One of the great things about technology and the internet, is how accessible EVERYTHING is, and that includes the ability to help others during a time in need (crowd funding such as Go Fund Me for example), being able to research and donate to whatever charity you wish, or even having attention brought to diseases such as ALS through the Ice Bucket Challenge. Things such as the Ice Bucket Challenge pick up momentum through social media and take off. Something like the Ice Bucket Challenge has the ability to reach millions and millions of people, where as several years ago, before social media, that just wasn’t possible.
Issues arise with this type of thing though as well though. The ability to “feel like you are doing good” is so easy. Dump a bucket of ice water on your head and that must mean you are doing all you can to find a cure for ALS. Click like or retweet a message about how cancer sucks, and boom, you’ve done your part. Everyone is sending prayers on Twitter because of the most recent natural disaster so you add your “message of hope” and there you go, your good deed for the day is done. I’m sure many people have the best intentions when doing these types of things, but are they really doing anything or accomplishing anything? Or are they just jumping on board with what everybody else is doing in order to not be left out or feel apart of the group?
These actions match up with another aspect of social media that has gotten out of hand. People once again jumping on board for a cause, but this one has more of a mob mentality behind it. Social media is riddled with public shaming. Jon Ronson uses the example of Justine Sacco and the world ganging up and tearing her to pieces on social media over a ill-advised tweet. The momentum of people getting together and shaming someone else was unstoppable.
Public shaming is to easy for people. Once the momentum begins, it’s pretty hard to stop. People don’t want to be left out of the fun of kicking someone while they are down. If you don’t jump on board in the public shaming, you yourself will probably get shamed as well. In order to be apart of the group, to be accepted by the popular kids, you better join in what is essentially bullying. I’m not sure what is so enjoyable able seeing other people suffer or adding to their misery. Public shaming has everything to do with being apart of the group and as Ronson says Twitter in particular, is a “mutual approval machine”. If everyone else is doing it, you better join in.
Twitter and Facebook are where public shaming is taken to another level. Lives can be ruined because of the bullying mentality and how out of hand it gets. Amanda Todd felt that public shaming and bullying in a different way, but the result was obviously devastating. A substantial amount more goes into Amanda’s story, compared to Justine’s, but the a lot of the sames things exist. Bullying, taking an incident and making is much bigger than it should have been, and people trying to take advantage of the situation are just a few of the similarities, not to mention the fact that it’s all a result of something that happened online on social media.
Just like it’s easier for people to change their profile picture to support a good cause as opposed to actually doing something of substance for the cause, it’s easier for people to join the mob to public shame someone instead of trying to look at the situation from a logical and unemotional position and stand up for what is at the time considered unpopular. Amanda Todd got bullied to no end for a bad decision. Being online, made the bullying that much more unavoidable. After Amanda took her life, people step back and see what was going on was wrong. At the time, people get so caught up in what everybody else is doing, that they can’t see what’s wrong with what they are doing. The momentum of the mob mentality is unstoppable.
People make mistakes. Should they be prosecuted with no mercy by the public for it? No, they probably shouldn’t. If it’s an issue worth prosecuting, then take it to the courts. However, the public shaming on behalf of “social justice” is dangerous and it’s garbage. You might jump on Twitter for the night, and in the case of Justine Sacco, take part in her public demise by sending out a tweet or two saying how evil she is and how she should be fired and raped, and retweeting dozens more like it. You then log off Twitter and go to bed, feeling as though you’ve served your civic duty. Meanwhile, all you’ve really done is add to the misery of someone else. The person on the other end of the messages, tweets, and bullying has to live with that for the rest of their lives. And for what? Something that was clearly blown out of proportion by people who basically just want affirmation of their own. Public shaming just sounds like another form of bullying to me.