Sunday, July 31, 2011

To Bully or Not to Bully:That is the Question

Out of all the articles I wanted to write for this month’s issue, this was not one of them, but the gutter mentality of school-yard bullies who use the online arena to viciously and cruelly attack those connected to Michael Jackson’s world, and this includes attacks by fans themselves, is a continuing and disturbing trend. Some exchanges I have read recently have disgusted me with the humiliating, degrading, abusive and foul verbiage. It literally made me cringe.

Perhaps some people just don’t care or realize that by engaging in this sort of behavior, not only does it diminish their worth in the eyes of others, but also the worth of their victims. This is exactly what Michael Jackson had to deal with from the media and others throughout his life. And we are angered by it aren’t we? Don’t we rebut and counteract where and whenever possible? Why then, do we think it’s acceptable to put others through the same suffering Michael had to endure?

I sense certain arrogance in some people. It leads them to believe that their opinion is the only one that counts, their voice is the only one that should be heard and their truth is the only one that should be believed. If you don’t agree with them then obviously you have it all wrong and to all intents and purposes, you don’t know what you are talking about. This just doesn’t occur within the fan community, but also in other sectors and industries and is often a key factor in the disintegration of family, matrimonial and work relationships, friendships, governmental structure, religious groups and all manner of human relations.

We have all disagreed with someone else’s opinion at some point in time. We might argue and get a little hot under the collar, but most of us don’t declare open season on that person by calling them names, ridiculing and sometimes threatening them for not agreeing with us, especially in a public arena. For those who do, the question is why?

It is a misconception that most bullies have low self-esteem. Research has shown that most people who bully have an average or even high self-esteem and they often share similar behavioral and personality characteristics. They show aggressive behavior patterns, they like to dominate others, they need to be in control and win, they feel no remorse and refuse to accept any responsibility for their behavior. It also appears that bullies believe they will get some sort of social mileage or recognition for the act and in turn become very popular. As most of the bullying I have witnessed has occurred on Twitter and Facebook, I am inclined believe there is truth in this.

The social-cyber bully uses their new found status and followers to “freeze” out or humiliate other individuals and groups who oppose their opinions, beliefs and viewpoints. Sound familiar? But, nobody truly respects a bully and although they may have followers, they have no real friends. Nobody trusts a bully.

Sadly, with this behavior occurring within the fan community, it reflects a distorted image of us as a whole; an image we are trying to maintain as one of intelligent and rational people. If we continue to allow our buttons to be pushed, if we continue to interact with these people by countering their attacks, by using retaliative measures, then we are giving them what they seek and that is attention!  We can’t afford to sink into the quicksand of their mindset and hinder the serious work we are engaged in.

I understand very well how hard it is to keep emotions in check when feeling so strongly about something dear to the heart. Emotions strain to break free; feelings rise up and rebel against the control our minds try to have over them. But, as ambassadors for Michael Jackson and “Keepers” of the truth, (and ambassadors is exactly what we are) then we have a duty to Michael himself to remain composed and not cross the line that he himself drew for us by the way he conducted himself throughout his life. Yes, Michael had his moments of justifiable anger and outbursts, but his anger was never sent forth with damaging intent. He didn’t have in him to be mean-spirited.

Bullying is an unacceptable behavior and observing or participating in it leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, including those who observe Michael Jackson fans and develop a distaste for them and him by association.

And what do we do about the bullies? Ignore them, block them and report them. Delete their comments and make none of our own toward them. If we cut off their food supply they will eventually starve from lack of popularity, look for other feeding grounds or decide to change their diet.

Further reading on bullying:


Pledge of Peace:

By Valmai Owens© 2011. All Rights Reserved.
No reproduction without permission from author.
This interview appears in the publication Dot to Dot: Keeping Michael’s Legacy Alive,
and its content is the property of the authors and the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait. Articles and exclusive interviews are copyrighted; therefore there should be no republication without permission. You may email
edito@michaeljacksontributeportrait.com with any requests for republication. If permission is given, credit must be given to the author, Dot to Dot: Keeping Michael's Legacy Alive and the Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait.

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