i've been thinking about bullying a lot lately. i posted about it before from my own experiences, which weren't that bad, fortunately. but lately i've been thinking about the bystander thing--the idea that, if you do nothing when you know that someone is being bullied, you're as culpable as the person doing the actual bullying.
i can be confrontational sometimes, and i try to be honest in my dealings, but i also know that i can be a very intense, outspoken, sometimes domineering person, qualities that i've been working hard to moderate in the past couple of decades. part of that work involves embracing the art of the unspoken opinion. everyone doesn't have to know my every thought all the time. (if you're wondering how i still manage to express so damned much, just tell yourself that i have a lot of thoughts and opinions. imagine how many there must be if i'm holding back and still say so much!)
anyway, i've been reading a forum on ravelry about the closing of one of my favorite yarn shops to visit when out of town: threadbear. apparently, the owner owed a bunch of back rent, so the place was seized, along with everything in it. former employees are owed paychecks that they'll apparently never see, and customers have gift cards and store credit that is just gone. i'm out $20 that way, but that's my own fault for forgetting to take the card with me last time i visited.
so a lot of people are really bitter about this. really angry. i can totally see why. but some of the expressions of that anger are coming across, imo, as the sort of thing that could pile up into the owner--a tender man i don't know well but who is apologetic for his role in the closure of the shop--as bullying. one angry comment, no matter how mean, isn't necessarily bullying. but a lot of mean comments piling up against one person, especially those that are full of blame and personal attacks, seem to me to be cruel.
whether it's intended as bullying or just venting or seeking a solution, there are ways to express one's feelings, no matter how negative, that would not add to the person who is the object (in this case, the yarn-shop owner, rob) feeling worse about himself. if enough of those bad feelings pile up, it's (imo) like driving a nail. it doesn't just take one hard thump to pound it flat; sometimes, it's a series of battering whaps that ends up with the nail sunk beneath the surface, beyond being pulled back up.
those are the times i think that people attempt suicide. or run away from home. or just sink into depression. those comments certainly aren't sufficient cause for anyone to do any of those things. but they can contribute. and depending on the makeup of the nail and the material into which it's being pounded, and the hardness of the hammer and the nature of the swing, they can do a lot of damage.
so i'm thinking. i don't need to defend the actions of someone who's being criticized in order to protest the kinds of swings that can drive the nail down. i'm not sure what to do in this particular situation; i don't want to be or appear self-righteous or scolding. but i do not want to be a bystander.
don't be mean. we don't *have* to be mean.