Bullying seems to be on the increase in British society today.
Take the BBC’s Question Time, which for some reason gives regular platforms to historian David Starkey. Starkey comes over as the archetypal bully, haranging members of the audience as though all are ignorant, yet he himself displays his own ignorance by not even bothering to get the correct names of fellow members of the Question Time panel. Yet the BBC continue to give the views of Starkey air time – good box office maybe, but what does it say about society.
Then there is the small man with a big chair who forms the central focus of "the Apprentice." The appeal of the Apprentice is to see Lord Alan Sugar often ridiculing hapless competitor in a contest to become his business partner.
The bullying genre ofcourse has become popular with broadcasters, with programmes like X-factor and Strictly Come Danciing based on judges ridiculing hapless contestants. But why should people find this type of intimidatory behaviour entertaining, equally I guess why do some want to put themselves through such an ordeal in the first place?
In the real world, can it really come as a surprise that there are reports of bullying in sectors like the health service. Recent years have seen the tipping of the balance in favour of management. The power inequality that has arisen between management and workers has helped foster the bullying culture.
Progressive employers ofcourse work in partnership with workers, operating policies that provide things like a good work life balance. These companies tend to be the more successful ones, yet this goes unrecognised, particularly in the media world, because bullying makes for good viewing figures.
The rising levels of bullying in the workplace reflect the increasingly jungle like neo-liberal economic system that operates in the UK. It is the survival of the fittest, the biggest bully on the block comes out on top. For some businesses this may work but for the majority it creates a bad environment in which to live and work.
The bully from Flashman, to his modern day counterparts, is not someone to be admired but someone to be pitied. Bullies are often cowards themselves, lack self confidence and the basic communications skills and empathy to operate in any other way. Given the aforesaid it is all the more concerning that national media seem to think it is a worthy pursuit to lionise bullies – the bully needs to be brought down not put on an ever higher pedestal.