I saw a post on Tumblr about bullying (and Harry Potter, to be specific) and what bullying teaches people about the world, that called on the usual narrative of the deliberately cruel bully who enjoys other people’s pain. And I had some thoughts. So here are some bits of what would my personal How Bullying Works / Why Bullying Happens / On Bullying / etc. that differ from that.
1. Never underestimate the importance of boredom and habit
People do things and stop doing things as much out of boredom as anything else. People hurt you just because you happened to catch their attention, and they stop just because something happened to distract them from you. 99% of the time people do not actually care enough about (whatever they get from hurting) you to actually do it in a deliberate & regularly sustained manner. If they do, it’s probably more habit than plan. You’re there and they’re there and it’s something to do.
2. It might be about your reaction but it probably also sort of isn’t
People will ascribe to you whatever emotional reaction they feel like ascribing, very nearly regardless of what you actually do. If they want to believe you’re feeling a specific thing, they will. Trying to hide your reaction is natural but unlikely to change anything.
The role of your outward actions in response to bullying is similar. People can find something to point and laugh at about you regardless of exactly what you’re doing, and even if you’re doing nothing. People will hurt you for doing one thing and then hurt you just the same for doing the opposite.