smugness and arrogance.

10. And it only snowballs from there, getting worse and worse over time. Understand that people are human, and they make mistakes. They misjudge innocent others all the time.

And when bullies condition the whole of a group, school, organization, workplace, or community to see any quality in a particular person as a bad thing, a smear campaign is most effective. So everyone, even those who aren’t bullies and are otherwise kind and compassionate, can become extremely cold and cruel to a target. And everyone repeats the same cruelty, over and over again.

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Understand that smear campaigns are just too effective because they can quickly become bullying, then escalate to mobbing, which is the most severe kind of bullying. And once it increases to mobbing, it’s unstoppable, and the only way you can take your life back is to leave that toxic, poisonous environment altogether.