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Love Notes – The shame in public shaming

Posted on July 2, 2015 by Maple Creek

By Marcia Love

One hundred years from now, when future generations look back on the 2010s, it will be known as the decade everyone was offended by everything. As a result, it will also be remembered as the era public shaming ran rampant.
And it sometimes makes me wish I was born in a different time.
Every time I open my laptop and cruise through the news-of-the-day according to the social media world, it seems there’s always someone who feels it’s his duty to bring another’s fault or opinion into the public eye for judgment. And a part of me silently feels for the individual being shamed.
In a way, public shaming really isn’t anything new. We’ve been doing it to politicians and celebrities for years. The only difference now is the average Joe is no longer free from it.
It’s easy to forget that there’s an actual human being on the receiving end, and while we can set down our phones and tablets and soon forget what was said, the recipient won’t.
It’s even easier when we don’t know the individual directly. It takes just one or two people who have a bone to pick to find others who will gladly follow, if only for the sake of feeling included.
Ironically, public shaming only makes me think less of the aggressor than it does the person in question.
It should be noted there’s a big difference between news and gossip. It’s news when two Canadians are arrested for allegedly posing naked atop a mountain in Malaysia, resulting in accusations of causing a deadly earthquake. It’s gossip when a screen shot is taken of someone voicing their opinion on assisted suicide, Buddhism, or declawing cats in a text or private message, then posted online for all to judge.
Using a public forum to air a private matter in an attempt to humiliate someone is not cool. And most people likely don’t even realize the impact it can have on those not strong enough to face dozens, hundreds, or thousands of voices telling them they’re a horrible person.
How many people – youth and adults – have been pushed beyond their limits from the online backlash they’ve received for a mistake they made, or were perceived by others to have made? It’s no wonder there are as many mental health problems as there are today.
I’ll admit getting upset and offended and wanting others to know how I’ve been wronged is something I struggle with, too. We’re all human, we all have our ways of venting frustrations. But because we’re all entitled to our own opinions, those around us are as well. And we need to respect that.
The way I see it, there are three ways to get over a personal grievance without turning it into an online throw-down: for minor injustices, move on. For medium-sized ones, find a friend to vent your frustrations to, then move on. For major “seeing red” offenses, go directly to the source. If an offence is so hurtful it affects how you feel about someone, take it up with them. In private. Like mature adults used to do before Mark Zuckerberg came along.
Let’s tone it down. Does the woman who parked in the handicapped spot really need that picture slapped on Facebook with the word “moron” thrown in the caption?
I’m so thankful social media was non-existent when I was growing up. Shy kids like me had a hard enough time without having to deal with others tearing us apart online for every little thing.
We’ve all said and done things without thinking, and it’s bad enough having our own group of acquaintances upset at us about it, let alone the masses online.
A part of me hopes it will eventually become uncool to live out your life online. It only took one or two decades for failing in school and not caring to no longer be considered “cool,” so there’s always the chance the next generation will decide actually interacting with people and not mindlessly bringing them down online is the new in-thing.

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