Public Shaming

The unfortunate reality today is that cyberbullying today happens all over social media every single day. There are a number of people who constantly post on social media with no filter and no regard to how their words may affect the person they are talking negatively about. A lot of people make comments based on their own assumptions. Either they don’t know the facts or they only know half of the facts from one side of the story, not both sides. I think a large part of why so many people jump on the public shaming train when something goes viral is to get the approval of their peers. It’s a part of fitting in and getting their own attention. They use the hurt of others for their own gain. In fact Monica Lewinsky mentioned in her Ted Talk that people actually make money off of the shaming of others. She said that this gossip gets clicks, which turns over ad revenue. She said that the more we click on this gossip, the more numb we will become of the people behind the gossip.

There are people on social media like Sam Biddle who use the shaming of others for personal gain. He exposed and wrote about Justine Sacco’s saying, “The fact that she was a P.R. chief made it delicious.” Granted what Sacco tweeted was awful and she shouldn’t have tweeted it, she is still a person and every person makes mistakes. Biddle exposing her led to most people only seeing one side of the story and being numb to the person behind the shaming. Biddle even said that he would do it over again. But I thought it was ironic that he himself went through his own shaming when he tweeted a bad joke of his own: “Bring Back Bullying.” I guess what goes around comes around. He eventually publicly apologized to Sacco.

This shaming is also recently found in sports, particularly this year’s NCAA March Madness. Referee John Higgins’ company Facebook page had to be taken down due to Kentucky fans trashing it with hate and bad reviews due to a call they didn’t like. Things like this, especially in sports, can get very heated very fast on social media. I think part of the problem is the sheer amount of people that are on social media. When hate starts it just snowballs down the hill faster and faster by the second and it never goes away.

It is hard for me to think that shaming will ever go away just because of how far deep we are already in it. However, that being said I am hopeful for change due to Michelle Ferrier’s TrollBusters. I think her idea of and online rescue service is great. The target of online abuse can send an alert to TrollBusters and they will then flood the thread (on Twitter, for example) with positive and supportive messages to drown out all of the hate. I think this is perfect because it battles numbers with numbers; because like I said the number of people who join in on public shaming snowballs. If we can overcome the amount of people involved in the culture of shaming with people in the culture of compassion, as Lewinsky put it, I think we can make a start towards change.


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