Kirstie Alley, an actress on the beloved 80s’ TV show “Cheers,” recently became the target of “mobbing” or group bullying when she tweeted her support for Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Her experience shows why so many Trump voters become “shy voters” who are reluctant to share their support for Trump.
The impact of shy voters on national polling in 2016 is thought to be one reason Trump’s election was such a shock to the national media. So called shy voters were afraid to identify their voting preference to pollsters, provided false answers when asked who they planned to vote for, or refused to participate in polls altogether.
As a result, the New York Times reported on election day 2016 that Trump had a mere 15% percent chance of victory.
Not much seems to have changed in four years. Some supporters of Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden still greet a declaration of support for Trump as an invitation to bullying.
Swedish psychologist Heinz Leyman studied “mobbing” or group bullying in the 1980s. Mobbing refers to hostile and unethical communication directed in a systematic manner toward an individual who is effectively divided from the pack. The harm to the victim escalates exponentially over time. Leyman concluded that mobbing drove many nurses to commit or try to commit suicide.
Leyman developed an “Inventory of Psychological Terror” to identify mobbing tactics that includes the use of demeaning names, sexual innuendo and ridiculing the target’s “political or religious beliefs.”
Alley unleashed a torrent of hostile (and personally offensive) invective on Oct. 17 when she wrote:
“I’m voting for @realDonaldTrump because he’s NOT a politician. I voted for him 4 years ago for this reason and shall vote for him again for this reason. He gets things done quickly and he will turn the economy around quickly. There you have it folks there you have it.”
Some of the responses to her tweet are:
“Shelly Long was way funnier than you, “ filmmaker Judd Apatow, referring to the actress that Ally replaced on Cheers.
“I’m voting for Biden because I have a brain,” Joe Lockhart, a communications professional and spokesperson for former Democratic Pres. Bill Clinton.
“Sam Malone was right to dump you,” Warren Orr, who identifies himself as a Professional Golfing Association professional. He was referring to the male lead character in Cheers.
Many tweeters referred disparagingly to Alley’s well-known weight loss battle. Some posted what Allie called the “ugliest” photograph ever taken of her. There were negative comments about the fact she has aged since playing the character of Rebecca Howe, bar manager on Cheers.
Sara @trisaratops280 tweeted: “It’s her last grasp at being relevant, which kind of worked cause I thought she was dead … but I guess that’s just her career.”.
Alley seemed, temporarily, to lose her typical aplomb.
“Don’t think I’ve ever seen so much name-calling in my life. Definitely not on my site here anyway I guess I’m not allowed to have a viewpoint without being called a really nasty names by what I’m going to suppose are really nasty people,” she tweeted.
Clearly, the phenomenon of the shy voter is still in play this year and perhaps more than ever. This raises questions about the veracity of candidate polling. Is Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden really solidly ahead of Trump in the race?