Bullying behavior exposed for what it is…ridiculous

My teen daughter and I were bantering back and forth yesterday while we were in CVS , mostly I was teasing her, and she told me at a certain point I was being irritating. I misspoke as I responded with mock disbelief, ” I’m irritaining?”

Of course, I ran with that, I was being irritaining. Cool. I was irritating her and entertaining myself.

So I thought about it more today and it occurred to me that the words ‘bullying’ and “teasing” might perpetuate themselves because they freeze us into thinking of two players, a victim and a perpetrator. Calling someone a bully always presumes that someone has been wronged.

I hope you are following me so far. I hope so, because this is going to be good.

So what about using  a word that doesn’t imply that there is a victim, like    




 If you are being irritaining or aggrataining, it is something you are doing to yourself, not me. You are intending to aggravate or irritate for the purpose of entertaining yourself. Victims make the mistake of thinking that the bullying is about them and they personalize it, when it is really all about the bully looking for some cheap thrills.

Something like masturbating – you do it to yourself and for yourself. Only difference is that irritaining  is a public behavior. At least one other person has to  be a witness. Masturbation can be public too but fortunately it doesn’t have to be to be effective for most of us…circle jerks nonwithstanding.

So there you have it. I have solved the bullying problem 😉 If we change terminology bullies are going to start to look like public masturbators, right?

Before you dismiss that notion, consider this:

The method of using ridicule to eliminate a behavior that violates ethics but is accepted by the culture has a lot of precedent. See The Honor Code by Kwame Anthony Appiah. Slavery, foot binding in china, and dueling were all practices that were accepted  in their time as normal and necessary. We look back and cringe, but Mr. Appiah explains how honor codes developed around these practices, and how their absurdity only came out when a critical mass of people began to point out that the emperor has no clothes.   A lot of people knew these practices were wrong, but it was only when people began  to ridicule them that they were abandoned.

The naked emperor,  in this case, is the bully. He or she  is publicly masturbating, and we can start to point it out.  Coining some new terms like irritainer might be a start.   Bullying behavior, after all,  has an obscene feel to it,  like public masturbation would.

So give it whirl. Just don’t have too much fun doing it or you will become an irritainer yourself.


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