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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 9 2012: I'm curious if bullying could be seen as an extension of modeling behavior through play, like pre-schoolers playing house, or your video game.

    If we know that play is the work of children, how they learn about the world around them, then is it possible to extend this type of learning into teens?

    Could bullying be a dramatic (meaning played with higher stakes and more drastic consequences) way for young adults to try and understand how it looks like adults verbally and emotionally, sometimes physically, treat each other? Maybe this is why bullies have a tendency to not think or care about the after-effect of their actions, if in a way it's all a game.

    Bully tend to pick on those that don't blend in; those that are vulnerable; those that are 'other' than the bullying group, like LatinLupe752. I believe that exercising and teaching/showing empathy and more truth telling about vulnerability and failure leading to individuality and strength could help rectify bullying in young adults and adults.

    This needs to happen through skills: about listening, being vulnerable, speaking for yourself, community/ensemble, action and reaction, metaphor, empathy, articulating fears and emotions, buoyancy and breathing (a highly underrated tool that many don't do well - breathing deep, controlled breathing for specific emotional, mental and physical responses).

    Children don't come to this world hating. They have to learn it. And I believe we all learn from what we experience and observe more than what we are told.

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