I got this question on my “About the author” page. I have to admit that a screen name of “Mrs. Are You Kidding-Me” puts me on high bullshit alert, but I’ll answer her question as if I’m taking it at face value.
“My question to you ( a serious one ) – As an educator how do you deal with bullying in your school district? From reading your blog your children are still very young correct? If your children are bullied by anyone how do you think you as a mother will handle that?
Do you think bullying transcends to blogs? Do you think you bully others in your blog? Or really is it all in fun for you?
I don’t deal with bullying district-wide, but I can talk a bit about what I see from the classroom I barely leave except to pee.
The kids have been hearing about “bullying” for so long, it’s become a punchline for them. Just as students will recite “Sharing is caring” in mockery of their sensitivity training, so will they also complain, “Mrs. Odie, Rachel is BULLYING me!” every time they feel annoyed by a classmate.
Even though I am anonymous, that shit is flimsy and I never want it said that I revealed confidential information about my students here. That disappoints me way more than you, because I’d love an outlet to vent. Students can and do go on-line and say the most hateful, slanderous things about their teachers. Most of the bullying I see in my school or hear about from my peers is students and parents bullying teachers. For example, a group of students told a substitute teacher if he wrote down their names for the teacher, they’d make up some stuff that would get him fired.
I had to intervene in several bullying incidents last year. Any time a student is awkward, tiresome, or different in a way the power pack deems unacceptable, that person is treated poorly. I go out of my way to praise kind, thoughtful behavior when I see it.
A girl came into my room at lunch crying her eyes out over a fight she’d had with her friend. Some of the “cool” kids stopped by too, saw her crying and gave her self-conscious hugs and empty words of comfort. Still, it was the right thing to do and I made a big deal of it to them privately later. It inspired me to see compassion. I was also happy to observe a few days later that the friends had made up and all was well again.
To some extent, it is human nature to exclude and isolate anyone we see as “different.” I see toddlers do it at preschool. It’s why we parents constantly check in with each other and Dr. Google to make sure our offspring are normal. The pain of being scorned by peers is nothing when compared to the agony of seeing it happen to your kid.
You asked me about whether I think that bullying “transcends to blogs.” What an odd phrasing. To transcend is to “rise above,” so how is a blog above my classroom when it comes to bullying? Physically? Spiritually? Morally? I’ll chalk it up to a case of that’s not the word you meant to use. Your follow up question, “Do you think you bully others in your blog?” is easy to answer. No.
Can blogs be used to bully? I don’t know. Maybe really powerful people could use their public forums to bully weaker people. The word “bully” is hackneyed. A bully is a person who has power over another and forces or coerces the weaker person. Power is the key to being a bully. I’m not forcing anyone to do anything, not even read what I write. Where’s my power? If my blog bullies people, then so does every gossip magazine, gossip blog, and unfavorable book review. If my blog had power to make people do stuff, I’d blog about my daughters eating vegetables.
Do I think my blog has the power to annoy, irritate, and confound? Absolutely! I’ve written a series of posts about a couple of bloggers I enjoy satirizing, but it’s a tiny percentage of what I do here. Each of them is far bigger and more powerful than I, so by definition I am unable to bully them.
I have nearly 300 posts on my blog and not even 20% of them are gossipy posts. Those handful just tend to get the most attention because humans adore gossip. I go to GOMI and join in the gossip quite regularly. I don’t comment on what I don’t agree with nor engage writers who disagree with me. I’m low drama. Some people love to pick fights. Not I.
I like to add my voice at Celebitchy and D-Listed too. I never go to other bloggers sites and abuse them in any way. Disagree? Sometimes. Argue with other commenters? Certainly. Ask leading questions? Occasionally. Defend myself? When I feel like it.
I love a good comeback. GOMI lends itself to that well, and I’m in good company there. Some of those women are hilarious. Others are horribly mean. On my blog, I don’t publish comments that make fun of a person’s face or body (style is fair game as are parenting choices). Homophobia or transphobia is not welcome here.
Thank you for these thought provoking inquiries. I am totally not kidding you.