Bullying, Insults and the 2016 Presidential Election

By Jessica Glynn, LMSW

If we step back for a moment and look at Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as basic human beings, instead of considering their political stance, behaviors and history, we might wonder how all of the media coverage has affected their emotional health and self-esteem.

We see media coverage of Hillary Clinton that calls her a liar and a “nasty woman,” countless mentions of her choice of pant suits and even the mocking portrayal of her laugh and the way she blinks on Saturday Night Live's comedic depiction of the debates. On the other end, Donald Trump’s mouth has been compared to a not so flattering part of the human anatomy, his hair, as always, is a source of comedic scrutiny and there are never ending joking about his voice, hand movements and attacks on his character. Whether we are behind one candidate or the other, one could assume that all of this bullying and insulting would affect a person greatly. Perhaps the particular level of narcissism and ego of someone in the public eye on such a large scale helps them to cope, but it leaves me asking myself where human decency stands during this election. 

Many Americans are vocal and open about how they feel about the opposing candidate, with few nice things to say. What example is this setting for the youth of America with regard to insulting and bullying others? Recently, Paris Jackson spoke out about cyber bullying which led to a suicide attempt. Our words can affect others greatly, regardless of their social or financial standing. The perception of others can cause us to question how we perceive ourselves, which can lead to unhealthy and damaging thoughts. Before engaging in an emotionally charged conversation, consider the following:

  • How would you feel if a similar statement were said to or about you? 
  • Are the statements you are making deliberately hurtful?
  • Are you speaking from a place of anger, spite, vengeance or sarcasm?
  • Is what you are about to say constructive in any way, or is it coming from a place of malice?

Typically, when we say things to people that are deliberately hurtful, we do not feel great about ourselves afterward. And in that case, no one wins. Try to remember to be kind and consider others feelings, especially during this emotionally charged election!

Jessica Glynn, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you find yourself seeking support for unhealthy communication, visit cobbpsychotherapy.com to learn more about how therapy can help.