…because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. — Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight
If you’re a long-time reader of my work, you probably know by now that I’ve struggled with bullying, both as a victim and a perpetrator.
I think it also goes without saying that I did not get out of that BS scot-free. I always fear confrontation, regardless of whether I am in the right or the wrong. Frequently, a certain scenario plays in my head where I argue with a stupid person and I just keep on losing. The frustrating part is I’m losing not because I don’t know the facts. It’s also not because I don’t have a sound argument. I’m losing because the person who I’m arguing with is too stupid to understand what I’m saying, and just goes on and on with the same invalid points, goes on and on with their whataboutisms, to a point where I just concede because I can’t handle how stupid the exchange is. In addition, it seems like whenever I try to express a certain point, I just stutter and the stupid person in that scenario just capitalizes on that small mistake like a petulant child.
I believe I developed a certain kind of trauma because of this. Even if I want to speak up, sometimes it’s a really hard thing to do. That’s why I’ve been writing all of my thoughts in blogs since college. I can say that writing about my thoughts helped in processing the things in my head. It’s also good to know that I have good friends who will never leave me, a family that I can count on, and the knowledge that whatever happens, things will get better in the end. But even with all this, and even after going through therapy several times, it never fixed my fear of being bullied again and my brain just chooses not to engage whenever a need to speak up arises, because nails that stick out are always hit by a hammer.
The feeling of powerlessness and helplessness makes me hate myself little by little every day. I try not to think about it that much, and every day, I make a deliberate choice to focus on important things and claw my way out of depression and self-loathing. But certain people just got a lot of time on their hands and they’d rather use that time to hurt other people and waste their time just for kicks. Being a person living in the Philippines, such people are a dime a dozen, and they will make sure you know that they’re in your midst. The next thing I know, I’m back to where I started, hating myself for not being able to do the right thing.
With that, let’s talk about that one thing that happened to me and my wife.
I was helping the wife with our preparations for the Aurora Festival at the time. I relegated myself to promoting the products that we’re selling. So I had the idea of boosting a post so that everyone within a certain radius, most probably the ones planning to go to the festival, would hopefully see the post and visit us. As I was setting up the ad, I already can sense the possibility that idiots would try to ruin our day and waste our time when they see the post. Long story short, I did not have to wait long.
First of all, the reply is just so stupid you’d just cringe and it doesn’t even make any sense. Secondly, my wife and I are minding our business. I don’t even know this guy and I’m not even insulted at whatever word combinations his limited brainpower can muster. I’m insulted because he’s wasting our time. Instead of us either taking a quick break or responding to legitimate questions, I had to instead contemplate on what’s the best way of addressing cretins like him. And yes, this triggered my trauma of dealing with stupid people and the fear of speaking out. I understand that it’s pretty harmless. But that’s the thing about traumas. No matter how small or big triggers are, triggers are triggers, and when they happen, people tend to lose the ability to think rationally.
My wife was unaffected. But it ate away my capability to think logically. I almost gave the idiot what he wants by responding. But I stopped myself at the last minute and just banned him instead.
Of course, we’re not the only ones that have to deal with people like this guy. Some people have it worse.
The wife was perusing some content online one time when she encountered a post by Fhrytzy Ghyl Degala Ramirez (TRIGGER WARNING: Lots of body shaming comments in the original post. You’ve been warned) regarding an unsolicited opinion about her appearance, specifically her figure. It still triggers me after 2 weeks of seeing the post I don’t even know how to start. I’ll just post some screenshots below.
A lot of people have no idea how much of a big deal such comments are to some people. It doesn’t matter if you’re not personally affected by it. The point here is, people are different. What might not be a big deal for you might be something big for someone else. We live different lives and whatever similarities we have with each other, we have as many differences, if not more.
If you think such comments are helping people like her, allow me to state the obvious to your face and say you’re not helping at all. You’re just making the situation worse. People like us (yes, my wife and I are overweight too) know what’s wrong and trust me when I say we’re doing our best to improve our bodies. There is a reason why they’re called unsolicited opinions: we don’t need it and we didn’t ask you to give it to us. If you want to help, the adage “If you can’t say anything nice, say nothing” applies here. If you’re doing this because you’re miserable and you got nothing else to do, I pity you and perhaps you should look for better things to do.
Speaking of the miserable people with nothing better to do, particularly the trolls and wannabe trolls who just want to hurt people, I’d like to discuss that idea that took me so long to understand.
I’ve been bullied since I was a kid. I was overweight since I can remember, and kids of my generation bully large children like me. I know they want to hurt me, they want to make me sad, and they want me to regret that I got a better life than them. I either end up in fist fights or a bunch of malnourished kids chants, in unison, whatever insult they can think of at that point. I could end up going home wounded, crying, or both. Whenever I talk to adults about my experience, they keep on saying these things:
“Kapag tinutukso ka nila, tawanan mo lang.” (Whenever they try to provoke you, just laugh at them.)
“Huwag mo silang pag-aksayahan ng panahon.” (Don’t waste your time on them.)
“Hindi naman totoo ang sinasabi nila. Bakit ka magagalit?” (Why are you mad? They’re not telling the truth.)
…and other things along these lines.
I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but it was only recently that these statements made perfect sense to me.
I was prideful as a child. I don’t want anyone to disrespect me, and I do my best not to disrespect anyone as long as they don’t disrespect me. What I didn’t understand then was that certain people just want to hurt other people. They made it their mission to hurt others so that they can feel better about themselves.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a child or an adult. Humans tend to find an outlet to channel their pain to something or someone. Certain people break things when they’re angry. Some people find pleasure in hurting animals (such people are despicable especially when they do it unprovoked). Then some people just want to hurt other people. Below is a quick example of what I’m talking about.
There were certain studies done about the connection between bullying and domestic abuse (like this, this, and this), and unfortunately, a lot of people exposed to domestic abuse are likely to become bullies. These people will then find a way to channel the anger and resentment that they have. Some of them choose to channel it to something productive, such as art. But a lot of them will likely channel it to their peers. These peers will then either develop traumas that they will never completely grow out of, or they will also become bullies themselves. Before you know it, it becomes an endless cycle of abuse, leaving a lot of people in pain.
I was thinking about this when it hit me. This is the reason why people such as the time-wasting guy and the body-shaming guy exist. A lot of people are in pain, and as the old proverb says, “Hurt people hurt people.”
The pain might come from domestic abuse, from a bullying incident in the past, or whatever. It doesn’t matter where the pain is coming from. These people are hurting, and they want other people to hurt the same way they do.
A lot of these people you cannot reason with. They don’t care. They just want to feel a sense of fulfillment that they hurt somebody. They just want to feel that they’re not the only ones suffering. They just want to see people affected by whatever nonsense they spew, and as long as you notice them, talk about them, or argue with them, they will get that sense of accomplishment. That’s all they want to do: to inflict pain by whatever means necessary, and a response is their reward.
It saddens me that modern society went down this hole. We could’ve done more. But here we are, talking about these imbeciles.
In case you want to know, after realizing this, I made a deliberate choice not to talk to or deal with such people. This time, I don’t even have the urge to fight back or speak out. Why argue with someone who already believes they’re right? It’s nothing but a waste of time and energy. I got a lot of things to do and I got a lot of things to think about. I don’t have time for nonsense.
So the next time I encounter such stupidity, I won’t think about it and just ban them and/or remove them from my life. I may not be smart. But I’m smart enough to know that all they want is attention and attention is something they won’t get from me.
In case you’re more empathetic than I am, you can try killing them with kindness. Aaron Stark in his TED Talk mentioned that we have to give love to those we think deserve it the least. In a way, I agree with him. But I only have a limited supply of empathy. So I can only offer it to people important to me.
To everyone who is surrounded by people who know nothing but to hurt others, please keep in mind that my thoughts are always with you. Always remember that no matter how long or how hard, life always gets better. Don’t let these bitter people quench your desire to live. Let’s live our lives and be whatever we want to be.
Go for it! I believe in you!
Bien is a software engineer for more than 10 years, focusing on Microsoft .NET technology. He developed solutions ranging from embedded systems to accounting systems. He spends his free time trying to understand the world and its people.