Incognito gets bullied
Anyone else find it really funny that Incognito deleted his twitter (at least temporarily) after he started receiving tons of social media abuse as the Dolphins report came out? He got out of the situation causing him grief. The same way Jon Martin did to the Dolphins team.
I’ve had some experiences with bullying, so besides the initial reaction comic back when the story first broke I’ve largely stayed away from the story. In the past week though a lot of details emerged and I feel like I would like to share some of those experiences, and how I view the whole thing. Strap on your feelings belts, kiddies.
I was essentially bullied out of Boy Scouts.
I joined Cub Scouts as a Webelo, which if you don’t know, is actually the highest “rank” you can be in Cub Scouts. I wasn’t a scout when I was younger, for whatever reason, but the troop allowed me to join in with people my age at the appropriate level. I would like to think this was the reason I never fit in, because I hadn’t been with the group since the start. However, I wasn’t the only scout to join that way, and the other one was accepted instantly. To this day I’m not really sure what caused the other kids to shut me out. I never had issues like this at school, just in scouts. I was part of a group of 3 or 4 scouts who were the “outsiders”.
I wasn’t physically picked on; it was more a case of verbal abuse with being shunned: Bad nicknames, insults, never getting to take part in the cooler group stuff because we’d be shuffled to the back and ignored. It sucked, but I had some other kids who would talk to me and things were alright. But I wanted to belong just like anyone would, and it seemed really hard to break through to the accepted circle. It was basically 1 clique. You were either in, or you were a loser. It made group meetings harder some days, and it really sucked on camping trips and such, because there were fewer instances of adults able to mediate things and during camping trips me and the other losers were forced to do the crappy stuff. I’d have to go gather the firewood while they all roasted marshmallows or took easier jobs. And if I put up a fight about it? They’d complain to the scout leader that I wasn’t being part of the team, and I’d get the dirty looks. I’d get reprimanded.
These are things you can deal with on an instance by instance basis. It’s the relentlessness of it that wears on you, and people who tell folks to “toughen up” or that they are just being weak don’t seem to realize that the people who are getting picked on are tough. They are handling it. They sit there and take 3 times the abuse of the “tough” people who are dishing it out. They sit there day in and day out facing far worse treatment then the guys who get celebrated instantly. If you are at all different in the slightest you get worse treatment. You have to be tough to cope with it, but no one ever seems to notice that. Instead these people, dealing with this constantly, get perceived as weak, and never get a fair look. It’s a horrible cycle. It’s a slow realization that everything seems to work against you. Once you get stuck in the cycle it’s hard to get out. The longer you are in it, the worse it gets. You try to act like your bullies, be one of them. I tried to fit in, act like the “cool” scouts. It didn’t work; I still got called out and shunned. ( I think the text reports are a good example of Martin attempting to fit in, to act like Incognito. He talked and acted just like him while he was secretly breaking) I tried fighting back. Suddenly they got even nastier to beat me back into my place. I tried appealing to authority, that just made it worse. I was told to “deal with it” or “Stop worrying about it”. If they actually listened to me they’d call on the bullies, and my bullies would pull that same old card that every bully ever pulls: “We were just horsing around”. It always seems to work. Look at Incognito, it was his whole defense. “I was best friends with Martin!” It worked for Incognito too: tons of people swayed over to his side when they released the text messages. I’m sad to say even I was in that group initially. I didn’t swing back to Martin’s side and think about it until Richie’s unprofessional and galling twitter rant last week, when he exposed Jon Martin’s struggle with suicidal thoughts to the world in a cheap attempt to gain more sympathy. At that point I realized that even if Martin had made everything up (Which at that point we didn’t know) Richie is still a bully, and still a huge dick. I caught a lot of flack for suggesting as much on my own twitter account. Even if you are less of a dick than the other guy, you are still a dick. Then the report came out two days later and those people defending Richie’s actions haven’t said a thing since. Funny how that works.
Anyway, as a bullying situation goes on and it’s clear the only way out is to completely abandon who you are and become one of them (which it might be too late for anyway), or get out entirely. Both Martin and I chose the latter. After a year of Boy Scouts, I quit. The other losers had given up before, and only I was left, to receive all the abuse from people I was supposed to work together with. So much of scouts is learning to work together. I was always willing to do it, but no one was willing to do so with me. You can’t move up in ranks without some teamwork badges, so I fell behind. The treatment and ostracizing I got intensified to the point where I actively hated scouts. I was telling my parents I had too much homework so I couldn’t go to scouts. Yes, I was faking homework so I wouldn’t have to go. Eventually I just had enough. There was no joy in it. I quit.
I didn’t come out of scouts a better person. I came out worse. I came out bitter towards certain groups of people, a bitterness it took me years to grow out of. I have a huge dislike for the Boy Scouts of America and I think what they teach is a joke. I occasionally wonder what sort of things I missed out on because a bunch of assholes wouldn’t accept me no matter what I did. If I would feel differently. I’m sure many do, and had good scouting experiences. But I didn’t, and it’s colored my perception ever since. I moved on and until this story broke I hadn’t even thought about my scouting experience in years.
I feel really bad for Martin, and I hate the people getting on him for being weak. This is a player who took tons of abuse from a huge asshole, from an organization that clearly didn’t care, from a sport that glorifies the assholes, and he stood up to them and took his story public. I wonder how many players have experienced similar situations and just quietly left. Martin didn’t. Martin took a stand. His chances of ever playing again are minimal. Richie actually has a better chance with how things are right now. Martin is tough. I’m sure he knew he’d get a lot of crap for leaving and talking the way he did. I’m sure he’s very unhappy about giving up his chances to play a game he loved. But I wonder if he even wants to play anymore.
I hope the Dolphins locker room situation is not normal, but I fear it’s closer to normal then I want to believe. This story, along with the Michael Sam thing, has really shown how immature locker room culture is. It’s disgusting that the organization and coaches allowed this behavior at such high levels. Richie may indeed have viewed Martin as a friend, but the report shows a deliberate crossing of lines, lines that go far beyond normal friend teasing or jokes. This shouldn’t be the norm. It shouldn’t be necessary in a team sport to be a complete immature dick just to be accepted. That’s not “tough”. You can set out to badger and beat down someone, and if you are relentless and constant about it, they will break. You can break anyone like that. You can be immature and jokey all you want, but you have to respect certain limits. Incognito and friends did not.
Anyone who thinks Martin is weak, or needs to toughen up, I think those people need to grow up.