The Illusion of Power


Diarmuid Hudner
CEO of Cybersmarties Ltd.

“Another illusion is that external events have the power to hurt you, that other people have the power to hurt you. They don’t. It’s you who give this power to them”
— Anthony de Mello

Power is a very intangible force. It can take many forms and many guises both positive and negative. In relation to bullying or cyber-bullying, it is the perceived power of the bully over their victim, which causes more distress and worry than any physical act. In a physical sense, it could be that the bully is bigger, stronger and more violent that their victim. In a metaphysical sense it is this perceived constant threat of impending harm which the bully wields which causes the real damage. In cyber-bullying it is the perceived power of the anonymous bully multiplied by hundreds if not thousands of anonymous bullies which may cause extreme mental harm. Likewise it is the perceived power of certain people, which in most cases is not physical, which can make life a misery. This doesn’t just happen in schools. This happens throughout our lives. Bullying in the workplace is a constant occurrence. The popular person in school or at work may also wield an immense perceived power if they feel threatened or on the contrary if others feel that they too will have power by being associated with them. However the important point here is that power is an illusion, it is perceived to be true. Like the quote by Anthony de Mello above, power is given away, it is not taken.

Imagine for a moment you believed yourself to be a superhero; the most beautiful specimen of the human race, the most intelligent person on the planet, the strongest, the most charismatic individual who ever walked this earth. Imagine that you don’t just believe it; you know it to be true because you have the sight of a laser-eye treated eagle. To you it is a statement of fact. Let’s assume for a moment you are a good superhero like Superman or Wonder Woman, who doesn’t use their powers for anything other than good deeds. Now imagine that someone said you were ugly or that you were stupid. Imagine they posted pictures of you on social media, ridiculing your fantastic superhero’s costume. You would laugh at them, feel sorry for their lack of sight or understanding for how could an earthling ever compete with a superhero? But of course you wouldn’t make fun of them because obviously real superheroes wouldn’t do that kind of thing. Imagine for a moment you had that self-belief, that armour of confidence which insults bounce off. The reality is of course is that you are that superhero. You only stop becoming one when you stop believing you have that power and give it away.

At Cybersmarties, we are continually trying to make every child believe again that they are superheroes. Children with the lowest self-esteem are cyber-bullied the most. They are also the least likely to report someone who is bullying them because they live in fear. In what kind of world do we live in that any child, your child, is too afraid to say anything because of the perceived power that these bullies have over their lives. Every day we send a positive message or video to each child, seven days a week. There are motivational sayings, inspirational videos to constantly drip feed self-belief and create that armour of confidence. In the fully monitored site we watch out for the person who cant fight for themselves just yet, who cannot report a message because they are too afraid. Our system catches it before it can cause damage. We are working on other areas we can boost self-confidence and will continually work at ways because we believe every child is a superhero even if they don’t know it yet.

In my next blog I am going to discuss how the act of a group or community to ignore perceived power is in itself immensely powerful. Gandhi overthrew the British Empire in this way. The Civil Rights Marches in the 1960’s did the same with institutions of bigotry. They succeeded because they ignored this negative perceived power as a group. In my next blog I will apply that logic to a social media platform and a new way of thinking in how we control cyber-bullying for both adults and children and use it like it was meant to be used, to make friends and share experiences from people across the world.

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