I’ve been horrified to see how the quickly the bully culture co-opts and destroys language before it can be useful in people’s growth and healing. The victims finally have a language and the bullies don’t like it.
When I was growing up I didn’t have the words for how I was bullied - gaslighting! Now I have a word that captures the sinking feeling of being shown how wrong your very instincts must be, again, to feel that you’re being harmed in any way when the person you admire, even love, is telling you that it’s all in your head, that what you remember didn’t happen, that what you know isn’t true. Gaslighting. That’s a thing, it’s not my imagination, there’s a word for that! What a relief, to have a way to name it quickly, that nebulous, slippery set of symptoms that don’t quite add up to something you can prove and put a stop to. Thank you. Now I can see it, name it, recognize it, consider it and not dismiss my inner knowing.
Think about all the insults - Snowflake! Liberal! Woke!
Like considering yourself unique and special is laughable. Like being open minded to new ideas is despicable. Like paying attention to the experiences of other people means you’re not authentic.
We had those words, finally, a way to shorthand very important, key learnings on a journey of personal growth, and they have turned them to insults, actions to be avoided. While we, ever the victims, put our heads down and tried to avoid their fists.
The bullies are doing to our language what they do to everything we love about ourselves. They belittle and sneer. They turn our words into weapons of shame, just like they do our differences, because they are bullies. They use whatever weakness they see to get an upper hand, feel strong, and sway the stupid, following sidekicks to do the same. Whatever reasons, whatever work they’ve done in their lives to grow up so this manifests in more socially acceptable ways (such as controlling a conversation, talking over someone, belittling their experience, teasing them about their stutter or appearance, laughing when they make a mistake, telling people not to be so sensitive and it’s just a joke), at the end of they day they have a bullying personality. So they will bully. They will look for weakness and poke at it, and they will look for strength and try to take it, turn it to weakness, weaponize it against us. To feel in control. For whatever fucked up reasons have fucked up their minds, hearts, and spirits that has NOTHING TO DO WITH US. For these reasons they don’t even know, they have successfully been stealing the words we use to describe how their behaviour affects us. Ooooh, whiny snowflake, did someone step on your BOUNDARIES and then try to GASLIGHT YOU? Boo hooooo hoooooo. They are silencing our voices, or worse, getting us to pre-emptively silence ourselves. They are undermining our ability to describe our experience.
Anyone who sneers at another person who is trying to describe their experience is an asshole. Even if we love them. So don’t mind if I don’t let them decide what words I use to describe my experience.