When we think about school bullies, we'd prefer to think of those exaggerated, cartoonish types we see in movies and television shows. It's more comfortable to keep that reality at arm's length.
But despite our best efforts to turn our heads, bullying is a very real piece of every school environment there is. It has been for years, and it still is, albeit now through the amplified means of social media and the internet.
A recent group of Redditors took a moment to acknowledge those realities.
This thread, however, was not written by the victims. These were the bullies themselves, the perpetrators who discovered just how brutal they'd been back in their school days.
They, more than anybody, would prefer to find a definition of "bully" that doesn't apply to their past actions.
But alas, we must honor reality.
Some former bullies described how subtle the transition from bystander to bully was. For them, bullying was the result of peer pressure, and even took on a protective nature.
Great Jokes, or Cruelty?
"Thought I was funny. Liked making people laugh at others expense. I never thought about their feelings until I was much older."
"Now I tell my kids every day before school to be kind and every ones friend, and to stand up for people. I want them to be good humans."
It's a good thing you've learned! Your kids will thank you.
Climbing Up An Ugly Ladder
"I was bullied a lot at school. At summer camp, there were one or two others who had it worse than me, and it felt good to finally not be on the bottom rung."
"Didn't take me too long to see what I was doing, and I started to feel bad."
Your conscience wouldn't let you proceed. That says a lot about you.
A Tinged Past
"I assisted in bullying so I wouldn't be bullied too. It's one of my biggest regrets in life. Such weakness" -- Zeliv
"Yeah at least 3/4 of the bullies in a 'pack of bullies' are just doing it because they're glad they're not the victim and they just haven't realized that no one should have to be the victim." -- JeromesDream
Many students bully because they themselves are bullied. It's a common defense mechanism.
Others acknowledged that their own abusive behavior mirrored what they encountered at home and their private, family lives.
This was a common dynamic.
"One of my many bullies messaged me on FB about 15 years later to apologize and said she did it because her older brothers were mean to her."
"A lot of bullies are abused at home."
This is absolutely true. Children learn how to act from the adults around them.
Passing the Baton
"I was a bully in like 3rd-4th grades. And it was absolutely because my home life was sh**, so I visited that sh** on others. But then I knocked over a Kindergartner, making his nose bleed really bad and he started crying."
"Nothing snaps you out of being an a-hole faster than hearing a little kid sobbing for his mommy."
Yeah, that would get to me, too. You see? Being a bully is not worth it.
Surveying Cause and Effect
"I used to bully people for attention and got so hated by people around me that I finally tried to figure out why I had no friends and then it hit me that I was rude and annoying to everyone around me."
"Both my parents are alcoholics so they just ignored me constantly and the teachers would only give me their attention when I was bad, I just deeply wanted the adults around me to care."
"I'm now 19 and I have been going out of my way to be as kind to everyone as possible and I have moved out of my sh*tty parents house so I'm now the happiest I have been in my life, I'm also studying to become an allied health care professional."
"But the thought that I have hurt so many people's feelings and made them feel bad will always haunt me and I hope those people are doing well in their lives."
You're a good soul. Keep putting that kindness out into the world!
Confrontation Can Be Helpful
"My brothers bullied me at home and my parents did nothing about it. I started thinking that it was how you show you like someone."
"People didn't see it that way and straight up told me I was a bad person and they're afraid of me. That made me understand my behaviour."
Finally, a few people used the thread as a platform to share their own views on bullying in general. Some were professionals, some unfortunately had direct experience.
They discussed what leads to and comes out of these actions.
A Biased List
"I work in child safety and interview a lot of current and former bullies. You're probably not going to get honest answers out of the worst bullies."
"The people on the fringes, the ones who were bad but not awful, are going to reply. They can often reflect on it - they were abused at home, bullied by others, or just angry at the world for other reasons."
"The genuine bullies, the super cruel girls or boys almost never recognize how bad their bullying was. Either they were so deeply traumatized by other stuff that was going on (more intense violence at home) that their memories just aren't there, or worse, they don't think they were bullies. They are still bullies."
Stopping the Cycle
"I never realized it until years later multiple people told me what an a**hole I was and how hard I made life for them. When I started to look back I realized it and feel terrible. Still think about them most days and wish I wasn't that way."
"I am actually good friends with a lot of them now and they still don't let it slide. I guess the best I can do is to really preach how wrong it is to my kids and how people will forever remember how you treat them, even if you are a kid."
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
"Reading this thread, it seems there are no 'real bullies' in the world, only 'not a bully but I bullied' bullies." -- MHeraclea
"Yeah lots of cop out answers. I might be biased since I was bullied horribly in elementary school, and middle school as well. Elementary school was mostly being bullied on the bus, middle school was more emotional/gossip oriented bullying." -- jupiter_sunstone
So whether you were the bully or the bullied, take this thread as a reminder that if you have a hunch, you're probably right. It helps no one to downplay what happened back when you were young.
But you can learn from it all even now.
Want to "know" more?
Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again.
Why do bullies bully? More importantly... how do we get bullies to back off?
Can we just use words? Does it always have to resort to violence?
There is no reason in this world for anyone to be a bully. It's all about power and self worth.
The bully has none and it's all they want.
RedditorYaboi2tallwanted to hear about how bullies can be stopped.
"How did you get a high school bully to never mess with you again?"
I swung on my bully, with a pencil. Never had an issue again.
"Vomited all over him. After that he never messed with me again."
Linklee2Throw Up Season 2 GIF by Amazon Prime VideoGiphy
"A group of sociopaths from my school that always tormented us followed me and my friends to my house one day in a pick up truck. They stole my friends shoes, pushed one of them until she fell, and took my sketchpad and threw it in a puddle. My stepbrother came outside, beat one of them badly, stole his pants, and threw his keys into a sewer grave before hitting him with an empty vodka bottle. It was traumatizing for me on both ends, but that group of kids never even looked at us again."
"He tried to shove me down an embankment while on a field trip. Had I fallen, I would have broken my leg or worse, because the embankment ended about 25 feet down, then dropped off into some deep brush and trees. Anyhow, my best friend was next to me, and said 'Watch it!' as he came at me."
"I side-stepped him, and he tumbled down the embankment and over the edge into the brush. Fractured several ribs, dislocated his shoulder and broke his ankle. He never did anything to me again. F**k you Darren! You b**ch!"
"She told me, my face made her want to kill herself. So I told the school counselor that she had confided in me she wanted to kill herself. She had to explain to the everyone what she really said. She would call me fat, and ugly everyday. She also would tell me I was trash because I was adopted. 'Your own mother thought you were so ugly she didn't want you.'"
"Made friends in the football team. Bullies think twice when you are buddies with a 6'2 250 pound Samoan. Crazy how nice so many Samoans are."
Large-Statistician-3serie a football GIF by U.S. Sassuolo CalcioGiphy
I do like Football players. I knew they'd good for something.
"I was bullied for my wheelchair, so I ran their feet over."
"Fast and furious."
Sigmrpaul walker family GIFGiphy
"A bully was harassing my daughter on the bus. Instead of calling his folks, or jumping on him, I did this…"
"I pulled him aside at the bus stop one day and asked for his help. “Hey Danny. I was hoping you could help me out. I guess there’s a kid on the bus who is picking on my daughter. She’s a girl and small and I’d like for you to help protect her. If you see anything like that, could you stick up for her please and let me know about it.'" That was the end of the bullying."
"Pretty much the same. Stopped associating with our mutual friends when I realized they're not my friends if they're friends with a bully like this person and ever since we graduated, and I've been out of that social bubble, it's just was over."
"Not a bully per se, but a d**k." In my French class a guy who sat behind me would always kick my chair repeatedly, and I was at the point where I was visibly infuriated by this happening every lesson. The girl who sat next to me turned to him and said 'Hey, you should probably stop doing that, he looks like he's about to hit you.'"
"Guy laughed it off and said I wouldn't. I didn't, but I turned around and cocked my arm back. He was leaning back on the hind legs of his chair with his feet on mine, so when I did this, he flinched, fell backwards off his chair, and got a few laughs from the people behind us. He never kicked my chair after that."
"Challenged him to a fight at lunch, left during the period before lunch to move 800 miles away."
undercoverhippieJosh Whitehouse Duel GIF by PoldarkGiphy
Sometimes all it takes is one good punch. Not that I'm advocating violence. But most bullies are just cowards.
As much as we love to have eyes for others, those eyes are witness to some yuck.
We are easily turned on by many things and people.
We're humans, humans are easy.
But turning off and shutting down is also easy.
And once we see certain things, they can never be unseen.
And so... we move on.
Let's make a list so people stay vigilant.
Redditorfiginjosejospewanted to hear about what makes us yell a big NO for some things.
"What is your biggest turn off?"
I am easily turned off. It's my one flaw. Anything can do it. Alas...
"When people smell bad. Hygiene is important."
ccherry124Violet Reaction GIF by Murdoch MysteriesGiphy
"One-uppers. Whatever you have done/seen or place you have gone, they have done it better."
"I struggle with this SO BADLY. I hear someone’s story and think 'I can relate! I’ve done XYZ' and tell the story. As soon as I see their facial expressions change I know they’ve taken it as me one upping. It’s so hard for me to relate without telling the story WHY I relate."
"Deception. Say what you freaking mean, and your actions must match your words."
"I don't know if this counts as deception but I have the hardest time verbalizing my thoughts in the way that I think them. So I say something that doesn't match my thoughts but it's like theres a disconnect in my brain that doesn't let me say what I want to say. I've had multiple tbi's from a young age but I don't know if that has any to do with it."
"When they constantly cut you off during a conversation."
"I noticed my bad habit of interrupting when I started dating my partner. I worked on it because it bothered him so much. Now when I'm around my family who I don't see often, I'm keenly aware of how bad we all are at it. Dinners, drinks, video calls are a literal cacophony of people talking over each other and having to repeat yourself because no one listens."
"Having been on this earth almost six decades, I can say this has definitely gotten worse over time. Now, you can see it getting worse by the year."
Cautious-Damage7575Blm Fight Me GIF by Holly LoganGiphy
I hate entitled people. Nobody is owed anything.
"When a person is rude or just behaves poorly and everyone around them says, 'that's just how he/she is.' No. There is no excuse for piss poor behavior."
Sarahkm90No Way Do Not Want GIF by Schitt's CreekGiphy
"Over sharing at social media."
"I had an ex who would straight up get pissed if I didn’t post about us on instagram or facebook back when I had it. Even if we just hung out and did nothing Lol. She got even more upset if I did post something and not include her... or if I got more likes than her."
"Social media has completely ruined our brains… it’s so sad to realize the damage that’s been done in such a short amount of time."
"Littering. I absolutely hate it when people litter just because 'there is no trashcan close' or 'Yeah, but everything here is anyway already dirty.' That makes me so annoyed and just ugh. I can understand that it's annoying to keep on holding onto trash but like... It's not that difficult."
"Open mouth chewer. Or any kind of lip smacking while eating."
"At a family reunion, I got seated in front of a woman I hadn't met before. Food gets there and we started loading ourselves up. I still remember what we had: tostadas."
"They're a flat baked or fried tortilla topped with pretty much whichever ingredients you want. Usually meat, some veg, cheese, cream, and salsa. This is relevant because half of that food ended up smeared on her face. I have never seen a grown a** adult eat like that. Open mouth chewing, with food actually spilling out as she ate."
"Loud, boisterous talking and laughing, with more, half chewed food spilling out everywhere. And napkins seemed to not be a thing for her because she never used one, making all the cream and salsa get stuck to her lips and cheeks. I was freaking disgusted, as was everyone around her. That was not a pleasant meal."
"Using phones every time we hang out."
"My wife has a friend that if you aren’t talking to her about only her, she zones out and just stares at her phone."
mofoofinventionphone glow GIF by jjjjjohnGiphy
When the turn is off. It's off. And that's all.
When trying to eat healthy you have to do research.
We have to be vigilant and read the labels.
Just because it says "healthy"... that means nothing.
That was just years of gaslighting.
Also, just because it says "diet" you can't have 10 of them.
RedditorJoltyJobwanted to dissect what's on the menu.
"What food do most people think is healthy but is actually unhealthy?"
I love fruit. But... some fruits are just sugar. Now they tell us.
"Can confirm this. I used to work there and most of the smoothies on the menu are made with frozen juice concentrate which was just liquid processed sugar and multiple scoops of sherbet. Not sorbet. Sherbet."
Coconut_LessJoseph Sikora Drinking GIF by PowerGiphy
"Naked smoothies/juices and flavored yogurt."
"Looking through the various yogurt's nutritional information while trying to find a good High-protein Greek Yogurt recently was very eye-opening. The majority of them were pretty much just softer ice cream."
"Some people think 'Gluten Free' means 'healthy.' Not automatically, it doesn't. This is NOT about people who MUST follow a GF diet."
"As someone with celiac disease it’s astounding how often I have to explain this to people. Gluten free diets are no healthier than regular diets. Gluten is just a single protein being omitted from your diet. The difference is you’re probably eating way less bread, or you’re just generally more anxious about eating so you might lose weight as a result."
"I'm shocked how many moms think Nutella is better than peanut butter."
"When it first came out in Australia they advertised it 'less fat than peanut butter' and 'less sugar than jam' so that sounds great..."
"Until you think about it, peanut butter is high in fat but low in sugar and jam is high in sugar and low in fat. So of course Nutella has less fat than peanut butter, it's got to make room for all the added sugar. And of course it has less sugar than jam, it's gotta make room for all that palm oil."
Same for apples...
"Granola bars. They're chocolate, oats and sugar for the most part. Oats can be healthy by themselves. But a granola bar is unhealthy due to all the sugar, chocolate and stuff along with them. Same for apples. Apples are healthy, apple pie, not healthy."
SinisterMeatballSnacking Hey Girl GIF by Nature ValleyGiphy
The truth about granola bars has been out there forever. Beware...
"That's because when I was kid the food pyramid posters were printed by the American grain council. They said we needed a couple of servings of both meat and vegetables and like 9 servings of bread and various grain products."
"Juice. Most packaged juices you get are super high in sugar."
"Ha. One of the reasons why I switched providers last year for my prenatal care was because the first one told me, in all seriousness, I needed to drink three cups of milk and two cups of juice per day. I was like, say what now???"
"Same with ketchup 25% of it is sugar."
Check the Bag
"This is actually a pretty good response. A surprising number of people didn't check the back of those packages to find that they're just Pringles that included a little bit of vegetable dust in the potato chip mix. People actually think they're just eating salty crispy vegetables."
"Anything 'natural' doesn’t immediately mean healthy. At least in the EU when a product is natural, it doesn’t need to go through all the testing that is required for other products. This doesn’t mean that the product is safe, as many natural products can be harmful."
"Panera Bread...healthy 'clean' ingredients. It's full of salt, sugar and processed crap."
Carrann82312. Panera for the Win!Giphy
Just because it says healthy or diet doesn't mean it's true. Lesson learned.
It's hard not to look back on history and be disgusted by a number of things which were at one point deemed acceptable, even not so long ago in the grand scheme of things.
The endless list includes segregation and women not having the right to vote.
We'd certainly like to think that we've come a long way.
But when we look back on how much we, as a culture, have evolved for the better, it also makes us stop and wonder what current customs or practices accepted in society today people twenty years from now will look back on in disgust.
This piqued the curiosity of RedditorSalt-Campaign6402,leading them to take to Reddit to ask:
"What modern day practice/ belief is most likely to be considered barbaric and outdated in the future?"
A revaluation of medical practices
"The way that f*cking speculum is shaped."- PopK0rnAndMMs
"Gynaecology procedures being done with out sedation or some type of proper numbing agent."- baconbutt96
The end of stigma
"The entire system surrounding mental health."- crapgarbage
More respect for the environment
"Deforestation hopefully."- CrumbledTheCookies
More sustainable materials
"Single use plastics."- Lemilli000000n
Improvements in wages and working hours
"Working long hours to the point of sleep deprivation and exhaustion."
"Right now people brag about it."- HonestlyPizza
"It's a scam made up by the rich to make the poor feel good about being exploited."- whythatusername
More humane treatment of animals
"Breeding dogs that can’t breathe."- username-alrdy-takn
Possible life saving advancements in science?
"I feel like organ transplants from strangers will seem bizarre in the future."
"I imagine we will be able to grow genetically-identical organs and use those instead."- thunderbiird1
Twenty years from now, we'll likely find ourselves relieved that some things have finally changed.
Then too, we might look back in horror at many things we wouldn't even take a second thought about at the time.