Public Shaming: It’s All Fun and Games, Until Someone Gets Hurt.

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With the rapid growth and popularity of social media over the years, we have started to see a rise in people who publicly shame others due to the anonymity of a screen. I think that it is both disheartening and disappointing that people think that it is okay to bully others, just because they somehow feel more powerful when they make these ignorant comments. After reading the posts and watching the TED Talk that addressed this issue, I know have a better understanding of how uninformed we are when we think that we have the right to bash on someone else’s life.

When reading the New York Times article titled, “How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life”, I automatically noticed how familiar it sounded.”The furor over Sacco’s tweet had become not just an ideological crusade against her perceived bigotry but also a form of idle entertainment,” –I think that due to the enormous amount of social media that we see on a daily basis, we sometimes find cyberbullying to be somewhat “the norm”. I see degrading comments on Twitter or Instagram posts multiple time throughout the course of a day, which makes it hard to realize that what these bullies are doing is genuinely wrong.

Another example of a truly outstanding story regarding public shaming was Monica Lewinsky’s TED Talk. I actually teared up quite a few times while watching this video, because it was honestly one of the most accurate views of the ways in which social media and technology can permanently damage a human being. I specifically took interest in her segment about our “culture of humiliation”, because I agree that public shaming is strongest when other people feel the need to join in. This “price” measuring the profit of those who prey on victims is fueled by the clicks and notifications one receives for their shaming, even though the effects might be detrimental.

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New York Times story covering her “reclaiming her narrative”: This article addressed Monica’s personal reinvention of herself, and how she is no longer remaining silent about her past– and how she plans to move forward in the future. The issue of social media, and how we can strive to make it a more compassionate place, was also a prevailing topic. In Monica’s story she notes that “shame and humiliation have become a kind of “commodity” in our culture — with websites that thrive on it, industries created out of it, and people who get paid to clean up the mess. What happened to compassion? she asked up on stage. “What we need,” she said, “is a cultural revolution.””

How to combat online harassment: While we can’t get rid of all online harassment,I believe that we can do a better job of monitoring these comments, and changing the social perception of their acceptance. The Columbia Journalism Review article titled “The Invaluable Service of Trollbusters” did a noteable job of helping bring awareness to the topic of online hate. This conversation also inspired the idea for a new website, named TrollBusters, which provides support for targets of online harassment, while identifying and combating trolling. I think that the example of Michelle Ferrier and how she ultimately decided to move jobs due to the hateful comments she was receiving just proves the seriousness of the matter, and how many people online are often afraid to use social media due to public shaming. Having outlets such as TrollBusters that offer resources and support will hopefully help to decrease the number of people who think that they can participate in online bullying– without having to pay any consequences.

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