Otaku Diaries Part 3: Sticks, stones, AND words can hurt you!

I was bullied in school, sometimes worse than others. It’s another thing I don’t like to revisit.

While bullying is never quite how it is in fiction it is all too real for most nerds, geeks, and otaku. Almost everyone in the survey has been bullied at some point. I am sure if we all look back over our lives we will notice that sometime someone has tried to hold dominion over us physically or mentally to the point that it could only be called bullying. Sometimes it’s a family member, sometimes it’s someone at school, sometimes it’s someone at work, sometimes it’s long term, and sometimes it’s a few isolated incidents. For most people, it is a trial you must face in their life at least once. But over all the weaker people perceive you the more people with predatory natures will be attracted to you. People who have geeky hobbies tend to be people who give off an aura of vulnerability and therefore they will get harassed more than other people.

This particular article in the series probably isn’t too surprising to anyone. If there is one thing that has been played to death on television and movies it is that nerds/dorks/geeks/what have you are notorious for being picked on. Though those instances are usually pretty exaggerated, the underlying idea that this happens a lot is still relevant. And while many of us think of bullying to be a thing sectioned off for childhood, there is plenty of it going on in workplaces. Bullying can take many forms from physical to verbal to isolation and it is always a coin toss to say which is more detrimental to a person. In this survey it became clear, for the most part, that almost everyone had suffered (or is still under such strain) under someone’s hand and it is not something easily forgotten.

I was a standard victim in junior high, but I was sensitive and took it very personally which caused problems later on.

I was picked on quite a bit from when I first started school on, and am still picked on now.

I was mostly ignored and excluded in school more than bullied.

People who were willing to share their kinkiest fantasies, their shocking misdeeds, their heartbreaking sorrows, and their darkest fears in great detail but would give one line answers when it came to being bullied. Even the safety of anonymity prevented many people from sharing their experiences which shows how powerfully it effects some. When people did bring up their stories they were usually painful and almost everyone who was bullied had a sense of shame about telling the story. This coupled with the number of people shows there is an extreme stigma not only about being bullied but even talking about it. This victim’s shame keeps things instead bottle up inside them. While bullying leads to anger management problems, low self esteem, depression, isolation, and all other sorts of physiological damage, keeping such feelings bottled up inside surely aggravates them. Also the few people who admitted to bullying others were just as silent on the whole matter. They would off handily mention that they did it and then say no more. But that sort of guilt is much more understandable.

I was picked on for being a nerd. . . . Frequently, groups of girls I’d never met would walk up to me, say “see that girl? SHE LIKES YOU!” before indicating a friend of theirs whom they were teasing and then bursting into laughter like the notion of a girl liking me was the funniest goddamn thing in the world . . . .

I was teased pretty much throughout my entire school career. . . . Starting in middle school I was sexually harassed by a group of boys who were spreading rumors that my best friend and I were lesbians . . . and the principals we complained to didn’t do anything about it.

I was smaller than most and kind of scrawny growing up, so I got bullied a bit until the late years of high school when I started getting bigger. I also was a bit of an outcast when it came to social standing, so that didn’t help any.

While many people listed varying degrees of being bullied ranging from quite severe to only minor isolated instances, the thoroughness of their accounts was given sparingly. For the most part people were reluctant to go into details about their experiences in this instance, sometimes in lieu of the fact they elaborated extensively in other parts of the survey. Many answered with a simple “Yes.” Perhaps the other things we may not tell the whole world about don’t sit on the same level of humiliation, helplessness, or erosion of confidence as bullying does for many people. There are multiple ways people are bullied so it is unclear what kind was most prevalent. Though many of the group mentioned their “looks” to be a factor. And while slowly over the course of reading through our participants survey’s we came to understand their personalities, it doesn’t really give you a direct line in many cases as to why people become victims. Or perhaps it didn’t give us a direct link to who they became later on.

It did a lot for my confidence I’ll tell you because I have absolutely none.

I had a bad temper, so kids found me to be a wonderful target, but I always got the feeling that even if it didn’t bother me they’d still do it.

I was picked on for much of elementary and middle school to the point of being beaten up fairly regularly. I wound up learning some martial arts to defend myself.

I am very surprised that whenever someone mentioned bullying they mentioned being bullied at school. I am sure that people who took the survey also got bullied by siblings, coworkers, customers, and a variety of other people but for one reason or another people, including myself, associate school with bulling more than anywhere else. I suppose that when siblings bully us it is seen as part of life unless they are particularly horrific about it. When you are at work it is seen as more of being lower on the food chain. But cruelty by follow students at school sticks out in our memories more than any other type of bullying. We are at our most emotionally and mentally vulnerable so any and all traumas are more severe because we have not yet developed all the tools to deal with such abuse.

Being bullied can taint your views of school and for some, maybe for many, it doesn’t make you long for childhood days gone by. But that doesn’t mean that everyone handled their situations the same. For some being bullied caused them to get angry, for others it sent them into depression, some in turn bullied others, and still others said they learned to turn the other cheek to such things. With all of these varying reactions it becomes clearer that being bullied doesn’t take its lead from your personality. For some it made them work harder to achieve, to prove themselves, and for others it left them feeling hurt and reduced their confidence to nil. Even the people that bullied, expressed remorse and guilt for their actions. Looking years after, you can see how it shaped each individual.

I became quite vindictive towards my tormentors and bystanders eventually.

At the time, I thought of it as friendly gestures, but now I’m very sure I bullied him.

I think this question more than many others showed a limitation to this form of doing the Otaku Diaries. While the email gave the participants both anonymity and good deal of time to answer lots of questions it also meant we were not able to ask follow up questions. Had we been face to face with many of the participants we would have asked for more detail about being bullied. I would have liked to hear a little more from the people who bullied other people, too. One or two people mentioned that since they were bullied they would never bully anyone else but almost anyone who was a bully had been bullied as well. But the information we got was quite illuminating on its own. It show us an ugly and tragic fact of most of our participants lives. But it was a universal hurdle that the majority had to face at one point of another.

Some take bullying very seriously, and some shrug it off as a the way of the world. Everyone in the survey had their own ideas about what it meant to them. What happens to us is just as important as how we move on from it (or if we ever do). This is certainly a fascinating topic that could have a survey all its own. More importantly, in connection with this survey is that the geek being bullied factor is a very real piece of growing up. Even if you weren’t bullied or did any bullying, you probably saw it happen. This is just one more important connection found between so many people sharing common hobbies.

Look for a new Otaku Diaries Post
the first Monday of every month!

6 thoughts on “Otaku Diaries Part 3: Sticks, stones, AND words can hurt you!

  1. Carl says:

    I was interested in the “see that girl? SHE LIKES YOU!” case (#0019), since–as you may have noticed ^_^–many manga and anime actually revolve around such a relationship, where one person is bullied by the other, both mentally and physically. The essential difference is that it turns out (and the audience understands early on) that the other person actually DOES like the protagonist. Is tsundere popular in part because of a wish that bullying, since it happened anyway, somehow could lead to a happy instead of a sad end? As #0094’s post implies, bullying is at least a form of social interaction, a relationship, and is different from being excluded or not noticed, which carries its own set of problems.

  2. TP says:

    I’ve been through such times, and it was (on hindsight) not as bad as I thought it would be at that time.

    If my short-term memory serves right, I think the oft-hyped manga, Onani Master Kurosawa, illustrates elements of bullying very well. Consider the protagonist’s stoic approach towards the middle of the end of the story, when the bullying roles are reversed. I think it’s what most people will have to live with eventually.

    I recall a CSI (Las Vegas) episode, of which a particular person goes on a rampage and kills all the “jocks” and popular girls in the school. One line made by Grissom perfected the notion of bullying in school: “You know, Miss Barrett as difficult as high school can be for kids,
    eventually, it’s over…” –CSI Season 2, Episode 4: “Bully For You”

    BTW, (since statute of limitations means I can relive my tales during my secondary school days) I do experience my fair share of bullying and being bullied (I fall for the “Both” category). In short, I do get visits to the school counsellor for countless number of times, listening to her pedantic discourse of Freudian notions of “analism” and “Oedipus Complex.”

  3. digitalboy says:

    I was one of the participants here, and if I didn’t say much, it may have been because I take bullying to be so common and well-known that I think everyone pretty much gets the idea of how you were bullied. And school really is the place where mos tof my bullying happened, except some neighborhood events early in life.

    But since you said you were interested, I have something for ya! Check out this post I once did on my history of being bullied and what I think of it as a plot device! http://fuzakenna.com/2009/02/05/on-bullying-in-anime/

  4. viga says:

    For those who did bully and was bullied, maybe they wanted to know how it felt. Imagine being so powerless and having a chance to feel powerful.

    People like to control things. Not all people, but a lot. The bystanders and instigators get a show.

    Power, entertainment, insecurity. All reasons for bullies.

    Too bad not everyone can have a revenge of the nerds moment.

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