Shaming people on Social Media - the good, the bad and the ugly

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I don't know how many of you are on social media/social networking sites, but it is almost becoming a necessary evil in our lives. At times I envy people who aren't on any social networking sites because there is way too much that happens on these sites almost 24x7. We only have limited mental bandwidth and not knowing how much to spend it on social media can pretty much mess you up. 

I have been observing a recent trend of shaming people on social media and I have been thinking about the good, the bad and the ugly it entails. Here I summarize what I feel about it, feel free to let me know how you do.

The Good

The sheer reach of social media is empowering. A person who cannot possibly even think of contacting the authorities in real life because of hesitation, lack of confidence, lack of information and resources or simply because of the hassle, just needs to write one Facebook post or one tweet, tagging either the authorities concerned or the "social media influencers" and in a matter of seconds, the post can become viral with thousands of people sharing the post or re-tweeting the tweet. 

There is a sense of empowerment one feels when he or she has been harassed or treated badly or duped or cheated by someone and he or she gets the support of thousands of people in shaming the person at fault. The process is definitely easier and quicker, compared to anything that one can do in real life. The people at fault can, in a matter of seconds, lose their reputation, the false image they may have built over the years and in some case, their job and perhaps some relationships too.

It seems fair that people who deserve such treatment get it, quickly and for everyone to see. I agree. But only when the people are actually at fault.

What about shaming someone only on a belief that he/she has done some wrong? That takes us to the next part:

The Bad

The social media space is growing like wildfire, I don't know where it will end or whether it ever will. It is super addictive and has people glued to it. The attention span of people is reducing drastically and blind reliance on social media influencers is absolutely unbelievable. No one has the time to check facts or do any kind of research on an issue - if it is coming from a certain handle or account, it is believed to be true and reliable. No one goes behind the scenes to check if someone had a hidden agenda against someone or if they have any ulterior motives.

Herd mentality was never so widespread and celebrated. It suffocates me when I see this day in and day out. Shaming people in the name trolling and humor is nauseating. There are groups against other groups who leave no stone unturned in their effort to shame each other.

There are different kinds of people on social media, may be some are strong, some not quite. What some people do in the name of trolling is sheer bullying. Not everyone is strong enough to deal with it or fight with it. The indelible scars that this bullying leaves in the minds of people at the receiving end is something that can have devastating effects on a person's emotional well being. The dents the social media shaming makes in a person's life is permanent. The stronger the support to the troll, the harder it is for the person on the receiving end to fight it. Yes, you can leave social media any time, but do you think this can ever be a reason that warrants taking such a decision. I strongly believe no. It doesn't need to be this ugly, speaking of which, let me get to the last part of this post:

The Ugly

This is the part that I can write so much about. I see screenshots on my Twitter timeline every single day of the direct messages received by people. Direct messages that are supposed to be private messages between two people, which are made public every single day to shame people of anything from say bad language skills to the so called harassment when there was actually none or not looking up to the mark for that matter.

The whole concept of having "followers" on social media is flawed. It is turning us all into rude narcissists with little sensibilities towards the "followers".  If you are not following the person who is following you, the person probably doesn't deserve any respect or even a reply, for that matter, he can be publicly shamed for the simple reason that he or she finds you attractive or intelligent or disagrees with your thought process.

Where will this stop, I don't know.  When will this stop, probably never. We all are responsible for it, we all guilty.

Social media is great if used wisely, but we are all human, we aren't wise all the time, understood. But at least we can try to use social media with a little bit of care, sensibility and respect for our fellow human beings. It doesn't hurt, really.