Online Shaming, Public Shaming
and Your Reputation
What goes online can have serious and lasting consequences – whether it’s true or not.
In a society of aim and shame we’re no longer afforded the luxury of an oops moment without risking it going viral.
Having a bad day, a meltdown at an airport or lose your cool with a cashier or waitress? Maybe a biker pissed you off while you were driving? Yes – even inside the privacy of your car and you can fall prey to click-bait.
Never doubt your offline actions can have online consequences.
Today with the majority of people are armed with smartphones, you could easily be the next target of public shaming.
Sue Scheff speaks with media frequently on the topic of online shaming and how it can impact your future, especially your online reputation.
As someone that nearly lost her career due to Internet defamation and cyber-shaming, she offers personal insights and experiences to recovery and tools to prevent these digital disasters.
Did you know that 70% of employers will search you online before they even interview you? 75% of colleges screen their applicants social media behavior before they consider them. This is the importance of digital behavior.
Sue Scheff discusses the following key points:
Re-thinking how you share online
- Is it necessary. It’s time to stop using social media as a venting machine. It’s not only what you share, but how you share it. Think twice-post once.
- Emotional sharing. Never put a temporary emotion on the permanent Internet. Anger is fleeting — online is forever.
- Inappropriate sharing. There’s never a good reason for profanity or sexual content.
- Constructive sharing. Disagree with someone? Be constructive, not combative and give yourself permission to click out if you’re in doubt.
- Know your audience. Before you share your too much, who exactly have you friended? Some experts ask you to pause to think about “what would grandma think” – the real question is, “what would your employer or potential client think?”
Lead by example – bringing civility and safety back
Being a role model is not only for your kids (many people don’t have children) but for your friends, family, colleagues and future. Keep in mind, your potential employer or clients might be watching your online behavior too.
- Never forward hate, gossip or fake news.
- Reach out to people that are being attacked or harmed online.
- Block, flag and report abuse.
- Don’t use social media and drive a vehicle.
- Kindness is contagious. Read stories of good deeds and get involved.
Is online shaming ever useful?
In very rare instances. Overall, using public shaming is not a good idea however there are rare cases where shaming for good has happened.
It starts at the top
Adults are supposed to lead by example for their children, but more and more we’re seeing parents acting like kids, especially when it comes to sports. Parents behaving badly during youth sports is discouraging coaches from taking positions. One way to combat this immature behavior is to capture it on video and upload to social media.
Aren’t parents supposed to be role models? Having a tantrum on a soccer field or meltdown with another parent certainly isn’t the way we expect grown-ups to act. Maybe when it goes viral they will re-think how they behave in public.
Harassment or activism
We have also seen where bullying has been disguised as activism and people have been publicly shamed and tormented unfairly.
Although you may not agree with everyone’s point of view, it doesn’t give you a right to harass or bully them. In today’s increasing world of technology, our keypad is a tool that can be used to help causes or hurt people.
When activism turns into digital or civil warfare, the message will likely get lost and all people will remember is static noise. Change can’t and won’t happen through this type of behavior.
Don’t wait for cyber-combat to happen, have your army ready. Building your online reputation is being proactive. Creating your digital presence through social media, your website and blog — then maintaining it by engaging with your followers will help you if you are ever attacked.
The fact is, no one is perfect, the chance you may end up with a hater someday is very possible. If you build your strong support system, they will likely understand when you have that one troll that is unhappy.
But never underestimate the damage that some trolls can do. Know that 85% of people rely on reviews as much as they do personal recommendations so it’s imperative you keep your online reviews current.
- Respond cordially and promptly to online reviews.
- If they get combative, take them offline as quickly as possible.
- Be pragmatic with refunds and other ways to “make it right” with the customer, even if they’re wrong.
- Encourage (generate) more customer reviews.
Online reputation management basis steps
- Google yourself (business) regularly.
- Set-up your Google alerts.
- Maintain your privacy settings (frequently).
- De-clutter your friends lists.
- Update your website & blog at least monthly. Think of it as an extension of your business card.
Being proactive before a disaster or troll hits will soften the blow tremendously.
Your online behavior is an extension of your online reputation.
Steps to building digital resilience
Today we protect ourselves online from cyber-hate and trolls but the emotional toll can be overwhelming, not only for young people, but for adults too. We all need to be prepared for the dark-side of the Internet.
- Talk to your kids about the ugly side of social media. (People can be mean).
- Learn how to block, flag and report abuse on social platforms.
- Understand that not everything is real – online. There are filters and many ways to manipulate images. There’s a reason why people refer to Facebook as Fakebook.
- Critical thinking. Think about the possible consequences of what you’re about to post. Fifteen minutes of humor is never worth a lifetime of humiliation.
- Make an effort to socialize more offline with your online friends. Communicating solely behind a screen can be isolating.
Avoiding public shaming
In an age of cruelty and trolling we’re all a click away from digital disgrace. Years ago you may have let your anger flare when a speeding car cut you off, or someone accidentally bumped into you while walking — maybe your toddler is having their tantrum and you lose your cool, but today what was considered normal human behavior a generation ago can be your Internet infamy. It only takes one stranger (or worse, maybe someone you know) with a smartphone and you’re moment of indiscretion is now global.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. (It’s not only people with smartphones, video cameras are everywhere today).
- Be self-aware of your actions. (Your offline behavior has online consequences).
- Anger is temporary, online is forever. Short-term gratification is not worth long term ramifications.
- Have zero expectancy of privacy – wherever you are. (Planes, trains and automobiles – included).
- Treat others are you want to be treated. You should have no problem.
Contact Sue Scheff for topics concerning online shaming, online reputation, cyberbullying and issues surrounding digital life for both young people and especially adults. We’re all a click away from digital disgrace. Learn to be proactive with your keypad – not reactive.
If you would like a copy of her latest book, Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks, October 2017) with a featured foreword by Monica Lewinsky please note that in your contact email.