When did "bullying" and "shaming" start applying to everything

posted by Jeff | Sunday, May 3, 2015, 12:41 PM | comments: 0

Look, I get that kids bullying each other and being dicks isn't cool. It's particularly bad when it involves things so hurtful that kids consider suicide or that they should shoot up a school. I'll be the first to agree that it's up to parents, schools and communities to advocate and expect a culture of respect and dignity.

That said, I'm getting a little bothered by the gratuitous use of "bullying" and "shaming" as terms applied to situations that are not either one. It's getting out of control. My previous example about the entitled asshole who thought she was the victim of "social bullying" is just the tip of the iceberg. It seems to get more absurd than ever, to the point where people are using these terms as a substitution for, "I'm not getting my way."

The important part is intent. When the intent is to hurt demean someone, yeah, that's not cool. If it's something else, well, then it's something else.

Take for example the annual rash of "I got kicked out of prom for my dress" stories. This is not about "body shaming" young girls for what they're wearing. That isn't the intent. What's going on here is stupid and arbitrary policy enforcement by school people that have a stick up their ass. It has been going on for decades.

In a similar vein, people believe that doctors are trying to "shame" overweight patients. No! They're doing their jobs by telling people, "Hey, your weight isn't healthy, it's going to cause problems."  That's a far cry from belittling someone for their weight. They have no interest in "fat acceptance," as some call it, because telling you it's OK from a health perspective is the opposite of what doctors do.

And on the bullying thing, now any time someone disagrees with you on the Internet, apparently it's bullying. Some kid showed up on one of our sites looking for employment advice, and when everyone told him to back off and not be obnoxious (in mostly polite terms), he had the nuts to complain that he was being bullied. Again, not getting your way or the affirmation you seek is not bullying, it's you being entitled.

This is the reason that serious issues, like real bullying, campus rape, equality and other issues end up getting marginalized instead of receiving the attention they deserve. When you make them about things outside the realm of truly harmful intent, it's impossible to make progress on the real issues.


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