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Social Media Shaming - For Better or For Worse?

Social media has, without a doubt, given rise to unprecedented levels of communication, interaction and connectivity on a global scale. Each and every one of us now find ourselves under the ever watchful eyes of the world. For the most part I have to say that I consider this to be a positive. Businesses indisputably benefit greatly from the massive reach of social media, musicians and artists have a platform to share their work with mass audiences and world news appears at our fingertips as it happens.

However, the digital world is not without its controversies. From sexist slurs to highly public marketing fails, seldom does a day go by without some form of debate or argument flaring up on the web. Recently, fingertips have been furiously battering keyboards in an effort to name and shame various perceived 'wrong-doers' who have been caught in the act.

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The first I heard of this phenomenon related to driving while using a mobile phone. After legislation was passed in a multitude of countries globally banning the use of phones behind the wheel, hordes of good Samaritans took to their favourite social networks to post incriminating photos of offenders. This photographic evidence is then often used to prosecute the individual in question. In this particular case I look at 'Social Media Shaming' as a positive action.

Likewise, social media has been widely used during the severe drought conditions in California, US in a practice now known as 'Drought-Shaming'. The seemingly ever-sunny state is currently suffering through it's fourth year of the worst drought conditions on record, and water is fast becoming a precious resource. With that in mind, you can understand the disgust of conscientious residents when aerial shots showed acres of luscious green lawns surrounding the homes of celebrities and other affluent figures. Once again, they took to social media. In the months since the online crusade began water wastage has dropped dramatically, with more and more residents either letting their lawns go brown or swapping to artificial alternatives. Again I find myself in support of this initiative.

Here's where the waters get a little murky. In recent months there has been a tide of parents turning to social media for a rather unusual purpose - discipline. Faced with unruly or out-of-control children, exhausted parents have begun to publicly chastise their kids on social media. In some cases it takes the form of a written post placed on their timeline, in others it may be a full video showing the aforementioned child getting screamed at for ten minutes solid until they burst into tears.

The apparent logic behind the craze is the assertion that teenagers have little regard for the opinion of their parents or guardians, but will always respond to peer pressure from their friendship groups. By humiliating them on the web, parents hope their friends will carry on the battle for them, forcing them to make a change.

Many people, myself included, have questioned this practice as the knock-on effects are often worse than the problem they are attempting to correct. Before I even get started on that I must point out that in a lot of cases, on top of being unsuccessful at stopping bad behaviour, these posts and videos are used as a 'badge of honour' by those foolish teens who live under the belief that rebellion for any reason is intrinsically 'cool'. Idiots.

Going beyond trivial matters, there have been some truly harrowing reports of harassment, bullying and even suicide arising from these posts. Kids can be cruel creatures and in a lot of cases all parents are doing here is giving the playground bully a fresh stack of ammo with which to torment their target. In my opinion is seems like some parents have lost sight of the line between discipline and abuse, unwittingly subjecting their children to torment and misery.



Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working as Editor of Social Songbird, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

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Social Media Shaming - For Better or For Worse? Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Friday, June 26, 2015 Rating: 5

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