Game Mentalities, Psych-Outs and No Limits

After reading about yet another teenager who took his or her life because of relentless bullying at school, I wanted to address something orchestrated harassers love to do--Psyching out their targets.  Exactly what goes on at the high level, I can't say, but based on what I've experienced and continue to read, even younger people are engaging in this deadly sport.

It seems to those involved as attackers or bullies--however you want to look at it--everything in life is a game to them. And a serious one at that. Only, the game is now off the playing field that was designed for football or soccer and the like and it's being played in an extreme way in communities. If they can freak out a target, get a target to harm him or herself, get a target to move (away from the community or to another school), or if they can get a target to report the activity (bringing police or authorities into the 'game'), then it seems like they gain in some way. How, I'm not sure, other than gaining rank among their peers or a feeling as though they had such great influence.

Psyching someone out is a huge part of that game. With social media being an infinite source of blatant, subliminal, subversive and nuanced messages, psyching out for teenagers as well as adults isn't that hard to do. A target is basically ganged-up on. Many against one is a tough game to win for even the strongest person.

Maybe in the old days, there was always someone who was respected, even by the bullies, who said. "Ok. That's enough already," in relation to activity against a target. It appears as though there are fewer and fewer of these people around. There's no one to recognize limits. Even in the old days, there were rules everyone respected. Even the worst of the bullies didn't cross a certain line. The boundaries, in present day, are missing. Any level of conscience seems to have been erased among aggressors and because of that, even that one person who would've been in the position to say 'enough already!' is afraid to do so. How that happened, why that happened, I don't know. There are many factors that could contribute. The ever-increasing need to shock people, over diagnosing and the increasing amount of people on pharmaceuticals for long periods of time possibly diminishing their normal sense of boundaries and conscience.

I think what is key to remember is that for most people who identify with being a target, the world isn't a game to them. But for others, it is. EVERYTHING has to be a game for them. We have point systems, rewards systems, goals for this, goals for that, winning this, winning that, competition this, competition that. It's endless. From shopping to buying fast food, to selling girl scout cookies--it's all about who can do more, get more, win more. We can barely buy a box a cereal without wanting box top rewards. And, with the sophistication of video games and other forms on Internet gaming, the notion of gaming has taken on a form that is far beyond the schoolyard bully. Many, many people feel the MUST win or influence others. Be in charge. Effect another's behavior. It is how they are feeling empowered and will, it seems, stop at nothing to feel that. For anyone on the receiving end of this obsession with controlling others and winning/psyching people out for the sake of control, maintaining sanity, security and confidence is extremely difficult. Even for adults. I often wonder about anyone younger than me being hit with what I was hit with. I'm older, beyond college, but I'm sure many college students experience levels of these attacks. They depend heavily on social relationships, being part of some group, not being excluded, maintaining grades and so much more. They are in a sensitive period of their lives and need other people, for the most part. If that is cut off and many people try to make a target feel completely excluded --that no one wants to talk to them--that target will suffer greatly. Who knows what someone in that position will do. They're going to be in great pain.

Point being. Psych-Outs are the name of the game for much of the people involved in orchestrated harassment. It's been taken to a very high and very sophisticated level and for those participating, everything is a game. The target is objectified. If the target harms him or herself, I really don't think the harassers feel much of anything, to be honest. Sort of like images of someone in a fighter plane shooting at targets below. There is a significant disconnect between the one doing the shooting and the one being shot. Too much distance exists between the two. If the "shooter" or harasser were really engaged with the target, humanity could take over and the hurting would stop. In high schools, much of the harm is being done through text messaging, social media and the like. These kids are no longer engaging with each other enough to maintain humanity.