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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bullying in Second Life Part 2- Nomad Aries Reporting…

This is the second part of my article on bullying. In part one I discussed the types of bullying you may encounter on Second Life as well as real life. 
There are many misconceptions about why some people turn into bullies. It is often said these are people with low self esteem and are loners. In studies done on bullying and bullies , this does not prove to be true. So what makes a bully a bully? 

Who is a Bully?

Bullies do not suffer from low self esteem as popularly believed. In a 2001 study (Baumeister) , it was discovered that bullies have extremely high self esteem. Although their esteem is high , it is pathologically high and unstable. If a bully feels slighted or insulted, the ego causes extreme negative feelings which the bully cannot tolerate. According to a later study from the University of South Dakota,( 2012 ), bullies lack function in an area of the brain that deals with moderating mood and emotions. For some reason yet to be discovered, bullies have low to no function of this area of the brain, it is thought that not being properly socialized at an early age prevents this part of the brain from functioning. This causes the bully to lash out at people in defense to preserve their feeling of superiority and control . Bullies have thought processes that differ from most people. 

Studies of adult bullying has found that bullies tend to have certain personality traits in common including; authoritarianism and a need to control and dominate. 
There is also evidence of narcissistic personality disorders consisting of a perception of oneself as an elite being and having no empathy towards others. 

Other characteristics of personality disorders found in bullies includes; superficial charm, manipulation tendencies, emotional rigidity, stubbornness and obsessive compulsive leanings. 
Dangerous bullies have much in common with psychopaths in that they feel no remorse for their actions. Some of these traits may have a genetic component however one thing all bullies have in common are disturbed childhoods where emotional needs were not met adequately, they were not properly socialized and their early bullying went unchecked. 

Bullies view their interpersonal world rather negatively and they often misinterpret other people's behavior. The verbally abusive bullies have a short fuse; they become aggressive and angry much quicker than most people and are the most emotionally unstable. These are the bullies usually sent to anger management classes by employers or by the courts. 

In the first part of my article on bullying I said that no bully can succeed without the help and consent of the "target". This is true. Often targets go into defense mode when they encounter a bully. If the target acts in a "defeated" or "frightened" way towards the attempt to bully them, this encourages the bully's behavior. It starts the cycle and the cycle will repeat over and over. Bullies do not just go away. If the target retaliates with insults or sarcasm, this also fuels the bully as the target behaved exactly how the bully planned. 

The good news is that the cycle can be broken.
Targets of bullying have to stop telling themselves they are victims. They are not. They are simply people unlucky enough to run into someone with a lot of emotional problems. The best way to stop a bully of any kind, is to have enough respect for yourself to show the bully, they do not and cannot control you and their attempts to dominate you will not work Getting the courage to oppose a bully may be daunting, however you need to stand up to and not tolerate bullying . A bully will not waste time bothering you if they cannot control you. A bully will not bother you if they will be seen as losing power because you will not give in to them. It is the quickest and most effective way to end a bullying attempt. 

How to Deal With A Bullying Encounter
When you have been the target of a bully often your first reaction is shock. You need to stay calm, not be drawn in and do not let the bully "push your buttons". Realize that it is the bully’s’ anger or jealousy that makes them need to control the people around them. Refuse to be controlled. Do not enter into a argument or snap back some comment about them. You must force yourself in all cases of bullying to act as if you are disinterested, bored and you don't care. Refuse to take on the target role. Bullies will often start out disguising their actions as jokes. You can say “oh were trying to be funny there?" “I am confused". That is not the expected reaction and it throws the bully off. If the bully repeatedly makes personal comments about you, it is fine to respond with " You seem to spend a lot of time focusing on my actions or on me". It is not a phrase that will inflame the bully, instead it takes the issue off of you and forces it back on the bully. Instead of defending yourself or your actions, it puts the attention on theirs. Another response could be, “well let's get away from all this emotional stuff, what is the real issue here?" Keep calm, and step away from the personal jab. They want to push your buttons because they cannot control their own. You can control yours and you can prevent them from being pushed by anyone else. If a bully cannot get you to go into defensive mode , they become frustrated and they cannot deal with it . They will leave you alone and find an easier target, you are too much work. 

As I said before in article one, dealing with the verbal and emotional bully is the easiest.
 Simply do not do what the bully does. Do not let them take up your time in vicious IMs, if they persist , block them, mute them and de-render them if necessary. Nothing bothers a bully more than not being seen and heard and you not reacting to them. Sometimes this will force verbal abusive bullies to have a tantrum. Get away from a potentially explosive bully. They vent and sometimes it takes days for the episode to be exhausted. Take yourself away from the bully before they explode. 

If someone wants to tell you what has been said about you by the bully, tell them you don't care. Then, don't care. The more you don't respond, the better it is. There are no conversations that can be reported back to the bully. You do not have to defend yourself against gossip or slander. People will believe what they want but those that know you, know better. 

It is against the User Terms of Second Life to copy and paste someone else's conversations and pass them around without the specific consent of the people involved in the conversation. On Facebook and Twitter and Skype it is against their User Terms to harass people , verbally attack people, threaten people with violence or use their personal information. Should this happen, do not say anything to the bully and report it to the program you are using sending any valid evidence you may have . They do something about it when you fill out a report that is accurate and concise. Stay calm. 

Cyber bullying is one of the bully activities which is closely monitored on nearly all virtual programs. 
They do not take it lightly and they can trace it. Not only is cyber bullying not permitted on any virtual program, it is actually illegal in many countries. The offender can be reported by the program to the authorities and charged. Make sure all your settings for these programs are set to privacy or you have some form of security in place. Do not be urged or coerced into doing anything you don't want to , by anyone. 

All viewers for Second Life are equipped with report abuse functions usually located under the Help heading at the top of your screen.
When the report pops up, it takes an automatic photo, so if you are calm during a physical attack, pull up the report, it will take a picture of the avatar bothering you and just fill in the information as required. Send the report. You may be contacted by an administrator who will ask you further questions regarding the incident. Do not recap what you said in the report but answer the questions asked by the administrator. They may have sent a warning to the bully and wish to know if you have received further threats. Often the bully is told not to contact you or anyone involved. Keep notes on what has occurred between you and the bully , take pictures if you can of specific actions and don't forget to date the note card. 
Physical bullying is usually under griefing. Many sims on SL say no pushing , bumping for shoving others. If you are in a club or venue contact the management immediately if you are bothered by a bully , especially if you have asked the person to stop bumping you. Managers and owners can eject the bully and ban them from the sim . Do not let it go. Do something. If you are a manager at a venue and see something that looks like an attack on someone, IM the person and ask them if they are all right or if they need help. Bullies operate very slyly. They hope no one notices. If you do, say something. 

Get a movelock device.
 It glues you to the floor, if you are hit, you stay in position. You cannot be thrown across a sim or club. If you don't move, the bully gets bored and leaves. Say nothing to them after the first hit and you have cautioned them. They look stupid bumping you repeatedly and they leave. 

If any bully bothers you make your closest , trusted friend aware of what is happening and how you feel.
Tell someone but not the bully. In all your dealings with the bully be logical, concise and composed; do not respond emotionally to these people. If someone says something personal like “you are embarrassing or your butt is big" respond with a calm, non committal "hmmmm" or " how nice" or " I understand". Do not say too much and do not let on it bothered you . They have no response to use against you and keep the incident going so it will shut down. A bully can use what you give them, against you. Give them nothing to work with. Unarm them. 

You are not victim, do not act like one.
 Don't let a bully upset you , spoil your day, interfere with your job or relationship or prevent you from doing what you intend to do. Everyone should be treated with dignity. By ignoring a bully, refusing to put the spotlight on them, or engage them , you give them nothing . When a bully was constantly harassing someone in a venue I was at, the person didn't react at all, completely ignored the bully and then other people started saying to the bully , "Why are you picking on that person, what is wrong with you ?", or "Leave them alone they aren't interested in you". This immediately stopped the bully who quickly tped out of the club the minute people started responding negatively to the bully. 

October is Anti-Bullying month.
 It is sad we need to have a month to make people aware of bullying but if it helps stop bullying, it is worth it . Stand up, say something if you witness someone being bullied. The more we notice, the more we put the onus on bullies to seek help for themselves and the better everyone will be. Second Life is for everyone to enjoy. 


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