Schoolyard bully to Facebook friend?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 Permalink

It’s my 30th school reunion next year.

Holy shit. That means I’m officially old right? I guess it’s also too late to lose a million kilograms, become super famous and catch myself an amazingly handsome, articulate, devoted and wealthy husband…. right? Cos isn’t that what school reunions are all about? Having your friends envy your post-school life?

If that’s the case then I’m kinda screwed. In fact, I suspect I peaked in high school and it’s been downhill ever since.

However, this isn’t about the makeover I desperately need before October 2014. Nope. This tale of woe starts with a Facebook page which was set up by some of my old school chums in honour of the occasion.

I, like many others, dutifully signed up to the page and chuckled at the tragic school photographs being shared. And then… The invitations started. You know the ones I mean – the dreaded Facebook ‘friend’ requests.

Initially I just hit ‘accept’ to everything that came through (and most I was happy to receive) until… a couple came through that caused me to grimace.

Like every school and every childhood mine had its fair share of bullying bitches. Of course back in the 1980s we didn’t really call it bullying. We just had those girls (less so guys for some reason) who were the ‘bad eggs’. And back in the 1980s they were the girls who had multiple piercings, smoked in the school toilets and made fun of everyone outside of their own ‘gang’. All before they were 14 years old.

mg

Fortunately my hometown and school were pretty safe so I can’t remember stuff ever getting physical, but – some of these girls made others’ lives hell.

I copped it a little bit, but no more so than any of my friends. Mostly I remember name-calling, bitchy comments and embarrassing practical jokes designed to bring others to tears.

Unsurprisingly most of the bullies left school as soon as they were able (back then – when they turned 15) and our final two years (senior) were far more serene and less stressful. The bitchy bullies were behind us.

In my final year at school I was doing some modelling and ran into one of the former skanks girls after a fashion parade one night. Our paths rarely crossed as my life was about school and sport and her’s was about…. god only knows what!?. I was gobsmacked that she was so friggin’ sucky all of a sudden – telling me how great I looked and acting as if we’d been the best of buddies. Back then I was sweet, so was polite in response; but I remember being really shocked at her behaviour – at how NICE she was to me. Of course now I’d be like… What. The. Fuck?! (Or maybe not to her face. Just here in the blog!)

That same girl was someone who wanted to be my Facebook ‘friend’. I ignored the request because she was one of the WORST bullies at school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way traumatised by these school bullies (or a couple from my basketball days I could name!) but quite frankly I have no desire to see or speak to them ever again. Life’s just too short and they’re just not worth it.

Perhaps they’ve changed, you might argue.

Surely someone who is such a horrible person as a child and teenager can hardly morph into a decent human being? And even if they did, I’m not sure I care.

Do you agree? Should I forgive and forget? Should I become Facebook buddies with old school bullies?

Today I’m linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT!

26 Comments
  • Satu
    December 3, 2013

    I wish there was an easy embarrassing way to decline friend requests – I mean embarrassing to those who send those requests? It would be for people like schoolyard bullies :-)

    I was bullied in (junior) high school and my bullies were a group of boys. I don’t even remember those guy’s names and wouldn’t certainly friend them on Facebook. It would be pointless to friend them on Facebook.

  • Char
    December 3, 2013

    It’s hard to forgive and forget stuff that made you feel bad about yourself years ago. I recently was invited to the 50th of a boy I’d known as a teenager. He and his friends were pretty mean to some of us girls and my reaction was the same. Why would I go if we were never friends?

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Absolutely! I mean, I’m sure I’ll see these people at the reunion, but I’m a grown woman now. I get to choose who I spend time with…

  • Lee-Anne
    December 3, 2013

    It’s possible the bully has had an epiphany and morphed into a lovely person, after all, everyone (psychopaths excepted) has the capacity for self-improvement, but the point is, do you care? All you remember is her hateful nastiness, and while in theory you can forgive, forgetting is harder.
    Just hang out with nice people (on Facebook too) :)

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Yes, I think there have been entire movies or TV shows about how the bully sees the error of their ways and feels remorseful, but I’m thinking…. #meh.

  • Lizzy - Muddle-Headed Mamma
    December 3, 2013

    I don’t have facebook anymore, but when I did a girl who had made a period of my high school life hell added me on facebook. That was almost seven years ago and being shocked and too polite for my own good, I accepted her request, but inside I was feeling. ARE YOU SERIOUS?? DON”T YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOU DID TO ME?? Sorry to shout, but that’s how I was feeling. If I still had facebook now and it happened, there would be no accepting going on on my part. Forgiving your enemies doesn’t mean you have to befriend them! I agree, it seems that a lot of what high school reunions are about is showing off about post-school success. I hope you enjoy yours though and stick with the nice girls :)

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Thanks Lizzy! Early on I added a couple of people before I really thought about it too much so I hid them. Most people I went to school with are fine – but those who were nasty… Pfft!

  • Steve
    December 3, 2013

    Always a tough one – it comes back to individual choice. I remember you at school, being tall, good looking and intelligent and certainly way out of my league to talk too (being an immature boy), now I wouldn’t have an issue. Also, you came from a very stable and loving family. I’m sure these bullies found you as intimidating as I did and they (most likely) didn’t have a stable home life either. All thrown together with raging hormones, immaturity and a search for acceptance, children can be cruel. This is the reason I believe people can change, if they find there way in life and grow up. Some people never change though. I have tried desperately to become a better person in life so here’s hoping you will talk to me at the reunion.

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Hmmmm… trying to guess who this is (which Steve?!) but it’s mostly the horrible bullies I’m struggling with. I’m sure you can name a few and there must have been guys who were the same (not sure if there was any cross-gender bullying!).

      PS. I don’t think I was out of anyone’s league in school – just kinda quiet and into my own thing (I think!). Those days are a bit of a blur!

  • Carolyn @ Champagne Cartel
    December 3, 2013

    Looking back at girls I considered bullies at school, I can see that they struggled academically, and they were acting out to hide the fact that they felt stupid. They left at the end of grade 10 to get a job in one of the shops or offices near our school, and any time I go back to that area (hardly ever), I still see some of them working there – 24 years later. Does that mean I want to be FB friends with them? Hell no! But it gives me perspective that their behaviour wasn’t really about me. It was about how unhappy they were. Having said all that, I am yet to go to a high school reunion. The only reason I would go is curiosity – and that can now be sated by checking out everyone’s FB profile pic so there’s no need to go now. :)

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      I have to admit I’m loath to go to my reunion cos I feel so crappy about myself nowadays – like I said, I suspect I peaked in high school… like the cheerleaders or quarterbacks in American movies who go on to do nothing with their lives! I suspect I’ll feel obliged to go though!

      I went to my 10th reunion, but was in the middle of a weekend of netball elsewhere and rushed home for the night, couldn’t stay late and had to travel at the crack of dawn the next day. HUGE mistake. I really didn’t relax or enjoy myself at all.

  • Jodi
    December 3, 2013

    I forgive but I never forget, so in a situation like this I would not accept the FB request.

    I went to my 20th school reunion last year, and the girls who thought they were “cool” at school, were now far from it. The cliques stayed the same during the night, people only mingled with the same people they mingled with at school. It was weird… I don’t see people I went to school with anymore as I moved away 15 years ago, but I too felt like I gravitated towards the ones I “knew”.

    Strange how schooling can shape a lot of behaviours.

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Oh yes… I remained close to my circle of friends for ages after school. Because we’re from a small town we regularly caught up when home at our parents on holidays etc. It happens less so now but a few of us still try to catch up around Christmas each year. The group varies but it’s always nice to see each other. We’ve kept in contact over the years so kinda know what’s happening in each others’ lives. Last year we shared some pics on FB and others from school commented that they’d like to have come, but it was like… well, these are the girls I’ve been friends with for years and it’s less of a reunion and more of a catchup.

  • Alli @ Ducks on the dam
    December 3, 2013

    That is a hard one. Do you move on? Or press delete? Obviously this person is still taking up some of your head space….. I am picky with my fb friends. Quite possibly because I have so many online personas that I cant really be picky with like twitter, my blog etc. I also ask myself if I want that person to be able to see everything that I post. If not, then no chance.

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      I usually share links to this blog in my private FB page, but didn’t for obvious reasons. Because I write online and have social media accounts I do sometimes forget who can see my stuff (particularly on my own FB page!)

      Deb

  • Emma Fahy Davis
    December 3, 2013

    Interesting question! After years of being bullied mercilessly in primary, I was unfortunately the bully at high school and now I am FB friends with many of the girls I terrorised at school. Mostly because they requested friendship, I find it tough to hit ‘Add friend’ myself because I know how abominally I behaved back then.

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Oh that’s interesting Emma. I was wondering what former bullies would think, if they’d changed etc. Like I said I’m sure I’ve seen TV shows where people haven’t realised what bullies they were until later, or had some kind of problem which caused them to push people away etc.

  • Miss Cinders
    December 3, 2013

    Me? “Decline” button. I have a couple on mine I questioned myself about, kind of seeing if they’d changed over the years. And I was happily surprised that a couple of them had. The others… as nasty and vicious as they were in high school (not to me, but to others).

    My sister point blank has said no to those kinds of requests. And I say good on her for not letting people in that hurt her in the past.

    I believe people can change, but I guess you have to ask yourself do you really want to go there to find out?

    MC xo
    #teamIBOT

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      Yes, I guess that’s the question. I have accepted friend requests from a heap of people I barely knew / wasn’t close to in school and I think it wasn’t until I got one or two from people who were PARTICULARLY problematic that I stopped and asked myself the question. The worst thing is that I worry about hurting others’ feelings or insulting them by ignoring the request. (Of course sometimes I don’t even notice I have requests there, or I don’t recognise the name and ignore it!)

      Deb

  • Tegan
    December 3, 2013

    Maybe if it’s too awkward to deny the friend request you could just add them and then restrict what they see and hide them from your time line. If they in fact haven’t changed then my guess is they would try and make the page awkward if you didn’t accept their friendships. Sometimes it’s just easier to accept and then hide.
    There was a group of 4 girls in the year below me that the whole high school called ‘the plastics’. They always dressed similar and were complete cows to anyone who didn’t fit into their idea of what perfect was.

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      I’ve actually hidden a few people on my FB feed – more so I don’t have to see their stuff than vice versa. That way I don’t have to think about them. Also, some people I really don’t have stuff in common with so the stuff they were sharing just wasn’t of any interest. (Whereas I’m sure – of course – that anything and everything I share is universally interesting! ;-) )

  • Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me
    December 3, 2013

    Isn’t it stupid how people want to be your FB ‘friend’ yet they are not actually your friend, they just want to stalk you? UGH – kill me now. I have so many memories and enemies from my private boarding school years these isn’t enough time for me to get started!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a rule, I accept some that I used to talk to but if they don’t comment, like or whatever in 6 months then they are GONE BURGER! Em x

    • Debbish
      December 3, 2013

      I like that approach. I rarely cull my FB friend list. With the constant changes I tend to see comments/updates from those I’m closest to but do realise I’m probably missing others. (And then there’s the squeaky wheel thing!)

  • EssentiallyJess
    December 4, 2013

    It’s so funny how things changed after school, and made me think it wasn’t really real at all. Some of my ‘friends’ would just ignore me if we ran into each other, and then those who I rarely spoke to, would stop for a chat. It was all so weird.
    I like to think people change and get better, but I’m not sure I’d accept the friendship request. Only cause, is it actually necessary?

    • Debbish
      December 4, 2013

      True Jess and mostly the answer is ‘no’.

I'd love to hear your thoughts