Image Courtesy of Stock Photos / FreeDigitalPhotos.net -"I'd like a balloon too - why am I left out?"
Ostracism, in social psychology, means to exclude or to reject somebody. It can encompass invalidating somebody by giving them no credence that their point of view has any truth.
It can involve ignoring somebody so that, such as in a group situation or a cyber-medium like Facebook, people who are close to you never acknowledge you. It’s like you are a non-person.
What are the consequences of being ostracised or rejected? Not surprisingly, short-term the person feels like something is wrong with them, and over time, this leads to a lack of self-esteem. They may feel they don’t have a place in the world, and so do not have a worthwhile contribution to make.
In an assignment I did regarding the effects of rejection, one of the other consequences was that the person who was left out over time demonstrated increased acts of aggression.
As others have ignored their presence they may begin to see themselves as people who are inferior or ‘less than.’
They may not know why they are being treated differently, because they feel they are the same as everybody else. For example, this may happen if a child is of a different race, or is physically very different.
People don’t have to be different, or there does not even have to be a reason for rejection - it may occur for no reason at all. Not surprisingly, however, the consequences are the same.
I was born with a floppy larynx. One of the consequences of this is that I have a very soft voice. At school, when I said something, people would not respond. I did not know why that was…I was told later, with the other kids talking and me so soft, they just did not hear me.
I remember being in the netball team and not having the ball thrown to me. Later it was told to me it was because I was so small, though you had to be good enough to make the team, but I felt like a loser…
A person may eventually shut down. They might feel so sick of being ignored that they cease to use the medium of Facebook, or try becoming close to anybody.
Personally, I have dealt with feelings of invalidation by now only responding, between my writing which is giving me new-found joy to people who have ever bothered or bother to acknowledge me. One of these people is a beautiful person I used to flat with many years ago. She always acknowledges people, and has the insight to know how invalidation affects people.
I used to be depressed and not listen as well as I should, and I feel really remorseful about this. It was to do with me and not others. Now I realise my behaviours toward people I do care very much for may have seemed invalidating, and make every effort to listen.
Lessons I have learned from my own hurts to not affect others similarly are :
1. Never ignore people. Acknowledge what they have said or communicated as soon as possible. Let them know why if you can not. Tell them regularly you are there and in their lives, and that you care about them.
2. Improve how well I listen to others so they feel heard.
3 . If you are the facilitator of a group, where participants have the opportunity to talk or a teacher with children and it's participative, give parties equal talking time.
We are all people and should be treated as such. No matter how small the voice, or how small the person, or what status in society.