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Bullying Affects Social Status? 392

Posted by Zonk
from the don't-want-another-swirly dept.
An anonymous reader wrote to mention a ScienceDaily article about the social status effects of bullying on mice and men. From the article: "The results reveal neural mechanisms by which social learning is shaped by psychosocial experience and how antidepressants act in this particular brain circuit. They also suggest new strategies for treating mood disorders such as depression, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder, in which social withdrawal is a prominent symptom ... He and his colleagues also discovered that social defeat triggered an upheaval in gene expression in the target area of the circuit, the nucleus accumbens, located deep in the front part of the brain -- 309 genes increased in expression while 17 decreased."
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Bullying Affects Social Status?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:42PM (#14695189)
    If this isn't "news for nerds" I don't know what is.
  • False premise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hao Wu (652581) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:48PM (#14695219) Homepage
    Why it always assumed that social withdrawal is a sign of individual sickness - but not the group itself which should stand in judgement?
    • Re:False premise (Score:5, Interesting)

      by kfg (145172) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:06PM (#14695310)
      Among the wise solitude has ever been the cure for the depression caused by having to deal with people.

      As the great philosopher Van Pelt said:

      "I love mankind, it's people I can't stand."

      The "dogs" among the apes will never understand the "cats," however, even though they rely on them to keep watch over the tribe through the night, lest they all get eaten by lions while they sleep.

      And what the lions are doing eating in their sleep I'll never know.

      KFG
      • by Thing 1 (178996) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:44PM (#14695474) Journal
        I like the version from "Clerks":

        Randall: "I'm not going to miss what's probably going to be the social event of the season."
        Dante: "You hate people!"
        Randall: "But I love gatherings ... isn't it ironic?"

        Or this one, from earlier:

        Randall (to Dante about the customer who got offended by his speech, and then the nudie magazine that Randall opened in front of him): "That guy's an asshole. Everybody that comes in here is way too uptight. This job would be great if it wasn't for the fucking customers."
      • Who was it who said "Hell is other people"?
    • by mctk (840035) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:10PM (#14695333) Homepage
      I'll kick your ass if you keep asking questions.
    • Re:False premise (Score:5, Interesting)

      by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:17PM (#14695377) Homepage
      Why it always assumed that social withdrawal is a sign of individual sickness - but not the group itself which should stand in judgement?

      You tell it, brother!!

      You don't have to be outgoing type-A to be mentally healthy... or even what society considers mentally healthy to do well in this world. I recently heard an NPR story about how they've started to screen high school students with a questionnaire so that they can medicate people before they go off and kill themselves... but when I heard the 'warning signs' that they were looking for, I realized that they would have flagged me when I was in high school, and they would have tried to persuade my parents to medicate me. ...but the thing is that these medications kill all of your creativity (because lets face it creativity is often driven by depression and despair). I am positive that if I had been medicated I would not have accomplished even 10% of what I have accomplished in my life... things I have accomplished with my creativity and with a work ethic born of many, many failures. Sure, maybe I would have had more friends, and I probably would have gone to the prom, and maybe even gotten laid in high school... but I wouldn't have achieved nearly as much, and I probably wouldn't have been able to land my wife (who looks like a supermodel, but is also super-smart, and very funny).

      Now my kids are in pre-school, and the teachers are concerned because they don't socialize well and have poor coordination... yeah my four year old reads at a first grade level... but they just see that as a sign of parents pushing too hard (we don't push him at all by the way, he's just a very curious kid). They want us to stop teaching him reading and math and try to push him more into sports and socializing... But I say, so what if he wants to be nerdy.. let him be nerdy.
      • my wife (who looks like a supermodel, but is also super-smart, and very funny).
        A preemptive apology for forgetting Valentine's day?
      • Your children are in danger of falling into the same social death-spiral that many of us nerds have suffered. We all got to where we are now because:
        • We received positive feedback as a result of some non-social activity.
        • We received less positive or negative feed back as a result of social activity.

        This, understandably, caused us to spend more time with our strength and avoid our perceived weakness. Predictably, this lead to improvement in our non-social skill and continued or increased positive feed

        • However, allowing them to inadvertently "min-max" their INT at the expense of their STR, DEX, or CHA would constitute a failed WIS check on your part.

          Thank god someone finally put this into terms that everyone around here can understand!

        • Re:False premise (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EccentricAnomaly (451326) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @06:06PM (#14696169) Homepage
          Most parents feel that they would like their children to do better than they have done and not make the same mistakes they have made. Please take the advice of your children's teachers and spend more time focusing on enabling your children to improve on their weaknesses.

          or... I could just let my kids grow up to be who they are rather than forcing them do do things that don't fit in their character. My extended family is full of introverts who would rather be alone than the center of attention. There is nothing wrong with being introverted. Quoth Socrates: "Know Thyself"

          You can force your kids to 'pad their stats' if you want... and you'll probably teach them to focus on their inadequacies rather than their strengths. My kids will know who they are, and what they like to do.... and they'll be happier, more well-adjusted adults as a result.
        • Re:False premise (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Eli Gottlieb (917758)

          Your children are in danger of falling into the same social death-spiral that many of us nerds have suffered. We all got to where we are now because:

          * We received positive feedback as a result of some non-social activity.
          * We received less positive or negative feed back as a result of social activity.


          Parents don't make nerds. Kids make nerds. Kids decide that X over there is a teacher's pet/not cool/doesn't use the right slang and refuse to play wi
      • because lets face it creativity is often driven by depression and despair

        There may be people who did wonderful creative things in spite of being horribly depressed, but by no means does that mean that it was driven by depression. There are far more people driven into crippling alcoholism or suicide than to do great creative things. Furthermore, there are more people who have done great creative things who weren't depressed. Some of them were even (gasp!) medicated!

        Yes, our society is over-medicated, and
    • Re:False premise (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:39PM (#14695458)
      Because most of the time social withdrawal is a sign of mental health issues. Are you going to try and prove otherwise? Or were you simply being argumentive and philosophical?
      • Because most of the time social withdrawal is a sign of mental health issues. Are you going to try and prove otherwise? Or were you simply being argumentive and philosophical?

        You're a dumbass. dumbity-dumb-dumb-dumbass.

        Why the hell is bullying not more of sign of mental health issues?? Do bullies ever turn out to be healthy adults? Dumbass. Yet how many introverted kids, not only turn out fine, but end up doing great things... like say Abraham Lincoln? Dumbass.

        Shit I knew smarty-pants know-it-alls like
      • So what you're saying is that social withdrawal is a sign of sickness because social withdrawl is a sign of sickness. Thanks for clearing that up.
    • Because we are fundamentally a social species. Otherwise the lion will eat you. To tell you the truth, probably 99.99% of the population of the world, withdrawn or not, would probably die quite quickly if they were suddenly forced to get along entirely without other people.
    • Why it always assumed that social withdrawal is a sign of individual sickness - but not the group itself which should stand in judgement?

      I suspect because it's a lot easier to treat individuals who seek help than to attempt to alter the way that all people interact with one another. In an ideal world perhaps it would be easy to fundamentally alter human nature, but in this world it's easier to attempt to treat people that have suffered exceptionally because of it.

      What was shown in this article (which most
  • by NiteShaed (315799) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:49PM (#14695225)
    In extreme cases, such as people with actual social phobias, being able to better control their disorder with anti-depressants sounds fine, but I hope this doesn't get turned around so that the "treatment" for bullying is to medicate the victim and ignore the actual cause (the actual bully)
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:57PM (#14695270) Homepage Journal
      Bingo. Bullying turns people into depressed loners -- wow, that's news.

      I was bullied incessantly in elementary school and junior high, and acted, well, pretty much like the "normal" mice. In high school, this changed, but it wasn't because of a knockout gene. It was because I learned to fight back -- a knockout punch instead of a gene, you might say. We don't need more and better antidepressants. We need more instructors who know how to take scared, depressed geeks and turn them into fighters. And more bullies lying bleeding in school hallways spitting out their own teeth.
      • by Flying pig (925874) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:49PM (#14695499)
        Bullying should be treated in law as what it is - an assault on the person. When the parents of bullies realise that the outcome will be time in juvenile detention for their child and payment of damages by themselves - the problem will start to go away.

        Violence that begets violence never ends. Violence that results in financial and social penalties has a limited life span.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          When the parents of bullies realise that the outcome will be time in juvenile detention for their child and payment of damages by themselves - the problem will start to go away.

          You forget that bullying is often times rewarded as a form of social control and contort.
        • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @05:23PM (#14695952)
          Violence that begets violence never ends.

          "If the motive is good, and there are no other possibilities, then seen most deeply it (violence) is nonviolence, because its aim is to help others."
          ---Dalai Lama

          It's been proven over and over that standing up to a bully will not only not "beget violence", but will qucikly end the escalation of violence which most bullies use. My own experiene with bullying began when I moved to North America in grade 5. In my home country I was always popular, but after moving I became the new-kid-who-can't-even-speak-english-well. Three bullies picked on me for exactly one week, at which point I had enough. I flipped one of my antagonists on his ass and broke another ones nose, while the third just stood there and watched in shock. After which they all ran away.

          Ofcourse, I got suspended for a couple of days, but I never had problems with bullying again.
    • Yeah, a little ol' can of whupass seamed to do the trick for me. I've had a few bullies in my day, but then I would get pissed at them and take them on. I've had bullies try their stupid intimidation techniques on me (walking up to me and glaring). Not one bully has ever laid a finger on me. It's when you challenge them to a fight that they back off and bug someone else...
      I've also heard of prankster approaches to the bully issue. My friend shared a locker with a foot ball player who was a jerk. The footbal
  • by hcob$ (766699) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:51PM (#14695228)
    But.... Bullying is what made me the man I am today. I can easily pick out the "bully" in a group and then I can use intelligence, postioning, and execution to cull that person (or personality) from my work environment. It makes my life easier and the workplace easier to go to.

    On a side note, if we can treat true depression and PTSD with a gene therapy, GREAT! It will allow Veterans who went through a horrible situation to undo the psych damage and return to a normal life. Same with clinical depression. Remove the behavioral restrictions and open that person up again. I see a much happier world if this actually comes to pass!
    • I can use intelligence, postioning, and execution to cull that person (or personality) from my work environment.

      Reminds me of that newspaper headline about the debate on capital punishment in the schools. Seems kind of harsh, but I guess it would cut down on the bullying.
    • by Mistshadow2k4 (748958) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:28PM (#14695405) Journal

      Um... the same thing can often apply with regards to depression, treating the cause rather than the sympton. God knows I went through enough of that when I was a kid. Gee whiz, I need to treat this poor little girl for depression. Wait, could it be her neglectful and abusive parents who make her depressed? Nah, that's pretty unlikely. Let's give her anti-depressants instead.

      Clicnical depression - depression without an actual cause - is a separate problem, usually caused by a chemical imbalance. But many cases of depression are symptoms of other problems, and treating the person for depression rather than helping them with said problems isn't going to be very effective. Unfortunately, that's the approach most doctors take. (And a cynical person might note that since their problems aren't going away the doctor continues to make money for treating them.)

      • Well said. See also "cough medicine" and nasal decongestants.
        • Cough medicine and nasal decongestants are designed to treat symptoms of diseases for which we have no treatment. By doing so, they might actually help you get better a bit faster but will likely make you feel better while you're sick. For example, taking a decongestant so you can sleep when you have a cold may help you get better faster than fitful sleeping and exhaustion.

          Anybody who thinks these things are supposed to cure your cold is, well, poorly educated.
      • >>Clicnical depression - depression without an actual cause

        Maybe we travel in different social circles but I don't know anyone that doesn't have a reason to be depressed.

        All depression can be defined in terms of brain chemistry. Some people heal themselves through changing their behavior. Some people need medications. Both aim to return the brain to the same state.
        • Some people get sad when all their friends are too busy to do things, or their aunt dies. Other people are sad much of the time, regardless of what's going on. That's clinical depression. There is a difference. One is caused by external factors, the other is not.
    • Yes, you are just cynical. Thanks for playing.
    • " But.... Bullying is what made me the man I am today."

      I second you on that. I'd probably never learn how to deal with people so well if I didn't have a few bullies to convince to stop when I was a kid. I've trained lots of communication (and social) skills this way, and guess what?! They are very usefull today.

      Everything seems worse when you are a kid. I have a baby here at my side who is simply terrified by the noise that the whater does passing in a nearby pipe. I understand the despair of children be

    • I can easily pick out the "bully" in a group and then I can use intelligence, postioning, and execution to cull that person (or personality) from my work environment.

      Ahem. Are you trying to be funny? This sounds like bullying to me. I recommend looking up the salem witch trials. You might be convinced that the law is not an oppressor of the people, rather, a safeguard against trigger-happy paranoids. A theme common among the Nazi party was the execution of undesirables. I recommend looking up the holocaust
  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:51PM (#14695232)
    This study is interesting because it ties antidepressants right back to behavior. The percentage of Americans who use antidepressants is at least 15% and rising [cdc.gov]. Taken together, this means a sizeable segment of society is acting differently than they would have before. What, I wonder, are the aggregate impacts on society?
    • I'm more interested in the cultural impact of a genetic therapy that effects social memory of defeat. I mean, think about it: it's the perfect way to control a population. You get all of the benefits of tight social control with none of the downsides. Under influence of this therapy (and other, more fine tuned ones) the population could conceivably remain perfectly happy and productive while remaining under the tight grip of totalitarianism. (Which usually reduces productivity through unexpressed social
  • by OctoberSky (888619) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:51PM (#14695236)
    Isn't this Slashdot? News for Nerds?

    I think this crowd knows very well the effects of bullying.
  • This supports anthropological observations of non-human primates. Low-grade harassment or even outright attack allows adolescent primates to sort out their relative status early. Humans aren't any different from our cousins in this regard. Bullying is a tactic to determine status. A harassed, bullied animal or human that doesn't hold its or his or her own is going to retreat. Naturally.
  • by Original Replica (908688) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:56PM (#14695265) Journal
    Improved anti-depressant treatments are nice and all, but how about a treatment for the source of the problem: the bully. There are enough cases of kids picked on past the breaking point, that we should learn to focus on treating the cause not the symptoms of social abuse. Give the drugs to the jerks who feel the need to dominate and humliate.
    • every problem can be solved with sufficient doses of drugs.
    • You don't think they are studying the other side of the problem? Do you think it would have been a better idea to offer no kind of solutions to anyone until the perfect solution has been discovered?

      This, of course, ignores that fact that a victim will often realise that there is a problem, where as the bully (or whoever) will not. And in cases like that, you would be medicating someone against their will.


      • You don't think they are studying the other side of the problem?

        Quite frankly, no. Oh I'm sure there's some guy out there that's "studying the problem" but no I don't think bullying is at all something schools, parents of bullies, or people in general take seriously. What's the response after crap like Columbine goes down? No, it's not look into why kids are going nuts and shooting each other.. it's putting in metal detectors, profiling, and "zero tolerance" policies.
    • Give the drugs to the jerks who feel the need to dominate and humliate.

      The bullies already have the drugs. Then they bully everyone else to buy them...
  • by Speare (84249) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @02:58PM (#14695275) Homepage Journal
    I've also wondered if being the victim of bullying affected the socio-political choices you make in the future. For example, do those who've never experienced bulling see more or less need for protecting civil liberties and privacy? Do those who were loners in school see more or less need for organized labor? And so on.

    I'm not saying Republicans are bullies and Democrats are victims or anything, but there sure seem to be a lot of people who just don't "get" the need for judicial oversight, fair representation in court or congress, support for the poor, or the concept of a truly open marketplace.

    • I'm not saying Republicans are bullies and Democrats are victims or anything

      I'd also argue just the opposite. Conservatives appeal more than anything to fear: fear of racial and ethnic out-groups, fear of crime, fear of terrorism, fear of things that go bump in the night. They are quick to choose safety in the "safety vs. liberty" debate, even when the tradeoff itself is an illusion. Their prediliction for harsh and preemptive treatment of everyone they percieve as threats masquerades as strength, when in

      • Both major parties probably have a substantial number of adherents who join up because they want to associate themselves with what they think will become the dominant group, whether through force or superior justice or whatever.
      • They also have some who sign up because they expect direct benefits to their subgroup (e.g., corporate welfare to this or that industry, helpful contracts, labor laws, anti-discrimination laws).
      • Related to this, but I think distinguishable, each party has some who think their indiv
    • Something to chew on (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grimJester (890090)
      I'm not saying Republicans are bullies and Democrats are victims or anything, but there sure seem to be a lot of people who just don't "get" the need for judicial oversight, fair representation in court or congress, support for the poor, or the concept of a truly open marketplace.

      There are loads of people in this discussion who seem to think this treatment is bad because punishing the bully should come first. The issues you describe are more of a rational "take a step back" view on things, while reacting
    • I've also wondered if being the victim of bullying affected the socio-political choices you make in the future.

      It might, depending on many factors such as severity, duration, official reaction, and individual psychological make up. I expect that most people probably just get over it.

      I'm not saying Republicans are bullies and Democrats are victims or anything, but there sure seem to be a lot of people who just don't "get" the need for judicial oversight, fair representation in court or congress, support fo
  • This is another case of science finding the mechanism to explain what was already known for years, if not centuries. Since there is no method now known to mechanically adjust neural pathways, psychological methods must still be employed. As pointed out by others, each person can react to stimulus in different manners... for some, bad experiences can create a good outcome. This is the stuff that hazing and boot camps are meant to do.

    Mechanically, or pharmacologically adjusting neural pathways is a dangerous
  • by thx1138_az (163286) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:13PM (#14695349)
    I'm a nerd or certainly was for one for sure. A number of years ago I started studying Buddhism (no seriously). One of the more difficult concepts of Buddhism is something called Emptiness. Basically its a philosophy that none of this crap really matters because, well, it does really exist - hence emptiness. At least not in the way we think it does.

    It is our attachment to what others think (social status) that causes our unhappiness, shame and embarrassment. So if it doesn't exist then there's nothing to be attached to and nothing to be fearful of. Once I came to deeply realize this I was able to exploit it (OK, it is not what the Buddha had in mind) and achieve a much elevated social status. Even though I don't care about it, it does make my life a little easier.

    So the next time someone put you on the spot just shrug your shoulders and say "what ever".
    • >So the next time someone put you on the spot just shrug your shoulders and say "what ever".

      I haven't studied Buddhism but this does work. Sort of like the "Don't bring work home, leave it at work." idea, which does work wonders.

      I suppose thats why they say "Your health and family are the most important things in your life" because you can't ignore them.
  • by iiii (541004) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:16PM (#14695366) Homepage
    For a much more in depth look at this check out Howard Bloom's "The Lucifer Principle". [amazon.com] It is an amazing new insight on how evolution really works, as competition between groups (superorganisms). He analyzes in depth the mechanisms that make drive this process. One of the main mechanisms is the pecking order, and the affect of an organism's (including a human) status in the pecking order on its biology is significant and surprising. I thought this book was amazing, revolutionary, and jam-packed with new ideas that ring true, supported by research from all corners of science.
    • Haven't read the book, but the premise sounds solid. People - even many biologists - make the mistake of assuming that evolution works only at the level of the fitness and survival of individuals. For social animals like us, though, survival and reproduction has as much to do with the particular population that we're a part of, including its culture. Culture, much like our genes, is transmitted (with some modification) from each generation to the next. When one population succeeds and another fails in an ev
  • by behindthewall (231520) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:21PM (#14695388)
    What this appears to infer is that bullying is an effective social strategy. Perhaps I should say, of its own and in a limited social context.

    Effective down to the biological level.

    If we can acknowledge that, perhaps we can stop some of the frustrating rhetoric about how the bully is "wrong" and should be "understood".

    So, the bully has something tangible to gain from their behavior. (And I mean not just the immediate response but the long term social implications.) Does "correcting" that behavior address the sole root of the problem? Or do we also need to give those bullied effective tools for dealing with the bullying and for maintaining self esteem? Do we let them know just how important it is to maintain that self-esteem? (The article is saying that in failing to do so, they essentially become hard-wired for a different and seemingly less satisfying social role).

    The bullying exists within a social context with constraining bounds. The parent of a bullied child can't go an beat the cr*p out of the bully -- not without going to jail. There are already limits that have been decided upon. So, we get to make choices. Can we then also choose and foster, at least to some extent, the types of personalities we wish to see succeed? The type of society we with to propagate?

    For my part, if I ever have kids, they will have martial arts training. That part is a simple decision for me. It won't solve every problem, but it will increase the odds considerably that they won't find themselves forced to be pushed around, at least physically. And perhaps a good instructor can help with some of the mental aspects, as well -- I understand that is an essential component of good training.
    • Kids who turn into bullies are often nasty from birth.

      I've seen some kids growing up in a very loving community with very loving parents and excellent role models. Some of them are wonderful and use the resources at their disposal to grow strong and compassionate. But I've seen some really shitty kids who enjoy hurting and manipulating other kids. I think the individual person decides the route through life.

      So teaching your kids Kung Fu is certainly fine, but there's nothing to say that one or more of yo
    • For my part, if I ever have kids, they will have martial arts training. That part is a simple decision for me. It won't solve every problem, but it will increase the odds considerably that they won't find themselves forced to be pushed around, at least physically. And perhaps a good instructor can help with some of the mental aspects, as well -- I understand that is an essential component of good training.

      And it is children of parents like you who I will refuse to train.

      Instead of sending your children

  • . . . but I was to afraid to show up for the photo shoot.

    I'm allowed to make jokes like that because, well . . .

    STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!

    . . . no, seriously, I know what those damn mice feel like . . ."

    HEY, MR. HAND, SLUGGO GOING TO BE MEAN TO ME!
  • by azakem (924479)
    Could someone please translate this into lay speak? Damn it, Jim, I'm a computer scientist, not a biologist!
  • Um... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kiracatgirl (791797) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @03:30PM (#14695418)
    How is this a good thing? It says that if they turn off your ability to learn the signs that a situation is potentially dangerous, you won't develop "social avoidance behaviour" due to bullying. That's nice, but wouldn't that mean you have to give the treatment BEFORE the subject is bullied? What does that due to being able to cope in real life? Would the subject end up being more prone to being mugged, raped, or caught in various violent situations due to his/her inability to recognize threatening behaviour and respond appropriately? This doesn't seem at all useful or even particularly enlightening. People know extensive bullying as a child often causes those social issues, and it'd be nice to get rid of them, but the only real solution is to get rid of the bullies - NOT to cripple the poor kids' ability to learn on the suspicion that they might be bullied later on.
  • by TechieHermit (944255) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @04:39PM (#14695749) Journal
    Ok, first of all, I was bullied all the way through school. In public school, the bullying took the shape of beatings and physical attacks. In particular, a mean little shit named Scott D---- used me to "build his rep" (New York public schools work like prisons, socially). After I almost killed one of the bullies in the seventh grade (I got him in a chokehold and turned his face purple, then was attacked by twenty of his friends in, basically, a riot) I got pulled out of school.

    I went to a private school in New Jersey, where the bullying wasn't physical, it was mental. I was one of the only poor kids there, and the rich kids would make fun of my clothes, my mannerisms, my lack of money, the fact that I wasn't invited to their parties, etc. I turned inwards, focusing on science and math and became one of the best students in the school; I drew comfort from the fact that I was one of the three smartest kids in the whole place. We geeks hung out together, and for the first time, I actually had some friends. This was very instructive.

    When I went to college, I was again picked on off and on, but it was much more subdued. I knew some karate by that point but it wasn't enough. I was getting really tired of being so weak that other people could actually CHOOSE to pick on me and finally, I did something about it. I figured, if I can make myself so tough that the bullies THEMSELVES were afraid of me, maybe everyone would leave me in peace. So I did.

    I joined the Marine Corps as a grunt, and found myself in a raid unit. This was essentially an infrantry unit which was almost (but not quite) special forces, whose duty it was to attack and destroy enemy bases at night, taking no prisoners and leaving nothing functional. Blowing up SAM sites, fire bases, things like that. That's what we were taught, anyway. We weren't used in combat, which I was quite happy about. But I did learn how to fight (and kill) on a level much more aggressive than most civilians ever do.

    Smack dab in the middle of my enlistment, my unit was on float when Gulf War I happened. Again, we weren't used, we ended up floating offshore for 110 days, in a ship's berthing which had no air conditioning. It was like, 120+ degrees during the day and 70 at night. We were miserable. The tougher marines (keeping in mind that at six feet tall and 220 pounds, I was only mid-size for my unit) started beating on me because I was a "goddamn college kid" and so on. The longer they went without drinking, the more pissed off they got. I won't tell you the rest of that particular story, but eventually when I returned to the civilian world, I was quite a bit meaner and tougher than when I'd left it.

    Luckily, for some reason, at 6' and 250 (when I got back) with skull tattoos and all that, people just didn't seem to want to pick on me anymore. Over the course of several years, I gradually relaxed and became more peaceful. I went back to college and studied Mechanical Engineering, but that didn't work out for me (no career prospects) and I switched to something I found more fun, i.e. computer science. I got my degree, had my dot-com experiences, and ended up working for the government.

    It took me TEN YEARS to heal over all the mental scars I picked up in the marines (and earlier, in school). It's only been in the past few years that I've really started to feel relaxed, without the sense that ANY MINUTE something terrible is going to happen to me. Only lately have I been comfortable trusting someone who wasn't a blood relative (and then, only if I can determine that our interests are aligned enough that the person won't be tempted to screw me).

    To this day, I don't trust people in general. I see the human race as petty, selfish, nasty, and fickle, with a mean-streak a mile wide that only needs an opportunity to show itself. I do my best to avoid crowds, gatherings, any sort of grouping of people... I try to be invisible, someone you wouldn't even look twice at. And I avoid others as best I can.

    Sometimes I think a great crime has
  • by Ragnarrokk (906696) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @05:22PM (#14695948)
    But I choose solitude. Is it not the geeky thing to do? I don't mean, fortifying myself in my room, switching off the lights, and avoiding outside contact with the universe, I mean, generally keeping away from the "ordinary populace".

    I'll be honest, normal people annoy me. Perhaps it is elitism, or maybe I just see myself as "different", although that seems to come straight from a book on politically correct speech. I don't like normal people. I don't like interacting with them, not because I fear them, but because they're just SO boring. I don't care about football, or "like, how totally scandalous Sarah's new hairdo" is. Normal people seem shortsighted and keep nothing below the surface, and have an interest in whatever the media and pack mentality pushes on them.

    I go to a school for "gifted" children, or supposedly the top ten percent in any case, an English Grammar School, and I was bullied, I really was, but it taught me so much about humans and how society operates. I saw how countless "leaders" of packs coerced and forced others, who I could see did not want to bully me, get pushed into it, and happily tried to apply pain to me, simply to save their own skin, stay popular and not stand up for their own opinions. Over time, I could see them get intoxicated with the power over me and happily coerce others into it. Some people are such simple creatures, that socialising with them would just be boring. The bullying stopped once I just stood up for myself, because, hey, no bully has any real courage when confronted, they enjoy picking on the weakest in the largest possible pack, which they're always attempting to increase in size, after all.

    I have friends, but I choose a few good, non-normal friends over the armies of "friends" everyone else has, who are nice to each other simply to save face and not be socially outcast, the worst possible punishment of all.

    I would be seen as socially outcast, and perhaps with a "social phobia", but this is all by choice, to avoid people I just don't care about, and I'm not the only one, there are more than a handful in my school. For example, one of my female friends and I were discussing something geeky, along the lines of whether stargates were physically possible, when some girl swanned up to her (because she was female and OBVIOUSLY part of a pack, by standard) and said,
    "OOhmigawd, did you see what Gwen Stephanie wore at the MTV awards? I mean, totally disasterous!"
    "....I didn't watch it."
    "Oh, poor YOU, don't worry, I think it's like, repeating on sunday or something."
    "No, I just really don't care about it."
    *Girl stands there for a minute, with a half puzzled, half offended look, before spying someone else to go and verbally assualt and rushes off*

    Perhaps I'm an extreme, and very pessimistic, but why is avoiding branches of society always seen as an illness? Us geeks and nerds, we tend to make up a large proportion of the excellent minds of humanity, the open minded sector, why is it that they try to "treat" us? We affect humanity more with our research and interests, more than the guy who's going to lay bricks for a living, but is socially accepted ever will? Why not try it the other way around? Why arn't THEY at fault?

    I guess for several reasons. People don't like to think they're wrong, and when most people don't want to be wrong, groupthink makes sure they're right, and their society is best. Management likes us to comply. Different thinking people only cause problems, whereas cattlepeople are easy to manage and handle. This works on every level, even some parents would prefer their children to be non geeks and normal, so the punishment of "go to your room, and you're not going out for three days" would actually work. Society also doesn't like splinter cells, they are scary, and different. If they can be forced to comply, the threat is gone, and obviously the status quo. was therefore correct.

    I have geeky interests. I have a few close true friends. I like so
  • Since the government officials responsible for creating situations for bullying are refusing to compensate for damages caused by their malfaesance, the proper solution is to bully them.

    The ultimate solution would be to bring back the old pre-Christian northern European tradition of single combat to the death but with rules that would allow some reasonable selective pressure:

    Any voting adult may be challenged to formal combat to the death by a public notice 48 hours prior to the commencement of said comb

Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse

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