Social Media our Public shaming tool.
What exactly are we looking into?
In this day and age the pros of technological developments are widely recognized, our developments are applauded as we humans congratulate each other on our constant improvement and development of technology. What does not happen very often is taking a look at the negative affects that our new interconnected world has developed with the progress of social media and the increasing connectivity we experience through the internet and the countless websites that we use. One of the largest problems of having information so accessible is that bad news travels fast and so do rumors, private information and issues of abuse that are subject to public shaming. That brings me to my main focus, How can we protect ourselves in a world that thrives on social media and public shaming? Protecting ourselves first of all from being on the receiving end of public shaming and also make sure we don’t jump on the bandwagon and join the mob when we see people shaming someone for doing something wrong.
When should we intervene and when should we keep to ourselves?
This is one of the roots of the issue of mobbing and mass public shaming, everyone believes they are doing a noble thing, they are standing up for what is right so naturally after doing what we presume is a noble act we feel proud of ourselves and are reassured by our actions that we are “good people”. For example you are scrolling through your twitter feed and you notice a tweet that says something you find horrible racist and you are disgusted and you repost the tweet and give your angry response, you feel good you did a good thing, or did you? First there is a certain way in which you point out discontent with someone’s opinion and place your opposing views. You should if you have any goal or purpose other than to stick it to that person approach them and their opinion with respect no matter how ridiculous or absurd it sounds to you, the first step to convincing someone to change their opinion is to acknowledge their original views. There are times when public shaming is effective and can have positive effects on the person being shamed, for example in the state of Florida a judge made a punishment for shoplifting of things of value under 300$ punishable by standing outside the store from which you stole from holding a large sign saying “I stole from this store”, this publically shames the person for their mistake and would hopefully teach them a lesson to never steal again here is radio excerpt that you can listen to the first 11 minutes deals with this issue . There is also an amazing story about a young woman called who dreamt of being a sportscaster at espn since she was a little girl that was privately shamed by her dean in her university after failing to meet the standards that were set and she was called an embarrassment, she felt horrible but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise since that was a defining moment in her life that made her change her approach and achieve what she needed to and eventually go onto greater things and achieve her dream, her full speech where she tells her inspiring story. The point of all this is to show that different situations call for different measures and if shaming is necessary there are different methods. My in detail thoughts on these two incidents.
When Public shaming escalates too uncontrolled levels.
There are countless stories about public shaming but there are 2 i would like to share with you that i feel highlight the problems with this culture of mobbing and shaming people for their mistakes in massive numbers. The first incident i want to talk about is one of the most famous controversies in american history, Monika Lewinsky was publicly shamed for a mistake that thousands of people have made before her and thousands will continue to make that same mistake, so why did the world find out about her affair? It was with the president of the United States. She was publically shamed to the point where she would have to be watched 24/7 by her family to insure she didn’t harm herself, does anyone no matter what they do really deserve that? Think about it. What if you were publically shamed and humiliated in just your school let alone the entire world what effect would it have on you? Eventually Ms. Lewinsky was able to lick her wounds and heal from the massive abuse she received she gave a ted talk about public shaming where she tells her story and the story of others to open peoples eyes on how the harmful things they say can have endlessly negative effects on the person receiving the abuse. A more modern incident of public shaming is Justine Sacco’s incident that involved a series of irrelevant tweets about her thoughts while she was travelling on vacation and just before boarding a 10 hour flight she posted a tweet saying “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” this was intended to mock the bubble westerners seem to think they have around them that protects them from a disease such as AIDS. The world saw it as it is and did not care to think of what it may mean instead they judged her as a racist inhuman person and just by casting their opinions and sharing her post around the world she was publically shamed called mean things and lost her job, all this while she was still on the plane without having the chance to explain herself until it was far too late. My ideas further explained in more detail with a ted talk about this matter. There are countless incidents of public shaming that has gone too far and here is an article on 6 of these unfortunate events that could have been avoided.
The psychology behind our desire to be part of the mob.
The psychological factor behind our decision to go along with the group and do just as others is doing is in my opinion the most important one and when you mix that with the misconception that you are doing a good thing and you can look in the mirror and think of yourself as a good person that stands up for what is right you have a very difficult action to avoid. The psychology behind it simply says that we as humans through our evolution and our survival have learned that belonging to some sort of group helps keep us safe and survive and so when an opportunity such as being involved in mass public shaming arises we mindlessly tend to snatch at it and be part of the group. My Expanded more in depth thoughts about this matter.
How do we deal with this issue?
First focus on what you can do on a personal scale, be very careful about the things you post and say online and that they are not things that can be subject to mass public shaming and also becareful what you send or tell people because not everyone is worth trusting. Second resist the natural urge to follow what others are doing and participate in publicly shaming someone for doing or saying something that you are offended by or do not agree with, instead explore your options which are stay silent, move along forget it or if you really feel the need to say something maybe consider the option of doing so privately and if you feel the need to do or say something publicly make sure you do so with respect and simply address the issue rather than attacking the person who you think deserves to be publically shamed. After you have made sure of those things share this with your friends and raise awareness about the issue the our ever so interconnected world brings with it and how we can avoid causing unnecessary pain and harm to others.