Avoiding Public Shaming in a Rise of Incivility
We’re living in a era where the majority of people are armed with smartphones and cameras are on every corner. You are no longer afforded the luxury of having a meltdown at an airport or being rude to a cashier (not that you should be), maybe you are angered by a the way someone is driving and decide to slip them your wonder finger……are your kids driving you mad or disturbed by how someone else is parenting their child? Public shaming has now become a way to handle unsettling situations.
In a culture of ‘aim and shame’ you are literally seconds away from becoming Internet infamy and making the evening news. What’s worse is the financial ruin that could follow.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, today your first impression is likely your digital one.
Online reputation, it’s everything today.
Yes — we have witnessed these moments of indiscretions where people have lost their jobs.
There’s no denying how digital life has changed the way we live (and behave) today. Your offline behavior has very real online consequences.
With all this power at our finger-tips, we have slowly witnessed the corrosion of both online and offline civility among humanity.
Using public shaming to shift our beliefs rather than having constructive conversations has become the new normal.
Many people remember the public shaming of Justine Sacco or maybe Lindsey Stone that went viral and cost both women years of online reputational damage. People from all walks of life participated in vilifying these women—the majority never meet them or knew them, however with the click of a keypad, were able to ruin their lives.
We shame to pressure outliers to conform to our norms—even if no one can agree anymore what those standards should be.
Now we are facing offline shaming that is taking a new life online. People that are now in striking distance of a smartphone or camera have become targets of viral humiliation.
Whether it was Permit Patty, BBQ Becky or Pool Patrol Paula, these are all nicknames for average people that made public spectacles of themselves forgetting there is always someone ready to aim and shame your most embarrassing moments.
Short-term gratification, long term ramification.
Alison Kettel, aka Permit Patty, although this incident also was considered a racial issue, it was also something many people that work at home fully understood. When your on a call and there’s a child yelling out your window it can be extremely disturbing. This is not saying what Alison did was correct – by all means, she was wrong. There were so many better ways to handle this situation and she didn’t. She chose the absolute worst way and likely regret its.
Is Alison a bad person? Will this one oops moment define her entire life? Let’s hope not – because none of us are perfect.
How can we avoid public shaming today?
- Be mindful of your surroundings.
- Be self-aware of your actions.
- Anger is temporary, online is forever. If you find yourself getting steamed, walk away.
- Have zero expectancy of privacy — wherever you are.
- Treat others are you want to be treated, always.
Learn more about avoiding, preventing and overcoming online and public shaming – order Shame Nation: The Global Epidemic of Online Hate (Sourcebooks, October 2017).
Are you interested in interviewing Sue Scheff for your segment or article regarding the importance of digital wellness? Contact her.