A recent study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed what everyone already instinctively knew without needing a well-funded study from some hifalutin scientific institution: Being bullied is bad for your health.
But the study also revealed that the inverse is also true: Being a bully is good for your health.
Analyzing a database that followed 1,420 children from ages 9 to 21 and measured their blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP)—which leads to inflammation and a resultant slew of physical ailments in adulthood—researcher William Copeland concluded that being bullied led to higher levels of CRP among bullying victims than among those who weren’t bullied at all. But the bullies tended to manifest even lower levels of CRP than normal children and thus better health than your average shlub who is neither a bully nor a victim:
…there is evidence that…pure bullies, gain benefits from bullying others without incurring costs and may be healthier than their peers, emotionally and physically….
In a cultural climate heavily invested in the idea of equality and that everyone should get a cupcake and a gold star and a pat on the back and that there should be no clear winners and losers, these test results are jarring. They suggest that despite all the mantras and marches and posters and campaigns and T-shirts and surface jargon, social structures are innately and unavoidably hierarchical. They imply that it is healthier to be mean than to be passive, no matter how you frame your cause.
One of the most consistently puzzling things to me about latter-day social-justice lynch mobs is their innate meanness and viciousness, since their entire philosophy is predicated on the idea that they are the underdogs who are fighting the bullies. But that’s patently untrue, as it’s obvious that they now have the social and political weight on their side.
I’ve always been amused but perplexed at how much seething hate is hurled these days at the alleged “haters,” whether they be “racists,” “sexists,” or “homophobes.” The ones who get banished from the herd with extreme prejudice and hatred are the bullies of yesteryear, not of today. If you objectively scrutinize what’s being said and done, far more vitriol and dehumanizing rhetoric flows from the self-righteous mouths of those who claim to be fighting “hate.” The most flagrantly hateful people of the past few years—in both words and actions—do it in the name of love and compassion and basic human decency. Ironically, the purported “haters” are relatively tame compared to those who are attacking them.
What this says to me is that all of these superficially innocent social struggles have never really been about equality—they’ve been about winning. Their main goals, consciously or at least instinctually, have not been to foster harmony but to establish new social pecking orders. In a very weird and depressing way, it seems that although the good guys and bad guys may change costumes, the haters and bullies always win. Apparently, that’s nature’s way. In the long run, despite the lip service they may pay to fighting for the underdog, people would rather come out on top. Judging strictly from their behavior instead of what they say, they’d rather be hypocrites than unhealthy.