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Bullies: How You Treat People = WHO YOU ARE

For your reading pleasure today, we have a rant for and about BULLIES. Specifically, adult bullies who need to know better.

bullying-culture-problem-bullies
Image via thinkinclusive.us

I’m incensed after reading an article about disgusting trollery cropping up among Ontario doctors, targeting other doctors with whom they disagree on their internal politics. Click on over if you’d like to bear witness to some truly heinous behaviour, some even with screen-capture as proof.

Why should I care about infighting among doctors? Is it even my business?

Yes, it is, and I should. And so should you. Because: we are a better species than this.

Not too long ago, I wrote about How Not To Be A Douchebag, prompted by some similarly obnoxious incidents perpetrated by a different swath of people. I feel pretty certain that the post was read only by non-douchebags, since this blog’s readership is traditionally a small number of lovely, civilized people.

Now, here I am again. It seems I need to look at a greater problem: not just your run-of-the-mill jerks, but highly educated expert jerks on the public payroll.

I’m upset about the doctor thing for several reasons:

  1. Doctors go through many, many years of school, and work with (and for) a wide variety of humans, with the goal of doing no harm. In this province, they even do specific training for empathy. How can you go through all that and still feel entitled to stab your colleagues in the back?
  2. The nature of a doctor’s job is extremely intimate and sensitive. If online bullying is acceptable practice to you, what other shockingly inappropriate actions are you justifying to yourself?
  3. I’m a teacher, one of those professions people LOVE to bully. I’ve learned first-hand that no matter how divisive an issue is, it is possible to have a respectful conversation. (3.b And that no matter how crucial or legitimate an issue is, there will be people who feel qualified to forego critical thought and spew crap all over it.)
  4. As with any profession, most doctors are doing their best to do a good job and be good people. When something like this blows up, it dishonours all of them. A big shame-paintbrush like this gets an awful lot of people messy.
  5. Although this current news piece will no doubt shortly fade from the public consciousness, it is not an isolated problem. The article states that abuse and bullying have been going on in the medical community for decades.

I guess that should be no surprise. Every field has its assholes. It’s just that there’s this thing called “Professionalism.” Medicine is one of the most highly-regarded professional fields in the world. Therefore, to be part of it, you are expected to be professional. (That part ain’t brain surgery, people.)

The biggest reason I’m mad at the doctor-bullies today is that, despite the brains and hard work required for them to be where they are, they have somehow skipped the lesson you’re supposed to learn in kindergarten, or even younger: BE KIND. In translation, this also means DON’T BE A JERK.

As both a teacher and a parent, I spend a lot of my life trying to help people under the age of twelve understand what it is to be a good person. There are millions of other teachers and parents out there doing the same thing.

And it is constant work, an endless slog. Kids are often mean to each other, both by accident and on purpose. It’s normal, a developmental process – but that’s not to say it’s okay. We don’t just let it slide. When we teach kids about treating other people as they’d like to be treated, we are explicitly instructing them in skills like empathy, politeness, advocacy, and rational conversation.

We discuss manners, even down to tone of voice. We talk about mediation and listening. We make it clear that it’s not acceptable to deliberately hurt other people, whether in person or online. It’s okay to disagree, it’s okay to express anger, but it’s not okay to be mean about it.

I often ask kids who are being mean to someone, “Are you a mean person?” They almost never believe themselves to be mean people. They must be reminded that if you do mean things, that makes you a mean person. You are what you do.

These are young children. Of course we have to help them learn these things. Part of developing as a human is to learn how to be what we intend. We all need help and reminders.

But really, is there any excuse at all for being a medical doctor who still calls people awful names? When can we expect adults to grow up, if not by this point in life? When might we expect one to dislodge one’s cranium from one’s anus?

Once more, with feeling: if you act hateful to people, that’s you. Being a hateful person.

Is that the person you meant to be?

To be honest, I’m not just talking about the field of medicine. My ire is directed at all the bullies, trolls, harassers, and intimidators who fall into the category of “adults.” It is TIME TO SHAPE UP. Can’t you see that the rest of us are working here?? That we are toiling every single day to be and teach examples of treating others with compassion and respect, and that you are unraveling our carefully-crafted lessons? In other words, in case you need some more familiar terminology, you are f*cking it up.

If you think children don’t notice your bad behaviour, you couldn’t be more wrong. They are all over the internet, seeing all kinds of things you didn’t intend them to see. They hear the words you say aloud and they see the way you treat people. Unless you live by yourself in a remote cave (without internet access), you are setting examples every day.

I’m not saying you have to be perfect. We all lose our temper sometimes. Most of us occasionally say things we regret, in the heat of the moment. But when it comes to online harassment, you have no “heat of the moment” defense. You deliberately typed every ugly word you used.

I don’t care how upset you are: as an ostensible grown-up, you need to express your anger in a mature and productive way.

I also don’t care how excellent you are at your job, or how prestigious your career is; it does not make you a superior human.

I have always been mystified by those who think it’s okay to treat others cruelly. And I don’t know why, but many people seem to think the internet is the place to give voice to their most repulsive selves. I have heard of and witnessed far too many examples of this recently. Full-grown people behaving more obnoxiously – and immaturely – than the worst schoolyard bullies. Feeling no need for reflection or self-examination, and no need to consider their actual audience.

That’s the thing even the most educated trolls seem – conveniently, and incredibly – to forget: the audience is real. Would you really call your co-worker a c*nt – to her face, in a roomful of your colleagues? Would you stand up in the staff lounge and announce that so-and-so should eat sh*t? Because that’s what a closed forum is.

And if you’re on a public comment forum, you’re essentially onstage. Picture yourself and your target sharing the spotlight in a grand auditorium filled with unseen crowds – they’re there, they’re listening, and you’ve taken the mike. What would you really say?

It worries me that so many bullies have been validated by the recently-elected American Prince of the Douche-Trolls. If you look at him and think admiringly, He has no filter and he’s proud of it! He stands for free tweets speech! That’s what the new era looks like!, please know that this is bullshit. He is not “telling it like it is.” He proudly embodies a lack of self-regulation, combined with a pitiable need for attention and the cowardice to choose the internet as his preferred medium.

You know the old saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will leave emotional scars that will affect my relationships and mental health for the rest of my life.”

Words are profoundly important. Especially online, we have the time and experience to make something of our words, to use their power to move our society forward. We have a responsibility to consider the words we use, and to make them reflect who we are.

You’re really going to pick those shabby, disgraceful words to express disagreement? You think they will make your point?

Actually, the most salient point you make, with words like those, is about you.

If you call yourself an adult and have not yet figured out how to disagree without being abusive, then you are an embarrassment to your peers. You should be ashamed of yourself. It’s time to join the civilized world and fix this.

Please and thank you.

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Dear Kids: For the record, you adore each other.

Our kids are like most siblings: they play together, and they fight together. Sometimes, the screaming is pretty horrifying. And then there are those moments – and those little games and traditions they invent – that warm you right down through to the sub-cockle area of your heart.

{For example, there’s this one funny procedure whenever I give them their vitamins. They have fish-shaped ones and Disney-character-shaped ones – please don’t judge us – and they MUST discuss them every time. They announce the colours they received, and what characters, and what order they eat them in. And then they put up their thumbs in different positions depending on whether their vitamins match or not. I don’t know why or how this came about, but they’re both VERY attached to the ritual.}

Last evening, there was a lot more good and happy play than screaming. (Which I really needed, after three weeks in a row of my Hubbibi on evening shifts.) At one point, they were sitting amicably together in the guest room, having constructed a barrier so each could not see what the other was drawing.

Turns out E was making a present for AB. The next morning there was a note in the advent calendar pocket, which completely turned around a morning that had promised to be very grumpy on her part:

note-to-sister
look in the guest room and you will find a present there

And it led her to this lovely festive drawing…

childrens-christmas-art
Bells are ringing!

And THIS was on the other side.

love-note-from-brother
I can’t even.

I got a bit teary-eyed and all squeezy and kissy with that boy when he showed me. (Which he doesn’t mind as he is a squeezy, kissy type himself. They’re both very affectionate, even with each other, to the point that staff members at their school stop to watch their sweet little goodbyes in the mornings as a pick-me-up.)

And since we’re looking a wee masterpieces, here’s what AB was drawing at the same time.

christmas-drawing
Sort of looks like an underwater scene… But it’s a holiday scene!

The spidery things are suns, and the phallic green-and-brown thing is a Christmas tree (obvs), and the little brown guy is a reindeer, and the swoopy line is a sleigh, and the black dots are buttons on a (non-visible) snowman, and there are also a few flowers and stars sprinkled in there.

So, kids, if you’re reading this and you’ve reached that phase of your lives (because we have to assume it will arrive eventually) where each of you annoys the other ALL THE TIME, please just know that you truly love one another deep down, and you’re a sublime little team when you need to be. We love you kajillions.

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Nerdy Mom Plays With Kids’ Toys, Vol. 5: Animal Affinities

Nerdy Mom’s back. ALL RIGHT. [insert classic ’90s hip-hop moves]

pocahontas-lizards
Pocahontas paints with all the colours of the wind, and also hikes with all the lizards of the rocks. She summons them with a single glance.

 

holly-hobby-frogs
Holly Hobby has similar powers with frogs, but realizes that she is too small to corral them properly. She uses her pinchy arms with her handy-dandy kusarigama to keep the situation under control. (I’m pretty sure her technique is all wrong, but the poor gal only has one way to grip.)

 

ravage-transformer-fairy
Lilliana knows the truth about Ravage: he may transform into a badass cassette tape, but underneath his robo-bilities, he’s just an old sweetie who only wants his jowls rubbed.

 

koodo-el-tabador-monkeys
Betcha didn’t know that when he’s done his shifts at Koodo, El Tabador moonlights as a monkey wrangler.

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Antique Children’s Book, Part 3: Kangaroo, Elephant, and Pig

I know, the last instalment was kind of intense… Not as whimsical as they look, these Animal Cutes. I’m afraid Part 3 also contains some sinister activities.

antique-childrens-book-kangaroo
Miss KANGAROO goes hopping around, At very fast speed, with a leap and a bound.

Poor Miss K. Look at her face. She is clearly fleeing in terror. My sleuthing tells me that the backwards K on her shirt symbolizes, in baseball, “a strikeout looking (where the batter does not swing at a pitch that the umpire then calls strike three).” My guess is that she’s just lost her team a game – and that there was some big money riding on it. Or whatever the kangaroos use as currency. She’s hoping to make it to the Canadian border by nightfall.

antique-childrens-book-elephant
This BABY ELEPHANT will grow no thinner, So long as he has milk for dinner.

This one chills me right to the bone. Sweet, innocent Baby Elephant, so big-eyed he could be the Gerber Elephant. He’s just drinking what he’s given, even though it is not his mama’s milk. By the time his free sample formula supply runs out, mama’s milk will have dried up. At that point, we just hope the family can afford to pay for more. We know who’s responsible: NESTLÉ. Re-read that caption and you’ll see it’s actually a threat. (And yes, Nestlé has been around more than long enough to be an antique – 150 years, actually.)

antique-childrens-book-pig
Miss Wiggledy PIG goes shopping every day, To Pigville store, she takes her cash to pay.

She’s wiggledy for a reason: simple case of shopaholism. Pigville store employees know her well. She obviously loves to accessorize. At least we know she’s paying in cash, so she’s not running up lots of credit card debt. Here’s hoping she bet on the winning kangaroo baseball team, to finance her proclivities. (Or maybe the winning team was the wombats – I’m sure they’d be great at baseball.)

I know what you’re thinking: Dilovely, you’ve gone beyond nerdy. Now you’re downright eccentric. Not to mention dark and morbid.

Touché.

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Antique Children’s Book, Part 1: Kitty, Polly Parrot, and Cubby Bear

We’re taking a break from Nerdy Mom for today, to introduce you to the Antique Children’s Book my parents found among their inherited things. It is surmised to be a book that belonged to my mom’s dad when he was a child, so it’s getting on towards a hundred years old. And it’s more than a hundred percent bizarre.

This is the title: Animal Cutes.

antique children's animal book
Animal Cutes, for the animal at heart.

They can’t say “Cute Animals” because I’m afraid these animals just are not. That’s in spite of the eye roll I’m sure this kitty thought would be enchanting, along with its darling checkered jacket and blue bow. Then again, perhaps that bow is just tied way too tight, and this is actually a portrait of asphyxiation. Kinda like flowery children’s songs that are actually about the plague.

antique children's animal book parrot
Pretty Polly PARROT, perched at rest, Says “Hurry up and bring me my breakfast.”

This parrot looks jolly Scottish in the tam-o’-shanter and vest, but as above, I’m not sure “pretty” is in the cards for Polly. “Haggard” and “oppressed” come to mind more easily. She’s out of her cage but still chained to her perch, waiting for the right moment to snap that chain with her beak and make her getaway. “Breakfast” is the code word. It’s too bad she was ill-advised on the outfit, since Scots parrots are incongruous in any crowd.

antique children's book cubby bear
Cubby BEAR, all dressed in colors gay, Goes to Cubtown, in the woods, to play.

Okay, maybe Cubby is kinda cute. Those cheerful honeybee stripes… the festive tambourine… The look that says, “Bye, Mom! I’m off to the woods, nothing but gaily gadding about!” Mama Bear thinks it’s a picnic. Little does she know that Cubtown is a cult, and they’ve just set the forest on fire. And you don’t want to know what they do with those tambourines.

Turns out I’m still nerdy. Whadaya know. NaBloPoMo Day 7, signing off.

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Nerdy Mom Plays With Kids’ Toys, Vol. 1

If you’re a Di-hard, you already know that I have nerdy tendencies. You know that I have young children. Sometimes when you spend the majority of your time with kids, your perspective warps a bit.

This was bound to happen. NaBloPoMo Day 3.

amazing-world-animals
Stand together, multicoloured people and creatures of the world! You are beautiful.

 

batman-mini-me
Someday they will end up in the Batmobile together and all pretense of safety will be abandoned, but for now, Batman and Mini-Me are quite careful crossing the street.

 

aurora-sleeping-beauty-snake
Things you never knew about Aurora: she’s a Parselmouth.

More to come!

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Happy Spring?

Hi lovelies,

It’s spring! Ha ha. Here in our city, we’ve had over 20 cm of snow this week. A few nights ago, we had a cozy wood fire in our fireplace (it’s finally drawing properly!), which was great but distinctly un-springy. ‘Twas the weather Christmas forgot to have. And then today… it was just muck falling from the sky.

Since the official start of spring, it has been weird around here. The weather is only part of it; poor E also got sick over Easter weekend with what I think was probably the flu – but it knocked him out for the better part of six days, which is very unusual for him. He slept so much that I barely saw him, and hardly ate a thing. He’s normally a pale kid, but he became positively ghostly.

This past season has been brutal for sickness, at least in our area. Teachers and students have been absent in what I’m sure are record numbers, and not just with the usual colds and stomach bugs. Lots of strep throat and pneumonia.

Between the maladies and the weather, I get a rather apocalyptic feeling. As if someday, the further-evolved survivors of our species will look back on this time period and shake their heads, intoning sorrowfully, “Hardly any of them saw it coming… They tried to warn the others, but nobody would listen…”

I know, I’m a ball of sunshine. Presumptuously morose for someone who hasn’t written anything worth posting in more than a month.

tiny pig
This should do it.

Okay. Let’s lighten it up with some gratitude. Inspired by my friend H who is blogging happiness this year.

I’m currently grateful for:

  • E being back to normal, finally;
  • the school board-wide shutdown (due to ice!) on the first day E was sick so I could stay home with him;
  • my sisters and parents who have all helped so much where child care is concerned, especially in recent months;
  • my cat remembering (again) where he’s supposed to do his business;
  • having thoroughly cleaned and organized the basement rec room over the March break – it’s now so much easier to tidy up and SO much more fun to play in;
  • our “new” house slowly but surely becoming easier to live in as we organize, donate, and (re)arrange;
  • the springy weather we have had so far – because there were (once upon a time) some beautiful days that keep a body going even when the polar vortex follows;
  • gradually developing more productive habits – Sean and I are finally using our charts! Kind of… well, we are getting there;
  • getting ready for a family reunion in less than two weeks!!
  • AB bringing up the topic of gratitude at the dinner table the other night, asking if we could “play that game” where we tell each other what we “love about”;
  • my dear friend Skye who always notices when I’m not blogging and gently kicks my butt because she knows (better than I do, apparently) that it’s important.

So. You haven’t read the last of me. Thanks, as always, for reading. xoxo

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