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Shaming – A Chronicle of Public Humiliation

The Internet is an excellent platform for freely expressing opinions, but all too often serves as a means of harming a person’s good name. It frequently does this by publicly shaming a person or a group of people with the aim of humiliating, ridiculing, or discussing an action or behavior attributed to that person by using social media networks in order to condemn  behaviors considered inappropriate.

Online shaming is expressed in a number of ways with the common component being the desire to bring humiliation and insult to the other side, whether by exposing private information about a person, deliberately posting negative feedback, using offensive and violent language on a social media network with a large number of users, and in more extreme cases, publishing images and videos depicting sexual or violent scenes, without the consent of their participants.

The phenomena of shaming have been known for many years, even before the Internet burst into our lives, but it seems that their integration with the social media networks and messaging apps has made them particularly devastating. In fact, the Internet creates a sense of anonymity and detachment from the other, allows distribution of content with exceptional ease and speed, thus providing a comfort zone for all kinds of shaming in almost every area.

When it comes to children and adolescents, the phenomenon becomes even more severe and with destructive consequences on their lives, both in terms of the intensity of the injury, the sensitive nature of the post and the speed with which it is distributed, which sometimes leads to sealing one’s fate and a sense of real distress.

As such, it is clear that the ease with which each online user can upload posts to the Internet without the possibility of filtering out inappropriate speech could cause great harm to victims of the posts with no fault of their own.

The question is how can we protect ourselves from the growing phenomenon of online shaming? Well, complete protection from shaming is likely slim to none, since anyone who possesses a computer or smartphone can commit the sin of shaming; however, it seems that teaching moral values and refraining from harmfully using the variety of social media features can reduce the scope of this phenomenon, which is unfortunately common in many countries and communities.

One of the suggested ways to deal with the various forms of shaming lies in understanding that in the era of digital media, we must avoid, as much as possible, keeping photographs or videos whose distribution may harm our privacy or that of others. In addition, should we be exposed to such content through messaging apps or other web-based platforms, it is our duty to refrain from distributing them, otherwise we will be exposed to criminal offense charges by law enforcement authorities.

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