The top news story of the day is about the disturbing trend of ‘shaming’ people for things that have never been shameable before. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it means folks using their cameras to record other people doing what they shouldn’t be doing and then posting it on social media- also known as digitally snitching. And while it seems the right thing to do (and sometimes is), the way it’s being done today is disturbing on a few fronts. One, it’s motivating people to hunt for the opportunity to publicly reveal the faults of others, two because shaming turns entire nations into digital snitches, and three, because people are now being shamed for things they shouldn’t be.
People Shaming For Things Never Shameful Before
Now, many of you young folks have no idea of just how horrific the consequences of snitching can be, so let me educate you. Nazis used shaming, as did Communists, because fear is a wonderful way to divide people and maintain control. For those who have no idea what Nazis and Communists are – geez, Google them! You see, they knew that all it takes is getting a son to rat out his father, and a mother to betray her daughter, for social fabrics to be torn all to hell. They portrayed shaming as the right thing to do, even a civic duty, knowing deep down that people truly want to do ‘the right thing’. The result was millions dying, war, devastating mental illness, and families forever alienated from each other.
Shaming Is Shifting Beliefs
Lately it seems that public shaming is being used more to shift beliefs than to reveal bad people, almost an ugly alternative to the public responsibly engaging in constructive conversation. And sadly, now shaming, aka: digital snitching, seems to have become the new ‘norm’. But, are people blurring the lines between social responsibility, civic activism, cyberbullying and humiliation? Are they using fear and shame to pressure outliers to conform to norms – even when no one can agree on what those norms should be?
Shaming Opens Us Up To Larger Social Divisions
Now while it’s in the public interest to identify public threats, the shaming that’s going on today undermines truth, foments distrust, jeopardizes individuals’ well-being when it comes to physical and emotional health, enables trolls to weaken democracy and community, kills privacy, and opens us up to even larger social divisions. And here’s the really terrible thing; people are now being shamed for doing what they’ve been taught to do, by the very people who taught them how to do it!
We Were Taught To Stockpile
That’s right. We’ve all been taught to stockpile supplies, ‘just in case’. Warnings have been on television, radio, and in print for years, all telling people to ‘prepare for disaster’. Well, lo and behold, when a potential disaster came along, people ran out and did what they were told to do. The problem is that due to the human propensity to procrastinate, damn near everybody did it all at once, and hyped by fear, stockpiled to excess. So government and media began shaming people for what it told them to do, showing shopping carts heaped with supplies as if people were stealing them.
Governments Failed To Plan Properly
All without any apology from governments for not having sufficient stockpiles in place to protect public safety. In fact, instead of accepting responsibility for shortages, governments have demeaned themselves by playing the blame game, setting off a plethora of people pixely pointing out the faults of others, when there’s no real fault at all. This has caused people to fear being viewed by their peers as a ‘stockpiler’, or worse, seeing themselves portrayed as a public monster on social media. And as mentioned above, fear is public enemy number one.
People Need To Validate Emotions
“A lot of people resort to public shaming out of anger and frustration, the desire to call out bad behavior, and the need to feel validated for their emotions,” writes Christine Organ in an essay on shaming published on the blog Scary Mommy. “We feel justified in sharing that photo or video, entitled to call out the rude, crass, or inappropriate behavior… We’re doing the world a favor, thank-you-very-much.” But, are people doing favors when they depict law abiding citizens as putting the public at risk, or innocently butchering the lives of people they don’t even know, believing that they’re doing the right thing?
Beware Of Rights Becoming Wrongs
I ask because social shaming can quickly become an undo-able ‘social tattoo’, ruining lives – financially, emotionally, and physically. And sadly, we’ve seen the worst-case repercussions over and over again from extreme cases of online shaming: people losing their social status, livelihoods, and even taking their own lives. So, whether done in humor, or derived from disgust, before you share a clip shaming anyone for any reason, ask yourself if it’s just you being a self-righteous ass, something that someone has manipulated you to do, or if it’s something worthy of destroying someone’s life.
To check out more top news stories click here, and be sure to browse my other news topics too!