By Paige Ferrari
College of Humanities and Social Sciences Student, Bachelor of Arts in Communications
Online bullying has become the newest form of entertainment for many with a smartphone connected to social media sites. Twitter, perhaps the biggest epicenter for this wide-sweeping movement, can pit people who have never even met against each other.
We say that we are against online bullying. We sign petitions saying so. We share Facebook pictures with a statistic about how many kids get bullied online. It seems that every week there is another story in the news about another teen committing suicide because of the bullies online.
But how many of us have publicly shamed someone for something ridiculous that they have done, voicing our opinion in a cruel and senseless way, for no other reason but to be heard?
Jon Ronson went into detail about the public shaming that Justine Sacco faced when her senseless tweet went out into the world before she boarded an international flight to Africa.
As she was sleeping on this intercontinental flight, the Twitter-verse hounded her, publicly shaming and humiliating her. Not condoning what Sacco was saying on the surface, Ronson explained how the once unknown woman became an Internet sensation.
“You can lead a good, ethical life, but some bad phraseology in a tweet can overwhelm it all,” said Ronson.
Ronson went on to say that the type of humiliation and shame that surrounds people is based on their gender. Males tend to get backlash, demanding for their career to be destroyed. Women, on the other hand, tend to face people demanding that they be fired from their job, raped or even mutilated.
This form of shaming has ruined people’s lives, destroyed their careers and sent them spiraling into depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.
So what can we do?
We can’t shut down every trending shame topic that goes viral (almost daily). But we can be part of the solution by not partaking in the problem.
We need to own the responsibility of what we post on our social media accounts. We are entering a period of time where our every word is associated with our name. Our digital footprint is almost as tangible as our physical one. These issues that plague our society are up to us to change.
Let our words be articulate and purposeful. Don’t let the culture of public shaming dilute the integrity of your character.
Read more about the importance of purposeful communication by checking out our past blog posts.
Jon Ronson. When Online Shaming Spirals Out of Control (2015). www.ted.com
More about Paige:
Paige Ferrari is a senior at GCU studying Communications and serves in the Spiritual Life department as part of the Global Outreach Team. Although she’s from Southern California, Paige finds herself falling in love with the people, culture and lifestyle of Phoenix, and hopes to permanently move here after graduation. She is a passionate writer, reader and coffee connoisseur; she is always looking for some creative words over a cup of coffee.