Sometimes you see something and feel compelled to share it with others. And I don’t mean the best guacamole recipe or the cutest cat picture.
This video was published a few days ago. Watch it. I think most people have been bullied, or at the very least witnessed bullying. I know bullying is being discussed more now in the media and in schools, at least in my region of the world, but clearly it’s still a problem.
Watching this video’s brand of bullying, people will have different reactions (you can see that just by looking at the first 10 comments or so). Personally, it really impacted me. Not only because I’ve been bullied (anyone remember middle school?), but because I’m the type of person who has trouble NOT stepping in when I’m a witness to something offensive. However, I wanted to point out that this video is demonstrating more than just how often people won’t intervene in situations like the ones shown.
It really speaks to the bystander effect, something that’s been empirically studied and researched for years. There are a few studies most often discussed in psychology classes, and many real-life examples of witnesses not offering any type of help in emergency situations. So whether you believe the video was a flawed experiment or not, it’s been proven to happen even in extreme cases.
I also wanted to point out that this is only one type of bullying, and I’m not sure that it’s the most common anymore. With more methods than many of us wish there were, people can reach us pretty easily. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if Facebook and other social media sites had been around when I was in middle school. I’m glad there wasn’t even texting. I saw cyber bullying start with instant messaging online, but now it’s even easier for bullying to continue after students have left school grounds.
Along with physical or face-to-face bullying and cyber bullying, there’s relational aggression. Think Mean Girls. More common with females, it’s about talking behind backs, manipulation, and getting a group to turn against one person. Might not sound as bad to some, but it can get extremely vicious.
The pre-teen and teenage years are hard enough when you have hormones raging and you don’t know who you are or what everyone’s fricken deal is, man. But then you add interaction with peers who have similar, crazy body chemistry going on, and come with different levels of maturity and parental guidance, and…just no. For example, if someone had just pointed out that, “hey, you know that feeling that EVERYONE is staring at you and cares that your hair isn’t perfect? That’s called the Spotlight Effect; it’s a thing. Everyone feels that way because, no offense, you’re in that egocentric stage of life still. It’s totes normal and not the reality,” I probably would have found comfort in that.
Some adults don’t seem to grow out of that egocentrism, but you know what I mean. It’s part of growing up (cue butterflies and sunshine and Full House “sentimental” music). Really though, in terms of bullying, that shit sucks and I don’t think it has to be a part of growing up necessarily. In the more extreme cases, it definitely should not be part of anyone’s experience. Step one is often awareness, and it has become a more public thing, with more resources available (StopBullying.gov, for example) and programs being implemented in schools.
Considering that video from earlier though…on an individual level, if you have an opportunity to not be another bystander, take it. It could mean just getting a kid in the schoolyard to back off, or it could mean keeping your distance and calling 911.