Bullies and Cliques

Last week Blogland was in a tiz about bullying. A lovely mummy blogger wrote a post describing something she felt bad about; someone else criticised her very harshly, and everyone kicked off! Amongst all the discussion about bullies, another theme arose: cliques.

It seems people feel that there is a kind of hierarchy of bloggers. Well there is. Some people have been at it for longer, they know each other well, they have stuff in common. It is natural. Allegations of cliques were bandied about, implying that some bloggers are hostile to newcomers.

I take issue with that. I am 7 years old, and whilst I will not lay claim to being bullied, I have felt the pain of hurtful comments. I have been ridiculed on occasion by other girls. It was painful, but I didn’t dwell on it. My problem is with the everyday; I feel the slights of my friends, unintentional or otherwise. For some reason I have always been part of a 3; I have never had an exclusive friendship like some girls do, and sometimes that is difficult. My best friend is also someone else’s best friend – sometimes I am excluded, and it hurts.

Bullying and cliques are such big news that allegations online are bound to provoke a reaction. There’s even a Nintendo DS game, Queen Teen The Clique, where you join a new school and everyone is mean to you. To become their friend you have to do lots of errands for them until you are accepted into their group and invited to the party. You are basically bullied! This game has an age 3 rating on it, so children that young are being introduced to the concept of the ‘in-crowd’ and how the system works!

Don’t get me wrong; I know that it is sometimes me on the ascent – sometimes I may inadvertantly hurt a friend. And that is the key word: it is inadvertant. Mummy has helped me create coping strategies for upsetting times. If things aren’t working with a friend, I suggest something fun to turn it round. I play with someone else for a while, or I go and find something that makes me happy (books often do the trick!). And when nothing is working, I talk to my friend. I pick a time, and I explain how I feel. So far I’ve been lucky – it has always helped.

You see, people are often totally oblivious to the feelings they evoke in others. Do these bloggers realise they are unwittingly part of a group? Probably, but do they play on that to the exclusion of others? For the most part, the answer is no. My advice to the bloggers who feel that way is this:

  1. Do what I do: talk to them. They are not scary, just busy. It is not for nothing that *butts in* was invented on Twitter. A very well-known blogger unknowingly intimidated the heck out of Mummy until one day they got chatting. That lady is now Mummy’s go-to person when the blog goes wrong – she is a bit scary though 😉
  2. Some may like you, some may not – get used to it, such is life.
  3. Go and play with someone else for a while – chances are you’ll get on really well, and you’ll certainly broaden your support network.
  4. Rely on yourself somtimes; you blog for you first and foremost so enjoy what you do.
  5. And be polite. Don’t be rude to anyone. If someone is rude to you they are not worth your time so forget them.

Are there groups of like-minded bloggers who have known each other for ages? Yes. Are they hostile to newcomers? Not usually, so please don’t label a whole bunch of bloggers with one person’s rudeness. Are there cliques? Only if we allow it.

39 thoughts on “Bullies and Cliques”

  1. Well said… I must admit I panic a bit when talking to some people but in general it is just like you said… They’re busy! I have mostly male friends because I don’t get as much of this cliquiness that I try to steer clear of. The blogosphere is quite scary and overwhelming for a newbie as it’s full of women and, let’s face it, we all have to have big personalities to write what we write so it is never easy to fit a new voice in. I have tried to take a back seat and look over what goes on… It’s much more fun that way!

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    • That’s fine if you’re happy like that. But please never feel that you can’t join in. I would be horrified to learn that people saw me as part of a clique, although I am aware that I am gradually becoming part of a wider group who ‘chat’ regularly. I’m sure that most of the bigger bloggers feel that way too – or maybe they’re just too nice to tell me to bog off and leave them alone 😉

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  2. Interesting post. I saw the not very supportive comment and the following defence – which if you are not careful in these situations can turn into more bullying. I’m sure there are cliques and certainly hierarchies. As you say people have known each other for years in some cases. Got into a debate about the tots 100 and klout etc ( another way of highlighting hierarchy perhaps) as everyone seemed upset about their rankings and I wondered why they got involved. Then everyone said they weren’t upset – though there had been about 42 comments on the subject! I was actually trying to be reassuring, but fear it was not taken that way. Vowed to spend the time mothering my kids rather than people on FB in future – but then went on twitter and found some really supportive messages on another subject – some of the people probably even overlapped. Sometimes I think we all need to step away from our computers – if only for a few minutes – and look at what’s happening in our homes and real lives and get some perspective. Everyone knows that texts and emails can be misunderstood and the tone doesn’t always carry, jokes are seen as serious etc, I think the problem is perhaps even worse on FB, twitter etc when people may not know each other well in the first place. Being polite is v good advice!

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    • You are right, we all waste far too much time creating hot air 😉 But don’t you think women are like that generally? We just love to gas a lot, and we change our opinions, create a fuss sometimes and then claim we were never bovvered in the first place! Better stop now before someone takes offence at that! 😉

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  3. Perfect timing with this post! I read in a comment a few days back that there were ‘cliques’ and that only people in the ‘in gang’ got to be ‘bloggers of the week’ ect.

    It’s natural that people who start out blogging at the same time find friendship and support with others who are at a similar place. I’ve been to an event of two where everyone knew everyone else and I knew no one. Yes I felt a bit excluded at first but then I just threw myself into it and joined in and all was fine!

    It’s a question of confidence and just tweeting nonsense sometimes! I can only echo what you have said about ‘joining in’. We are all in little pockets of ‘bloggy friends’ and there’s no shame in that but I bet we’d all feel mortified to think that someone felt us an unapproachable!

    And if you do find someone who you find is being rude or unapproachable they will most likely even be aware that they are being perceived like it. Take the time to send them a message and explain how and why you feel – it’s much better to be polite and treat others how you yourself wish to be treated than to publicy ‘name and shame’ someone unfairly!

    Gosh we need to inject some L-O-V-E into the blogosphere this week 😀

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  4. First of all, Thank You! I have just realised that, like you, I have always been part of a three way friendship and never had a Best Friend as such and sometimes that was hard.
    But I also loved the 3 of us together. It just never occurred to me to look at it that way.

    On the subject of cliques and bullying, I am as rookie and “green” as it comes. I have been blogging for 3 weeks and foolishly also signed for NaBloPoMo which is killing my real life a bit (well, not the Fun part of my title, more the ironing and household stuff so who cares, right?)

    Thanks to the magic of twitter I have connected with a few fellow bloggers and realised how nice it is to politely reach out and get feedback or advice. Yes, you might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found so far more friendly and helpful people than rude ones. there has been 2 sarcastic comments on twitter about something and I just unfollowed and moved on, as simple as that.

    I have not come across cliques as such but simply friends who clearly know each other and have their private banter which is of course totally cool. I do feel a few of the “oldies” are a bit protective of their “trade” and feel somehow smug for all their “good relationships with PRs and what not” but then again I come from the media world and know how dynamic the industry is – in one day, out the next – so they might just be a bit worried of some fresh blood, whatever it is , their problem, not mine.

    I hope my view of the blog world will remain this positive in a year time, but for now, from this rookie blogger, it’s all good…well, apart for these 21 posts that I have somehow to come up with.

    Good luck to us all.

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    • You sound properly grounded – you will do fine! And re the 21 posts, I seriously considered giving up at 1am this morning – thank goodness for Silent Sunday! See you soon on Twitter 🙂

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  5. I seem to be always on the edge of groups, friendly but never quite in the hub of things, but such is life… And the thing with blogging is, maybe it exagerates real life a bit as friendships, links etc are so much more visible online.
    Be polite, and friendly is always good advice and treat others around you as you yourself would like to be treated can never go wrong. Oh and always go out with makeup on, you never know who you might meet… I always wonder whether the web cam is on or not, so just to be sure I am covered, always sit with make up on infront of the laptop… xxx

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    • Really?? Haha goodness knows what people must think of me in my pj’s then! *checks for spots* Caroline it’s funny because I don’t often see you on Twitter, but you must never feel like an outsider – you are great! Probably just too busy with a real job to talk tosh on Twitter all day and night 😉

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    • Oh I’m with you on this one Caroline – I quite often feel on the edge of friendship groups – in ‘real’ life and I also feel this happening slightly in the blogosphere but I figure I’m still pretty new at blogging and I haven’t actually met any of you in real life yet (still trying to work out if I can come to Britmums next year – then I might!) and I find I am so busy I don’t spend as much time on twitter etc as some (not til about 11pm anyway when it’s just a few insomniac night owls!).
      Also with you on the make up! Maybe we should make our own clique – haha!

      Oh and Actually Mummy – I can’t believe that game – how appalling.

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      • The first event is the most daunting but people are usually nice and wine in the evening always makes it easier. You just have to be brave and take a chance (same as any new group of people really)

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  6. Blogging is something you do for yourself. Maybe I’m not exposed to the bullying and cliques or choose not to see it. But I haven’t had any problems and ever one has been pretty nice since I started blogging just under 2 years ago. I think you have to remember this is something you can walk away from if you want to but if you enjoy it keep it up. Cliques are awful and that games is shocking. But when you get people together they will inevitably form cliques. I am sorry you went through that but try not to let it get to you. Hugs x

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  7. You’re the second person to publicly say that I’m intimidating but OK once you get to know me in a fortnight. I might have to look at the way I come across online if that’s the way people see me 🙁 I don’t mean to come across like that, you know. I’m just very clear on my views – I know myself well. I can honestly say that I’ve never bullied anyone (I had years of being bullied at school – I know how it feels – and yes, proper bullying from peers and one teacher) and I answer every single @ message on Twitter.

    I know lots of people within my social media “circles” who very obviously have cliques but I’ve gravitated (naturally) towards those who aren’t in a clique – having that feeling that you’re not quite accepted is always a little unnerving.

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    • Oh Nickie it was tongue in cheek so please don’t feel bad – didn’t mean to offend. I think you just come across as knowing everyone, and loads about blogs, blogging, etiquette and the rest. And you’re not afraid to say what you think. New bloggers are bound to be a little bit in awe of that until they get to know you. Kind of a ‘gosh I mustn’t bother her with my piffling little concerns given how busy she must be and how clever she is, and how unworthy I am even to read her blog never mind ask her advice’ thing. Once I did ask your advicel you were great, and that is the message I am trying to get across here: people are not always perceived the way they really are until you know them, and to do that we sometimes have to be brave and make contact. It is intimidating when you are new and not that bold anyway. I’ve had people (not many) say how awsome I am and how I must have been blogging ages, and I consider myself to be of the piffling little variety! There are natural ‘cliques’ and now you mention it I wouldn’t put you in any of them in my mind. But my point is that even those who are in a clique are usually nice if you give them a go. Usually………

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    • Hi Nickie – I wrote a post the other day about one of the NLP presups which is about communication – I think I veer towards the intimidating too, and the stuff I wrote is very applicable to me – I often don’t understand why other people take me the way they do, but perhaps I need to look at my communication a bit more closely – not saying at all that this applies to you, just that it’s interesting…. oh blimey and that uncovers another thing about all this, which is that when things are written down and not face to face you just don’t have the opportunity to “see” communication and sooooo much of what we say is not just about the words….

      On another point entirely – I’ve heard you’re a bit of a techy whizz – I’m in a fix with my blog, – error messages about memory when trying to load photos – which means my blog is very black and white at the moment (hmmm interesting linguistic pun given what we’ve just been talking about) – will msg you and see if you’ve got any pearls of wisdom up your sleeve 😉 Cheers Fiona

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  8. Great post, I too am quite new to blogging I’ve only been writing since July (although I’m probably what everyone calls a blagger as,my blog is mainly reviews with posts of my boys thrown in too) I haven’t come across any bullying or cliques I try talking to everyone and help if I can and also ask if I need it, I love my blog and maybe dont fit in but I never really have so this is nothing new.

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  9. i am the same i don’t really have an exlusive friendship and i am usually a friendly person. the fact that queen teen DS exists scares me…

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  10. Like a few people who have commented here, I am usually on the edge of a few groups and never in the ‘IN’ crowd. I’m quite quiet and shy, so not your typical blogger, so probably don’t fit in here either……but on the whole I have found the blogging community very warm and welcoming. I guess cliques are inevitable with any large groups of people. xx

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  11. I hate the word ‘clique.’ It sounds so negative and it’s not something I’ve experienced on the Net yet. If you take it mean a group of people who talk to each a lot, then yes, cliques exist and you’d probably say that I’m in one. But, I would be devastated and outraged if anyone felt me unapproachable!

    Of course they will say things that other people don’t understand – “in jokes,” if you like – but that’s because they’ve been talking for a while. Everybody has to start somewhere.

    We all have blogs we follow, because we like the subject matter or style of writing on that blog. It’s exactly the same as if we were in a room together – some people would get on, others wouldn’t. It tends to follow therefore that you’ll have the same ‘friends’ on Twitter and see the same people commenting on tweets or posts time and again.

    I genuinely haven’t noticed any difference in how experienced/new bloggers react to me, but then when I jump into a conversation on Twitter, I don’t check to see how long a person’s been blogging – it’s because they’ve said something that struck a chord with me. Perhaps there is a difference and I’m just not picking up!

    It does make me cross to think there are people complaining about blogging being too cliquey! What have they done to try and initiate conversations? Everyone has to make an effort. I did! If you walked into a room at a party, you’d look for the people you know. If no-one you know is there, you have three choices, as I see it; go up to someone and start a conversation, lurk a bit and hope someone comes to you and maybe start a conversation later, or go home. I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but you really do have a choice. I believe each one is as valid as any other and it’s just up to you to pick the right fit for you.

    Bullying is entirely different, and that should not be tolerated under any circumstances, but thankfully I’ve not experienced any of that either.

    Great post GG!

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      • Not at all! To my mind blogging is mostly about personal opinion and that’s what I feel privileged to find on my blog today. If I have struck a chord I am glad, because it offers me another perspective. I’m interested that you haven’t perceived the so-called cliques. I’m not sure who the original complainants have been but I have seen the comment mentioned on a couple of blogs this week and wondered if lots of people perceive it that way. When I started I was certainly aware of groups of people who already knew each other, and personally I was too timid to approach until I was better-established. To be honest, there are still some people I feel I shouldn’t bother with my opinions, but that probably says more about me than them. As I said, those who I have had dealings with have been more than polite and often quite lovely – that was the myth I wanted to bust here, because like you, I am a (teeny) bit more well-known now, and I would hate anyone to think I am unapproachable because of that.
        I wish I had your confidence to just wade in there Chatty!

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  12. Bizarrely, all this talk of cliques makes me think that I’m not part of one, but tbh I’m not totally convinced that they exist. Ganging up for sure, polarised points of view, bloggers who are better known than others, but I’m just not sure about there being cliques! Maybe I prefer to think there aren’t any then it doesn’t matter that I’m not in them.

    Now, as for the institutionalised bullying in society – vis Queen Teen – The Clique …. it totally sucks and I don’t think half of us as mums and dads are aware of how much of this kind of cr@p our kids are exposed to. I’ve been letting the boys watch something on CBBC recently called “Splatalot” – they’ve been having a lot of fun watching and have been indulging in all sorts of alchemy to produce foaming water bottles etc which then get squirted around the sitting room after breakfast (a whole other story)…. anyhow, I digress…. Yesterday, I sat down and watched Splatalot for the first time… it is supposed to be fun, and it is, but it also has a very dark undertone of bullying where the adult “squirters” make fun of the kids – really not nice at all and not something I want my kids to think is OK. It’s so hard when you can’t even trust the BeeB to put on a decent show….. but then I’m often left wondering what on earth is in the heads of those who schedule shows for kids….. don’t get me started on Horrid Henry!

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  13. Sorry, just one more thing – which has arisen as I read another post – where I know that my viewpoint might be difficult/cause offence/upset someone – I just opt to keep out of the comments…. simple….. it’s tricky ‘cos I like people to know what I think, but I’ve also learnt that when you write something down it can stay to haunt your for years to come; so the simple solution is to keep schtum!

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    • Good advice Fiona – it’s a lifeskill I try to teach my kids to think about what effect her words may have before she says them. Sadly I don’t always remember to do it myself. And as for Horrid Henry, my kids were horrible to each other all summer, then one day I banned Horrid Henry on the TV and soon enough they calmed down! I know that TV needs to reflect what goes on in the real world, but I fear the message in Horrid Henry that being horrid is not a good thing gets lost amongst all the stuff they think is cool. I don’t know many Mums that ban Horrid Henry and I feel a bit of a prude, but honestly, life is too short to spend all of it breaking up rubbish little squabbles!
      Thanks for visiting – I’ll watch out for Splatalot (and avoid it at all costs!)

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      • Not a prude at all. We never watched it and then I was thinking I was being a prude so let them have it for a few weeks – we’ve had some abysmal behaviour as a result with my 4yo taking on the “NOOOOOOOOO” as a regular “statement”…. it is now off limits again. Prude or not, it’s much easier to deal with kids who aren’t watching it!

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      • Ohh just had to tell you I have banned Horrid Henry for my 4 year olds, they are too impressionable. It seems to have no effect on my 8 year old but one of my 4 year olds is a nightmare after watching it. The transformation is so visable.

        You are not alone. Mich x

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  14. Not read all the comments as I am strapped for time. I should be ironing don’t you know!!

    Having been around this community for a couple of years now it is funny how the same topics raise their heads every couple of years or so. Newer bloggers always seem to feel established bloggers are in a clique and I do know about 6 very prominent bloggers who are cexceptional real life friends as well as bloggers but they are very open to chat with others too.

    It would be quite easier for more established bloggers like me (but without a gang, boo hoo!) to be envious and think that some of you new bloggers had a clique too but actually I just know you started ou at similar times, had things in common and made friends.

    Blogging is fab, I love to dip in and out of loads of friendship groups and then I have made a few friendships that I cheerish. (like that scary woman you mentioned!!)

    Mich x

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    • She’s lovely really isn’t she? We love you Nickie, we do…..
      Anyway – you are lovely too Mich, but I have to admit I thought you had been arounds eons longer than 2 years! That’s the price you pay I guess for being successful. I wonder if that’s what it is really, are we intimidated by the success of another blogger? If so that’s really sad, but I confess, if I’m honest I am a bit. Or I was before I wrote this post. I am learning some stuff here.

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      • My blog has been around since early 2008, but I only outed myself into the Mummy blogging community in December 2009. I’m a slow starter! lol

        Mich x

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  15. I can’t believe they have a made a video game about that. When I was a little girl, these two girls tried to make me eat grass to play with them, I didn’t do it. It was their loss, I am a good friend! Unfortunately it seems some of the same playground antics go on in the adult world too x

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    • That is awful – glad you didn’t succumb. I am horrified at what our girls particularly are going to face. But I guess it is human nature and kids have to learn to manage it. Not fair though.

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  16. It’s very true if you are intimidated you start creating barriers yourself. When I first started tweeting and blogging I was reluctant to approach people, jump into conversations or even comment on posts. I sloooowly changed and my support network has grown no end!! There are cliques out there but most are not nasty exclusive ones. Some people simply know each other very well, sometimes in real life, so you’ll get things like that. The nasty ones are not worth it.

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  17. Really great post, Unfortunately groups and cliques are a part of life. The one thing which is great about blogging is that you can dip in and out and make genuine friendships with those you have a real sense of connection with. I am very new to blogging, and I am flattered that anyone has bothered to read me and leave a comment. Sometimes those perceived to be in a clique often don’t realise they are in one – just a group of friends who are usually willing to open their circle to newbies. Its trickier being a newbie and again the facelessness of blogging can make it easier to approach others by twittering and leaving comments. But it still takes courage. I am quite shy so I have needed to take a leap of faith. Politness and respect is everything especially when a blogger is bearing their inner world to you.

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