Whenever the issue of bullying is brought up, we generally think of it as prevalent at the grade school level, not at young adulthood. We’re supposed to be past that, right? As adults in college, we are supposed to be all for equality — we are striving for inclusion of everyone regardless of ethnicity, race, sexual preferences, gender, etc.
But I have to wonder, is bullying still happening at the collegiate level?
In college, we are in pursuit of many things. We scurry around in search of good grades, parties, sex, companionship. But I think that the thing we strive for most is acceptance by our peers.
A good argument could be made for that case — it’s uncomfortable to know that there are people out there that really don’t like you. Ultimately, we are constantly in search of acceptance, and when we don’t find that acceptance, we search elsewhere for it.
When we think of bullying, it’s usually of the schoolyard taunts that we all have seen or experienced as kids. The bully is usually depicted as an abnormally large child with anger issues. The victim is seen as a small, helpless kid who constantly gets his or her glasses smashed or his or her lunchbox thrown out the window. And yes, that still happens to grade school kids.
However, that’s not the only form of bullying that we have to contend with. With the new age of technology, there has come a new age of cyber-bullying, which in a lot of ways is worse. On one hand, if you’re typing your taunts there is tangible evidence to point to that isn’t in the form of bruises. On the other, everyone seems to find themselves invincible behind the safety net of a computer screen.
Admit it, there are things that you have thought about saying online that you would never consider saying to that person’s face.
And bullying doesn’t just occur in the form of taunts either — one could argue that exclusion is its own form of persecution. If you have a good group of friends, you may have a propensity toward being suspicious of those infringing on your inner circle. Take a look at Greek life: with the exception of Greek week and fundraisers, they’re pretty exclusive. If you are not a part of that frat or sorority and surrounded by them, it’s almost impossible to feel included.
We can even get exclusive in our majors: we view certain levels of expertise as more valid than others, and make it known if we don’t approve of what they’re getting their degree in. Science undergrads rarely fraternize with philosophy majors, and vice versa.
So in those instances of exclusion, are we being bullies toward those that are not like us?
Birds of a feather flock together, sure, but in our search of looking for people that we have commonalities with we may be inadvertently making it known to others that they are not like us, and therefore they are not welcome to be a part of our lives.
We may think that we are past those schoolyard taunts, but we could be bullies of a completely different color.
And this doesn’t just apply to college students –– bullying is a definite part of the workplace. When we’re done with school and we have our established careers, we are going to see employees that are on the fringes of everything.
If you’re not a part of the “in-crowd,” even in the workplace, you are going to be treated as inferior. If you’re a stellar employee, you’re likely to be viewed as a brown-noser and your coworkers are not likely to take kindly to that. On the other hand, if you slack off and your co-workers have to pick up the slack, they’re not going to be appreciative of that either.
In our search for acceptance, we have become exclusive to those that are not like us. We may think that we have matured, and with that maturity has come acceptance of those different from ourselves.
We have become unaccepting to those that don’t share in parts of our likeness that we deem important. However, acceptance and inclusivity are far from mutually exclusive. We can accept someone without including them in our lives.