I think that a lot of adults, and especially a lot of writers, just don’t “get” bullies. The worst bullies are not the big bruisers who steal lunch money, like Moe from “Calvin and Hobbes”. They’re not even the “popular kids” who tease the big group of nerds – that’s closer to the truth, but it’s too simplistic. No, the worst bullies are popular, smart, funny, and sadistic. And here’s the thing: It’s almost impossible to win.
I’m telling you this from experience – fighting back against bullies is like fighting the Joker. The Joker doesn’t care if you win every single fight with him. That doesn’t matter, because the Joker’s point isn’t to win. It’s to make you suffer. And, like in “The Dark Knight”, the only way to beat the Joker is to make what he does not matter. You need to stop caring about what the Joker does – and this is almost impossible.
Here’s a personal example, and even 6 years onward now this still bothers me. In eighth grade, I played soccer. I was the best defender on my team. In practice, I played just as aggressively as I did in games. This pissed some people off. One of them was a cocky son of a bitch, a kid who was part of the “popular” crowd and knew it. He got pissed at me in a scrimmage and when I was muscling for a ball (arms down – it was a perfectly legal play), and tried to grab me and throw me away. We got in a scuffle that ended up on the ground, and when we were pulled apart I was on top of him. Naturally, Popular Kid couldn’t believe it. First he accused me of punching him (I would have been completely justified, but this was a lie). Still, practice ended and I figured I was done dealing with him.
I was wrong. The next day, he came up to my lunch table with a sniggering group of “popular” kids. One of them snarkily asked me, “So why did you bite him?”. I was utterly confused. Turns out, he had a cut on his shoulder probably caused from the scuffle that looked like a bite mark. So, instead of accepting the fact that he tried to attack me and I beat him, he decided to save his ass by spreading a rumor. And there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. He was popular and I wasn’t. Ergo, he was telling the truth and I was lying. Simple as that. This persisted up into my Junior year of HS, were a kid who happened to go to my Middle School announced that I bit a kid in front of the class. If I had been closer to him at the time, I might have picked a fight. I was that mad.
This is one of those things that you’d think would be “Funny when you look back on it”. I’m still not laughing. Even writing this has me in a foul mood. Luckily I had a support group of loyal friends, or I don’t know how I would have gotten through Middle School. Switching schools was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Back to the point – I fought the Joker. I won the battle. The Joker won the war.
Real bullying is impossible to stop. The only way to win is to stop caring what they do. It’s harder than it sounds.
This “unpopular kid” disadvantage lasted into High School. The simple fact is that if I made a claim and a popular kid made an opposing claim, they were never going to believe me. This made me miserable sometimes. But that’s life – you deal with it. Still sucked though.