What’s the deal with name calling?

In previous posts, I have referred to a site called The Patch, a good site that offers local news and information, as well as a discussion page.

I live in a pretty conservative area, and some of my posts calling for schools to remain closed, advocating for Kamala Harris to be named Joe Biden’s running mate, promoting the wearing of masks and generally suggesting that the pandemic is, in fact, not a hoax, have raised the ire of some posters. And that’s OK.

Recently, one poster called me a number of names, including idiot and moron, and that, too is OK. But being a curious sort, I wondered why people do that and not put forth reasonable arguments or responses.

Before I proceed, this is how I responded to the person who tried to bully me:

          “At least I don’t call people names. Although I have firm disagreements with people on the Patch, I believe in their first amendment right to speak their minds without being called names. That even goes for you.”

Before I responded to this person further, if I do, I figured I’d do some research into name-calling, and what I found was interesting, although not surprising. The first thing I discovered was that it’s mainly children, and one U.S President, who routinely name call. The device is used to bully, make others feel bad, and make the name-caller feel better, my research showed.

It’s also used when people have nothing valuable to say. Blogger David Grace writes, “When someone’s arguments take the form of personal attacks and name-calling, it’s a pretty clear admission that they don’t have anything valid or worthwhile to say.”

When someone can’t logically disprove an argument or opposing point of view, or can’t make their own argument, they resort to name-calling. That is, they take the easy way out.

Verbal abuse such as name-calling is not only annoying, but dangerous a well.

According to the website Disability Justice, https://disabilityjustice.org/verbal-and-psychological-abuse/, “words can cause as much lasting harm as physical abuse.

“Verbal abuse can be used to intimidate, threaten or belittle and to cause emotional pain. Verbal and psychological abuse can include everything from yelling and name-calling to direct threats of physical harm or threats against people or things that are important to the other person as a way of instilling fear or gaining power and control.

“Like other forms of abuse, verbal abuse often goes unreported. Adding to the challenge, verbal abuse is often unrecognized because attempts to blame, shame, humiliate, intimidate or threaten are often disregarded as ‘jokes,’ the recipient is told he or she misunderstood the person’s intentions or is called ‘too sensitive.’ As a result, verbal abuse can be difficult to prove.”

When it’s written, though, as in this case, abuse is easy to prove.

The trick is to understand all this and not let it get to you.

Only insecure adults name-call, and, usually, they are not very intelligent in that they don’t know how to rationally respond to a comment or statement with which they disagree. They use name-calling as a defensive measure and believe they win arguments by insulting others. It probably also makes them feel better, and believe that “they won.”

Children, however, probably just think it’s funny to call someone a name, and may even be emulating behavior they learned from their parents, siblings, or other adults, perhaps ones they see on TV. Why our president does it has more to do with his upbringing, mental state and his inability to engage in honest debate thanks to his lack of verbal and cognitive skills.

Regardless of the reason, we, as adults, need to basically suck it up and not respond in kind. In some cases, that could lead to violence, bad feelings between people or even stress-related health problems, such as ulcers and high blood pressure.

And it’s just not worth lowering yourself to their level. They call you a name, you respond in kind and it goes on and on, and nothing gets solved. It’s best, although sometimes difficult, to just ignore it and move on.

Besides, name-callers are just goading you and expect a response. By not giving them one, you win.

Published by Mike Sturman

I am a retired journalist with nearly 30 years in the field, during which time I was a reporter and held numerous editor positions at local newspapers and a number of magazines. After I retired, I was a sub in my local school district, then did PR for that district. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in journalism, and as for my politics, that's simple: I'm a liberal Democrat. I'm married, and my wife recently retired after 25 years as a teacher. We have one daughter, who has earned her PhD and works at a UC. Through this blog, I hope to pass on some interesting thoughts and ideas, entertain with some lighthearted posts and generally quell my pandemic-induced boredom.

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