Ostracized! Rejected! Mocked, ignored, made the butt of jokes. It's excruciatingly painful.
I found this article this morning, and while reading it, I felt my heart-rate increase, I felt all the pain and shame of my adolescent school years
all over again. In my stomach, in my heart, behind my eyes - all came flooding back.
I graduated from HS in 1976, at age 17. I was a year younger than my cohort, because I'd started Kindergarten at age 4, in another state, and when we
moved to the state I grew up in, they allowed me to continue.
In grade school, there had been a few times I was humiliated. By the time I hit 6th grade, age 9, I was in another new school. I had never attended
the same school for longer than three years - we moved for my dad's work. I recall in 3rd grade, having an eye test. When I walked home for lunch,
Mom told me that the school nurse said I needed glasses. "Oh, super," was my reaction. I'd be a dork.
Not long after that, I was given a "test" - pulled out of class and given a battery of questions while I sat alone with an adult (presumably the
school's nurse or psychologist?). That afternoon I was told I'd be going to a different school the next year - because I was 'gifted'. I was sent to
an "Advanced Learning Curriculum" school some miles away. Mom had to drive me there, while my brothers continued at the other school.
I remember when Mom would be late to get me - I'd be the LAST KID waiting, swinging on the playground, wondering if she'd ever come at all. (Of
course, she always did....but this was my state of mind, and now, at age 55, I'm piecing together what 'happened' to me that made me who I am.) Now
fast forward to "church", a couple of years later. Repeating I was not worthy of crumbs under God's table...that I was a hopeless loser, who every
week made grave mistakes - by things I'd done, and things I'd left undone. And I kept thinking: "What?!! What did I do? I try my best to be good!"
In junior high, my mom wouldn't let me dress like the 'cool kids'. Nono, ankle socks, patent leather mary janes, homemade dresses, polyester
pantsuits, etc. A dork. When I got cast as the lead character in the school play (much to my surprise and delight), I heard through a friend that the
'cool girls' were saying I was "a slut." WHAT?!!! And in high school, I was always on the fringe. I was in the marching band. (Dork). I was a
straight-A student. (Dork). I tried out for cheerleader (then a popularity contest) every year. I was good at it, too! But I was NEVER elected. My
best friend was on the JV squad, and she was my ONLY link to 'the cool kids'.
The 'cool girls' made fun of me. They set me up for cruel jokes. They warned me to stay away from their boyfriends (strangely, the boys all seemed
to like me anyway)....
Not an atypical story - but it's mine, and unfortunately I have to stick to it. As an adult, I've experienced the same sort of "shunning" - both in
social situations and in work. Those are longer stories, and not really relevant here, but I could write all day about it.
Shorten it to say: yes, I have experienced "ostracization" in my lifetime.
Which brings me to this article.
The Social Death Penalty: Why Being
Ostracized Hurts Even More Than Bullying
You might think bullying is worse than ostracism, but recent research suggests that being frozen out is actually more painful. From social
exclusion on the playground to being ignored in the workplace, ostracism is among the most devastating experiences we can endure, deeply connected to
our most fundamental human need to be recognized and accepted. Ostracism can reshape the human brain, and in extreme cases, even make a person
want to go on a killing spree. Isn’t it time we knew more about it?
One of the things about ostracism in the workplace that makes it so hard to deal with is that it can be very subtle. Getting ignored in a meeting
is hard to prove and respond to, but it can be psychologically devastating. In the hands of a petty and malicious boss, ostracism becomes a finely
tuned instrument of torture, and one that can be implemented with little fear. There is an ambiguity to it: the targeted person wonders if it’s
really happening, and since no one tells the target what may be wrong, the person can’t address the problem. The target feels humiliated and without
In the corporation, ostracism is often used to deal with the threat of whistleblowers. Unlike other forms of retaliation, like termination, demotion
or a poor performance review, ostracism is difficult to document and probably won’t qualify for legal intervention. It is extremely effective
because it prevents the target from being able to do his or her work properly, which can create grounds for retaliation that appear to be
(The story lends itself to Elliott Rodger's tragic episode; no, I won't go postal, but I can
understand his pain. I have
, in the past,
been quick to retreat - to run away - when I felt it creeping up on me again.)
We need to think about this, seriously. In every form of society.
On Sunday I was listening to This American Life - and encore of a 1997 episode called
"The Kindness of Strangers"
In the prologue, the host discusses with Brett Leveridge an experience Brett had
Brett Leveridge was standing on the subway. A guy comes walking down the platform, stopping in front of each passenger and delivering a quiet
verdict: "You're in. You're out. You, you can stay. You — gotta go." Most people ignored the guy. But Brett found himself, against his will, hoping
the guy would give him the thumbs up, and when the guy does, it's thrilling in a very small way: a tiny kindness from a stranger.
Brett talks about how he's watching this guy assessing people, looking each of them in the eyes, and pronouncing his verdict (although it meant
exactly NOTHING in real life terms). He explained how as the guy approached him he actually found himself hoping he'd be "picked." For what? It was
for nothing, but all the same, Brett hoped he'd be picked.
The moment came - and he made the cut!
Even though this bizarre subway episode made NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER in real life for ANY of the passengers (those rejected simply ignored the guy),
Brett felt a sort of euphoria, and found himself looking at the "rejects" with a mixture of disdain, and pity.
Our sensitivities are uniquely ours. But I can tell you that ostracization is a CRUEL, HORRIBLE thing people to do one another.
I hope you enjoy the article. You can click on the link to Brett's story to listen to him - it's the first five minutes of the episode....
Let me know what you think - but whatever you do, PLEASE don't ignore me!
edit on 6/3/2014 by BuzzyWigs because: (no reason given)