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Carlos Miranda Levy

NEVER HELP: engage, enable, empower and connect, Relief 2.0 / Markets of Hope


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What can we do and what do we do about bullying?

Recently, while playing Red Dead Redemption I noticed another player, LatinLupe752, running in a straight line towards Chuparosa, a dusty settlement in the middle of nowhere.

Obviously a noobie. If you run in a straight line in an open field, you will be shot, in real life and in video games too.

I took my gun and killed him. Bam! 10 seconds later he, or she, respawned and started to run in a straight line again. I shot him again. Bam! He respawned once more; I switched weapons to a shotgun and shot him again, and again, and again. Soon I was "most wanted player" and there was a bounty on my head. I was killed by other players who came for the bounty.

I respawned and looked around for LatinLupe752, and saw him in the distance leaving the area, probably just wanted to play in peace and decided to go somewhere else in the game. I got on my horse, climbed up a hill, took aim with my carcano rifle and shot him in the head from afar. He respawned again and I shot his horse and then I shot him. They never came back.

Why would I, an active collaborating member of Stanford University Peace Innovation Lab, become a bully so vicious to this individual? Why couldn't I just let him play?

I did it because:

- There was a reward for me in doing it: Everytime I killed LatinLupe752 I would receive experience points and increase my reputation. A clean head shot earned me additional points.

- Yes, I was killed twice by other players who came to collect the bounty on my head, but that did not reduce my experience points or my reputation, so I didn´t mind the inconvenience of respawning a few seconds later and continue my behavior going after more points with LatinLupe752's face in them.

More important, it had nothing to do with LatinLupe752, I did not think he or she was weak, weird or different. It wasn't about intolerance and it wasn't personal.

I did it because there was something for me to gain and because the penalties involved were not enough to deter me from it.


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    Jul 3 2012: This is based on my own experience and observations:

    Bullies seem to have a blurred perception of what civilized behaviour is, and adopt a kind of remoteness from any moderating influences of that behaviour. They somehow feel protected from the consequences their own actions.

    In people who are not normally bullies, a similar kind of protected remoteness from civilized behaviour can be conjured up through video games, during 'road rage' incidents when we feel protected in a lockable car, watching reality shows on TV protected in our own homes etc - even in those people whose behaviour is normally very civilized in face-to-face contact. This 'protective cage' enables us to switch off our own internal moderator, because we know that the harsh consequences, which would otherwise be meted out in civilized reality, will feel less punitive.

    I suggest that there may be a bully in all of us. Our bully will out itself if it feels protected from the consequences of its own bad behaviour. If that bully then goes on to win accolades (rewards) from parents and peers for such behaviour, it will feel further empowered, strengthened, and the behaviour will persist and maybe even escalate to a feeling of omnipotence - until someone comes along to break down that protection (so revealing a vulnerable core).

    If we want to disarm a real bully, their vulnerable core needs to be identified and revealed (they all have one - without exception!). That vulnerability has to be seen as clearly as possible by their peers, for disarming to be as effective as possible.
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      Jul 3 2012: You talking 'bout "The Hulk"? :-)

      Sorry, I loved your point and insights, but the Marvel comics fan in me couldn't help but make the comment above. And your solution is one that can easily be grasped by youngsters as well: find their kryptonite!

      I find the disconnect aspect you mention for the bully behavior as a valuable insight and one that deserves further discussion.

      At this point, we feel the need to ask: the cause for bullying, is it nature or nurture? And as in almost every other similar social behavior discussion the answer is "both!".

      I believe we need to look carefully into the environmental enablers and social triggers as well as into the individual pre-conditions, experiences and catalyzers. It is the random and diverse combination of both that allows the bully phenomenon to exist. Without and enabling environment, the bullying behavior would not survive long, despite the individual experience and conditions that triggers it.
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        Jul 3 2012: Well, I burst out of my shirts, but more in the stomach area than the chest these days! :-)

        I meant experience of being bullied, rather than me doing the bullying!
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      Jul 12 2012: Excellent consideration and analysis of the question, so thank you, Allan.

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