Dying of Embarrassment: Why Embarrassing Someone is Murder

Recently I was enraged when a stranger embarrassed me on LinkedIn. According to ancient wisdom, he attempted murder — more on this later. Embarrassing another person is one of the most severe social prohibitions, unfortunately, it is also one of the most often violated.

Here’s what transpired….

I got in a funk after my Father died and took a hiatus from my passion, writing. My father loved my blog and to honor his memory, I regained my resolve to again write stories about investing in startups, life, and the world.

In my writing, I strive to be authentic and raw as I weave my professional role as a venture capitalist and personal life as a single parent of three boys. My hope is to make people laugh, learn and think as they see the world through my Texas Jewess eyes.

Two weeks ago, I was annoyed somebody’s Daddy asked me to find his son a job. My knickers in a knot, I was inspired to write “I’d Never Hire You! Landmines to Avoid When Job Hunting.” The results are modest, but I’m proud 2,047 people read my article on LinkedIn and 19 folks left constructive and positive comments.

But the man who left comment #20 made me grab and cock my virtual glock.

Someone I don’t know, with a Ph.D. and MBA after his name, rudely called out my mistake. I write fast and often miss words. My editing didn’t catch the error. When I wrote about my 16-year-old son finding and getting a job without his Mama’s help, I forgot the words “year-old.” Dr. Ph.D. MBA patronized me with that public correction.

Now, what kind of person takes the time to publicly embarrass a stranger, versus sending me a private message?

A real shmuck.

Note, I’m not writing his name so as not to embarrass him. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

According to the Talmud, the Jewish book of wisdom that gives practical ideas on how to apply the Torah to modern life, says this of embarrassing someone:

“He who publicly shames his neighbour is as though he shed blood.”

Meaning Jewish wisdom interprets embarrassing someone is equal to killing them.

Texas wisdom says, “He’s so low he’d have to look up to see hell.”

But I’m overreacting, right? This happens all the time on social media. Particularly on Facebook and Twitter, strangers shame and embarrass each other every day. It’s so ubiquitous, Jon Ronson wrote the book, “So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

His book highlights how a renaissance of public shaming has swept our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are mercilessly finding people’s faults, go further using shame as a form of social control.

After the last U.S. election, we were exhausted by bullies on both sides hating on each other via social media. But that’s not where the public shamers have been on a killing spree. It’s the cyber bullying of young adults that maims and murders. Studies in Britain have found half of the suicides among youth are related to bullying.

Most my embarrassing moment was when I was 12 years old during P.E. class. After running laps, I realized the cotton balls I used to stuff my bra were littered behind me on the track. Everyone laughed at me. I was devastated. If 34 years ago there were camera phones and bullies had posted my pain on social media, I would have found the drugs my Dad was addicted to and killed myself.

Embarrassment kills.

As a society, should we stand for this? No! Should we hold accountable these murderers of ideas, motivation, and lives? Hell yeah! But unfortunately, most folks, adults and teenagers, ‘let it go’. We’re cowardly to stand up to bullies.

Let’s be real, the rude LinkedIn comment I got was not as deadly to me as an embarrassing Snapchat attack is to an insecure teenager. But if I was weak, Dr. Ph.D. MBA’s nasty comment would have crushed my spirit and killed my motivation to write.

But his attack won’t stop me. In fact, I’m grateful. It’s made me think of how many other people are bullied, attacked and embarrassed at school, in social circles, and in the workplace. Dr. Ph.D. MBA’s behavior inspired me to embolden others who’ve been publicly shamed or witnessed public shaming, to confront their shamer.

The best way to confront them is to tell them you were embarrassed by their actions and ask them to apologize. Maybe they were unaware what they said, did or wrote embarrassed you.

Be kind. Guide them on how to ask for forgiveness. Share these steps:

  • First, acknowledge and show regret for your actions.
  • Then appease the victim at an opportune time, or until (s)he agrees to listen to you.
  • You must feel their pain in your heart and resolve not to embarrass others.
  • If the humiliation took place in the presence of others (like social media), make your apology in the same setting and also in private. Otherwise, the victim can say, “You shamed me in front of others, and now you want to apologize in private. Bring me all the people who heard you embarrass me, and then I will accept your apology.”

However if after asking Dr. Ph.D. MBA for an apology, he does nothing, I’ll remember the Talmud says, “All who descend into Hell eventually leave — except for one who publicly shames his neighbour.”

The reason Jewish wisdom says they’re condemned to Hell for eternity is not that asking for forgiveness doesn’t work, but because it’s highly unlikely that one would genuinely ask for forgiveness for embarrassing someone. Why? Because most schmucks rationalize embarrassing others or simply fail to acknowledge the damage it causes.

Yet, I have faith in the good in all of us. I believe when I send Dr. Ph.D. MBA this article he will atone.

Regardless if he does, I want to inspire you to stand up to the next person who embarrasses you at a party, on social media or via email copying your colleagues.

Defend yourself, defend others, and ask the attackers for an apology.

And if they don’t, Y’all take comfort knowing they’ll rot in Hell forever.


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