Bullies, WUMs (Wind-Up Merchants), and Other People Who Feel The Need to Make You Feel Shit About Yourself

The other day I had an interaction with someone who felt it very necessary to let me know that I was a shit human being. I indirectly confronted them, as I was not in the mood to directly deal with them. My choice may or may not have been the right one. According to this particular person, the way I chose to deal with them meant I was a sad attention seeker.

They are absolutely right. I am sad. Usually this is how I feel when I meet people who feel that it is their duty to make others feel like shit about themselves. But I am also sad because sadness is a natural feeling which comes with being human. Sometimes feeling sad opens a door that is shut when you are happy. The door which opened due to the sadness this particular person inspired, revealed a lot to me about myself, and for that I am grateful. We learn as much from those who test us by being bullies and tyrants, as we do from those who are angels and guardians of all that is good in us.

How I view myself, and how I relate to other people, is in need of a big change, but all changes come with much friction.

This person is also right that I am an attention seeker. I don’t see this as a bad thing at all. Seeking the attention of others is a natural human need. The need to connect, relate, and be a part of a tribe. Without it we feel as though we are unreal, non-existent, invisible, ghosts floating around for no reason at all. When people notice and acknowledge us, we feel our presence in the world. It makes us real, and it encourages us to participate. Which is why some people say that negative attention is better than no attention at all.

For many years I tried to avoid drawing attention to myself. Mostly because I was very bored, sick, and tired of having to explain myself and my life to other people, who not only didn’t understand me, but didn’t want to understand me. What they wanted to do was feel better about themselves by pointing out to me everything that was wrong with me, not to help me to improve myself, but to put me down to lift themselves up. Perhaps also hoping that I would kill myself, because then that would make them feel very powerful indeed.

I read an article about bullies and nastiness on the internet last night. It claimed that those who are confrontational online are usually not confrontational offline. They are making up for their offline weakness by being aggressive online, cloaked by anonymity. Not everything in this article was good, but that little tidbit of information was very thought-provoking.

I am fairly confrontational offline, often to my own detriment. I have a very short fuse. My anger is quick to flare up, but it is equally quick to die down. People very rarely mess with me in my offline life, unless they are seeking a fight to the death. Joking, sort of (Pluto in the 1st / Mars in Scorpio). I can be exceedingly stubborn at times.

Online I am a bit more placid. I shy away from directly attacking people I perceive to be attacking me. I tend to use more diplomatic and passive-aggresive tactics. Or, at least, I consider them to be diplomatic and passive. Partly because I don’t have enough information about where the other person is coming from, what their life is like, what problems they are facing, what demons are possessing them etc. And partly because I am relaxing when I am online.

I was unsettled by the encounter I had yesterday. I had a moment of wanting to wipe myself off the internet, but the moment passed, as it always does. I was frustrated, deflated, a bit depressed, which is what happens when my anger is suppressed. I held myself back. I bit my cyber tongue. Mostly because I realised that this person, who seemed to suddenly out of the blue hate me, was not actually a bad person. I had somehow rubbed them very vigorously the wrong way, and they were expressing that.

Now I know that it is the rule to deal with internet WUMs (wind-up merchants) by ignoring them. I usually do. I should have ignored this person. But then again, ignoring someone who has provoked you has as many disadvantages as it has advantages. My brain is brewing a theory about this based on tweets and tumblr posts I have read recently, and my own experiences in life with bullies, WUMs, and petty tyrants. It is not ready yet to share, there are still several ingredients missing. But this person presented themselves to me at a most propitious moment, which is why I paid attention to them and the lesson they were offering to teach me.

Have I learned the lesson, I don’t know yet, time will tell.

So, wise ones who give me so much good advice, What is your view on this subject?