What is mobbing?
The word bullying is used to describe a repeated pattern of negative intrusive violational behaviour against one or more targets and comprises constant trivial nit-picking criticism, refusal to value and acknowledge, undermining, discrediting and a host of other behaviours.
What is bullying?
Bullying is typically perpetrated by one person although others may join in, for example by operating legitimate procedures in an inappropriate manner, at the behest of the bully, having an adverse effect on the target. “Bullying” is still an appropriate term to describe what is done to the target.
“Mobbing” involves a group of people whose size is constrained by the social setting in which it is formed, such as a performance or working group. It might seem to the target as if many people are involved but in reality the group might be small. The group members directly interact with a target in an adversarial way that undermines or harms them in measurable, definable ways.
Mobbing has absolutely nothing in common with a conspiracy theory known as “Gang Stalking” (to which believers also refer as “Community Mobbing”, “Community Stalking”, “Stalking by Proxy”, “Organized Stalking”, “Cause Stalking”, “Multi-Stalking”).
One of the hallmarks of “Gang Stalking” is that all the self-defined “Targeted Individuals” who claim to describe the phenomenon are unable to produce any objective evidence of it.
The word mobbing is preferred to bullying in continental Europe and in those situations where a target is selected and bullied (mobbed) by a group of people rather than by one individual. However, every group has a ringleader. If this ringleader is an extrovert it will be obvious who is coercing group members into mobbing the selected target. If the ringleader is an introvert type, he or she is likely to be in the background coercing and manipulating group members into mobbing the selected target; introvert ringleaders are much more dangerous than extrovert ringleaders.
In a mobbing situation, the ringleader incites supporters, cohorts, copycats and unenlightened, inexperienced, immature or emotionally needy individuals with poor values to engage in adversarial interaction with the selected target. The ringleader, or chief bully, gains gratification from encouraging others to engage in adversarial interaction with the target.
Many people use the word “mobbing” to describe this pack attack by many on one individual. Once mobbing is underway the chief bully foments the mobbing into mutually assured destruction, from which the chief bully gains intense gratification – this is a feature of people with psychopathic personality.
One aspect of psychopathic bullies is that they home in on Wannabe types – non-psychopathic lesser bullies – and then empower these individuals to gain the positions of power and authority they crave. Once installed, the Wannabe’s lack of competence makes them dependent on the chief psychopath, which means they become unwitting but willing compliant puppets. They also make perfect corporate clones and drones. A characteristic of the Wannabe is that as well as lacking all the competencies necessary for their position, they also lack the intellect to understand the nature and manner of their compliant subservience.
Throughout the mobbing experience, the target is deceived into fighting, blaming and trying to hold accountable the minor bullies of the mobbing group rather than the chief bully. The main reason a psychopathic chief bully gets away with his (or her) behaviour repeatedly is that no-one wants to believe that s/he could be the monster s/he is.. They appear so charming and plausible to naïve, unenlightened and inexperienced people – usually those who haven’t experienced bullying themselves. Psychopathic chief bullies are very likely to have influential people in their pocket, who are then manipulated into further mobbing, victimising and persecuting the target.
The golden rule when tackling a mobbing situation is, I believe, to identify and focus exclusively on the chief bully, and concentrate on holding this ringleader accountable. Expect an immediate increase in mobbing activities, and a rapidly-expanding web of deceit to be concocted against you. Alternatively, the best solution may be to make a positive decision to leave and refuse to allow these people to continue to ruin your career, your health and your life. In the unlikely event that the psychopathic chief leader is exposed and then leaves, the dysfunction, aggression and negative feelings fostered by him or her are likely to linger for years.
The Psychology of Mob Mentality or Groupthink
The overwhelming need for many individuals to blindly and unquestioningly follow others is commonly known as ‘mob mentality’ , ‘herd mentality’ or ‘groupthink’.
Groupthink has been described thus:
It is a manifestation of consensus thinking and blind adherence to peer group pressure irrespective of the facts or consequences. Indeed, eight symptoms of groupthink have been established which highlight this abandonment of rational judgement.
1. Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
2. Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
3. Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
4. Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.
The consensus nature of groupthink and the collective rigidity and irrationality of their attitudes may result in extreme measures to preserve the consensus, even to the point of attacking any who disagree and perceiving them to be enemies who must be silenced
It is important to understand the psychological and social factors that differentiate bullying from mobbing. Bullying is a form of interpersonal aggression in which one person, who may or may not be in a position of influence or power, abuses one or a few individuals.
Mobbing involves a group of people, acting under the influence of someone in a position of organizational leadership, who become increasingly aggressive and increase in number until the target is removed from the group or completely disempowered. Importantly, once mobbing commences, the instigator almost always retreats, confident that the aggression of the group will be sufficiently destructive, while removing him or herself from responsibility for the aggression.
Mobbing is not the same as being disliked by a lot of people. Mobbing starts when someone in a position of organizational leadership communicates to the group that they want a particular person gone. When this happens, the group will be encouraged to blame the unwanted person for any infraction, real or rumoured, and they quickly learn that any adversarial action taken against the person is acceptable. They will also quickly mobilize to protect their own interests, align with the leader, and recast the person as a trouble maker who must be removed from the group—but most will do so under the genuine perception that it is the targeted person is the problem, and not the instigating aggressor.
As mobbing develops and gossip circulates about the target, negative labels and damaging accusations will ensue, eventually leading to formal charges of some form of misconduct against the target. Secretive and specious investigations will rapidly frighten, anger and exhaust the target while tension, fear and compliance are heightened among the group.
Ultimately, as gossip and fear escalate, the mobbing target will be isolated. At this point, it becomes futile for the person to point to “the bully” as the problem because the group of aggressors will have expanded—people who are often peaceful, if not passive, in other contexts. But having been encouraged to avoid and resent the person, to gossip about them and make adverse reports against them, otherwise kind and compassionate workers can quickly become nasty, bullying aggressors. And when they do so, they do not view themselves as aggressive, but as defending against the “irrational” acts and allegations of the targeted person. Through cognitive dissonance, mobbing participants come to view their own bad behaviour as justified and necessary, because to consider themselves as “bullying” is usually contrary to their own values and sense of self identity.
Because people behave very differently in groups than they do as individuals, remedies to end these different forms of aggression vary. Unlike bullying, which can be effectively mediated in a number of ways, and only sometimes requires the elimination of the aggressor, mobbing is much more difficult to stop. Until and unless someone intervenes to stop mobbing, once commenced it will intensify in size and severity until the person has been eliminated. And since mobbing involves collective aggression against a person, its impact is far more severe than bullying because the person can rapidly lose social support as one by one the group avoids, slanders and accuses them of one thing after another, and closes ranks—thereby eliminating any help for a constructive resolution.
Despite these important distinctions, the process of mobbing and the nature of group aggression have been poorly explored and rarely discussed in the anti-bullying literature, which tends to focus on the psychology of individuals. One reason mobbing is so damaging and destructive is that very few people know what it is. They do not know how to recognize it, and thereby avoid it at the early stages. By the time most people realize they are being mobbed, it is too late to stop it without leaving the group altogether. And by the time most people have become participants in a mob, they are unable to recognize their own aggressive behaviour for what it is because they do not understand the nature of mobbing and how it has shaped their perceptions of the target, or why the target is behaving with such heightened emotion and instability.
Interpersonal aggression, exclusion, shunning and cruelty have no place in any organizational setting, and until the anti-bullying movement begins to explore the distinctions between bullying and mobbing, individual interpersonal aggression and group aggression, and schoolyard bullying and workplace bullying, the power relations that make “bullying” possible will remain hiding in the shadows, enabling anyone, no matter how committed to cooperation, compassion and kindness, to bully or be bullied right out the door. A first step toward closing that door will be to disentangle our terms and concede that different forms of aggression require different solutions.
Social Media – The New Mob Mentality?
We’ve all heard of ‘mob’ or ‘herd mentality’. That is, when individuals get together in a group, lose their sense of self and start to act as the group without feeling responsibility for their individual actions. Classic examples of this are riots, looting, and many other instances of violence where people commit acts as part of a group that they would never commit on their own. There’s something about being part of a collective that dissolves personal accountability and causes people to behave in strange ways. Psychologists call this ‘deindividuation’.
Being part of a group not only makes us commit acts that we wouldn’t commit as an individual but, it also causes us to not act when we should.
The ‘Bystander Effect’ is a phenomenon where individuals don’t offer any means to help a victim when other people are present. The hypothesis is; when there’s a group of people, responsibility and accountability are diffused therefore people are less likely to act. There have been many experiments demonstrating this strange behaviour. In one such experiment, psychologists staged a woman in distress on a public street. The results showed that when there were other people around, only 40 percent of people went to help the woman. However, when there were no people around, 70 percent of people went to help. It’s as if a lack of accountability and social responsibility dilutes our morals, rendering our want to help others impotent.
It’s been clear for many years that being part of a group makes us behave differently to how we behave alone. But, how has the internet changed this? We now have giant, global, virtual mobs which have totally changed the social psychology landscape. There’s now a new mob mentality arising.
The internet has created virtual mobs where all sense of social responsibility is absent. It’s now so easy to comment on something, attack a person or group, or be influenced by mob ideals. I believe that when most people write comments, tweet or post something that attacks another person online, they actually don’t feel as though they’re talking to a person. The virtual nature of communication weakens their sense of self and their social responsibility which impacts their respect for others feelings.
It’s as if all sense of humanity gets lost between screens and servers. No longer do we need to leave our home and join an angry mob to get angry about something together. Instead, we can troll with other anonymous, insecure and angry people to attack, bring down people and spread hate.
Why is it that when we take away personal responsibility, some people slip into a dark, moral-less world where social norms crumble away and our perception and judgement shifts out of focus? Suddenly the edges of good and bad become undefined and concepts like social responsibility become shapeless forms open to interpretation. Does this mean that this, de-individualised negative self is always in us but just dormant, tied down by the fraying ropes of society’s expectations? It’s as if, once the darkness of internet anonymity cloaks us, our inner, unfulfilled desires surface like a drowned and bloated body. Which one is our ‘real’ self?
Is the internet indirectly shifting this collective consciousness by causing more and more people to cut the ropes of social norms? In this online, virtual landscape, people allow their dark insecurities to rise up through a weakened sense of self and spew down to sweaty fingertips to tap untactfully on keyboards.
The internet is not only allowing us to easily dissolve our sense of self through anonymity, it also exposes us to many ‘mobs’ and allows people to become easily influenced by others’ ideals. In some cases, extreme ideals. You see, I believe that once our sense of self is dissolved and anonymity has cloaked us, we become even more vulnerable to negative mob mentality. It’s as if, with no sense of self, our egos subconsciously desire to attach to something, a false-self, even if it’s hateful and negative group-think.
It’s now easier than ever to get infected by negative thoughts or bullied by digital egos. This is making a lot of people very anxious and very depressed. It can cause so much hurt and grief that people feel the need to take their own lives.
So what does the future hold? Face-to-face interactions are on the decline, so what will become of our individual self in an expanding virtual, online existence? We no longer identify with causes through attending rally’s or meeting together. Instead, we click ‘like’ and our news feed magically feeds us a global collective. The internet has brought us wonders, it’s changed the world, created positive global societies, but with the good comes the bad, as soul-eating trolls lurk in dark corners waiting to attack your sense of self.
Road Less Travelled
What Makes One a Target for Bullying?
In recent years, there has been a great deal of research on bullying, and we are beginning to understand more about the motivations of bullies, and the effects of bullying. Here are the factors that are associated with being the target of bullies:
A person can stand out in some way.
Bullies often target persons who are particularly skilled or competent, viewing them as competition, and compensating for their own weaknesses.
Bullies will often pick on people who they feel won’t fight back – the people who are nice and try to get along with everyone. That is what is so frustrating for many targets of bullies because they are puzzled that they are singled out.
Bullies focus on people who are socially isolated. If you are an informal leader, with people who admire and “follow” you, it is less likely that bullies will target you.
The first step in combating bullying is awareness of the problem, the second step is to take action. If you are a target of bullies, fight back. If you observe bullying, report it or intervene.