It’s come to be known as “social shaming”. It’s when people attempt to shame someone for their bad behavior by posting it online. In some cases it goes viral, with millions of people finding out and engaging in the shaming. It seems like the ultimate revenge, right? Someone offends you, and suddenly you’ve got thousands of people rallying to your defense. What you seldom hear about is, as Paul Harvey would put it, “the rest of the story.”
MSNBC.com digs a little deeper and finds out just how well things go for social shamers. One example:
Last March, amid the ongoing debate over rampant sexism in the tech community, software developer Adria Richards tweeted a picture of two male attendees at the PyCon Developers Conference who were making jokes by using the tech words “forking” and “dongles” as doubleentendres.True, Internet outrage emerged, but opposing camps formed, and much of the righteous indignation was directed against Richards. One of the men in the photo lost his job. Richards, who received rape and death threats via Twitter, lost her job, too.
We’re forgetting what the Internet really is: A near-infinite number of monkeys on a near-infinite number of keyboards with near-infinite amounts of time on their hands. Many of those users have nothing better to do with their time than make people’s lives miserable whether they deserve it or not. And the vast majority of them are safely anonymous. Call too much attention to yourself and the random harassers go to work, just because they can, and you are victimized all over again.
It’s sad but true. No good deed goes unpunished online. And no one is so bad that there won’t be someone go to their defense for no better reason than “I’m bored,” or “I don’t like how she looks,” or “he mispelled a word.”
As Andy Warhol once, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. These days fame is tantamount to painting a bullseye on oneself.