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Week 3 of Mindful May and it's all about the TUB's

Last week, we talked about COB’s Cowardly Opportunists Bullies, this week we are going to talk about TUB’s. However, before we talk about the TUB’s let’s clarify who we are not talking about.

We are not talking about the people who occasionally “put their foot in it.” The wrong choice of word or the mispronunciation of a word that can cause offence. We can all do this and the important thing is – it is unintentional! The brain and the mouth are out of cynic and it happens.

We are not talking about individuals who are on the autistic spectrum who find “reading the room” or the social context difficult and who say the wrong thing because they have misunderstood what has happened around them. Again, this in not intentional. The emphasise is therefore upon us to understand this, to act accordingly and appropriately.

The TUB’s we are taking about are Terrible Utterances Bullies. These bullies mean to hurt the individuals with their choice of words and the way with which they say them. These include the group of individuals who think they have the right to say what they think when they think it. The “I call a spade a spade” people, who think ‘freedom of speech’ means that they can say something regardless of the impact that has on others.

To give you an example an elderly gentleman entered a room to find it full of teenagers and said. “Oh, a room full of foreigners!” Ok that was possibly a surprise utterance. However, he wanted to make that point by going around the room asking everyone where they all came from. As it happened, they were all British nationals and local. The only white individual in the room was, in fact, a European and the only foreigner. This elderly gentleman had made the assumption that none white skin meant you could not be British. The irony was not lost on everyone in the room.

We are also talking about Trolls - An Internet troll is a member of an online social community who deliberately tries to disrupt, attack, offend or generally cause trouble within the community by posting certain comments, photos, videos, GIFs or some other form of online content.

TUB’s use two types of intentional campaigns - verbal and social bullying.

Conscious verbal bullying includes name calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse. While verbal bullying can appear to start off harmless, it can escalate to levels where it starts affecting the lives of the individuals receiving it.

Social bullying, is often harder to recognise and can be carried out behind the individual’s back. It is premeditated to harm someone and cause them public humiliation. Social bullying includes:

  • lying and spreading rumours

  • negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks

  • playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate

  • mimicking unkindly

  • encouraging others to socially exclude someone

  • damaging someone's social reputation or social acceptance or event

  • damaging their place at school or workplace.

Unlike the COB’s who only bully when they know they can get away with it - TUB’s are in some ways easier to deal with, you can at least reply.

Standing up for yourself and replying may not be so easy for some of us. Stopping this abuse requires skills different from an everyday disagreement with friends. A way to respond to a TUB is to attempt to reason with him or her. Don’t expect the TUB to react to reason, if they were thinking rationally - they would not be bulling.

The most effective way to challenge the TUB and to call out the TUB every time they do it. You need to ignore the actual content of what's been said, identify the type of abuse employed, name it, and then tell them to stop. “Oh! are you trolling me again – stop it!” “Oh, another of your nasty childish jokes – grow up!” “Is your facial tick back or are you attempting to communicate with silly faces again?” Said in front of others it can be quite effective.

Sometimes you can tell someone to stop without even telling them. Here is an example from my time at a youth club. A group of young teenagers welcomed a new member in to the youth club. It is customary of each member of the group to have a nickname. Nicknames are given to you by the group, you can’t pick your nickname. Apparently, it one of those unwritten social laws! The group started to call the new member ‘Shorty’ - because he was short. Sadly, it was not original by any standards. However, this individual did not like the nickname. It hurt his feelings. So, one day when they were hanging out he spoke out and told them that while he wanted to be in the group, his height was not a joke. He was short, but he did not want to be reminded of that. The group explained that being accepted into the group was when you were given the nickname and the nickname comes from the group, when you get the nickname you know you’re being accepted. None of the nicknames were flattering. They didn’t mind. The group ignored him and the youth leaders then had to become involved. The adult leaders chose this approach. Every time they heard the name “Shorty” being used they would look up and say “Who me? Sorry I wasn’t listening! Who called me?” This forced the others to say “No, not you, I meant . . .” and then give the young man his real name. Within the month all the nicknames had been dropped.

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