How to Avoid Caustic Online Personalities of the Bully Type

In the past few years, I have met up with a few caustic online personalities.

Some caustics will come right out and directly attack you, while others will play a more passive-aggressive game.

Do you remember your local school bully when you were a kid?

In grade school, I had a rough few months when a kid by the name of Delores Fournier chased me home almost every day threatening to beat me up.

I would run as hard as I could to get home, flop inside the mud room entrance shaking, and cringe in fear of going back to school the next day.

Picture of a BullyThen one day while I was running home with Delores hot on my heels, I felt a raging anger build up internally. Somehow, I managed to stop in my tracks, turn around, and raise my fist in front of her nose and shouted “Delores Fournier, I will break your nose if you ever chase me home again!”

She stopped in her tracks, looked at my fist, ruffled my hair, and said, “Its ok kid I was just teasing you!” Then she turned around and headed toward her house never to chase me again.

A few years back I attempted to quit smoking utilizing various online forums and newsgroups. You quickly learn that some of these groups have organized bully leagues.

Though I did have direct attacks from some, most of the bullying went on behind the scenes in instant messenger dialogues, chat pm, and emails. I also found it very interesting that this group would accuse me of being a bully and ignore the fact that they also fit the bully profile. In a situation like this, it is best to ignore or refrain from participating in an abusive forum or newsgroup.

An excellent article at Cyberbullying states, “The objectives of bullies are Power, Control, Domination, and Subjugation. They get a kick out of seeing you react. It doesn’t matter how you react, the fact they’ve successfully provoked a reaction is, to the bully, a sign that their attempt at control have been successful.

After that, it’s a question of wearing you down. The more your try to explain, negotiate, conciliate, etc the more gratification they obtain from your increasingly desperate attempts to communicate with them.

Understand that it is not possible to communicate in a mature adult manner with a disordered individual who’s emotionally retarded.” The article goes on to list the seven rules of dealing with bullies.

The Number One rule for dealing with this type of behavior is: don’t respond and don’t engage.

I found Rule five to be especially enlightening since I recently experienced this situation with a long term female bully on a quit smoking Usenet support group.

Rule five states, “become alert to provocation. It could be called “The Baiting Game”. A provocative comment is made and those who respond spontaneously in irritation are then encouraged to engage in conflict with those who respond without irritation.”

“The provoker watches, waits and stirs the pot with the occasional additional provocation. What interests me is the sense of gratification that a provoker gains from watching others indulge in destructive interaction initiated by her. In this context, gratification is a perverse form of satisfaction akin to, but distinct from, pleasure.” Remember that Knowledge is power.

Take the Wired Safety Cyberbullying Poll