Putting an End to Social Media Shaming

5 years ago

About six months ago I realized a phenomenon on social media was really bothering me.  "Anonymous" photos of people committing societal, fashion or beauty sins being taken and uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, "People of Walmart"  style websites and personal blogs, all with the intent of mocking their questionable choices.

The irritation began last year around the holidays when I noticed more and more "tacky holiday decoration" contents on radio stations and websites, asking listeners or readers to submit photos of heinous houses in their neighborhood that were decorated in what is considered "not good taste."

Image: Shaming via Shutterstock

And I'll admit, I've been known to roll my eyes at a holiday inflatable (they are just NOT my thing), over-zealous lights and sheer LAPS (leggings-as-pants).  I've even been known to snap a photo on my camera phone and then share it on Twitter or in a text to my friends.

But, as is often case, as the photo sat in my picture roll, I began to feel guilty about my intentions and what I was doing. I don't know why this person thinks that acid washed jeans with Tweety Bird are fashionable, but they are wearing them. Maybe they were given to them as charity, maybe they really like Loony Tunes, or maybe they just don't give a damn about fashion.

Holiday inflatables are beyond tacky (in my opinion, which I realize is just that: my opinion) but obviously they resonate with a good portion of the population. And while I don't like them, how embarrassed would I be if I was mocking them mercilessly only to find out someone I liked and admired had a penchant for blow-up Frosty the Snowman decor?

The truth of the matter is, for all of my opinions and judgment, I know I wear and do things that others probably find appalling. My hair only sees the inside of a salon a few times a year (for shame!) and I've been known to walk in the door, look in the mirror and realize that my "cute" outfit was nothing of the sort. I wear TOMS when I probably shouldn't, and while I abhor people who take part in personal grooming habits on public transportation, I've been known to whip out a mirror to apply lipstick on the train.

And if I ever had a photo taken of me to mock me, and had it shared on social media, I'd die of embarrassment. I'd feel bad about myself. I'd probably cry.

And it was with that thought that I realized that if I couldn't handle the heat, I needed to get out of the kitchen so to speak.

I don't engage when others share "anonymous" photos. I don't take them with my phone, even if I'm truly appalled. (Have you ever seen someone wearing what is essentially a neon bra in court? Yeah. It happens.) A few months ago I saw a blog post being shared around the Internet written by someone who was the subject of a mocking Twitter photo and discovered it through a friend of a friend.

Her feelings on the topic only served to reinforce what I'd already been feeling: anonymous mocking of others is no different from other face-to-face cruel words and taunts, even if there is less of a likelihood the victim will find out.

For those who enjoy the fashion crime photos and contests for bad holiday lighting, so be it. I have no one in mind as I write this, I'm not trying to passive aggressively shame any of my friends who are amused by this practice. I'm just making it clear that I want no part in these photos, and how I arrived at my conclusion. We all do things that hurt others -- intentionally and unintentionally -- and I'm no different from anyone else. I've said and done thoughtless, cruel things to others, some of which I've realized and apologized for, and other moments I wish I could go back in time (5th grade anyone?) to apologize for or undo. But I'm drawing the line here and saying "no more" to using technology and social media to make fun of what offends my sense of taste.

This of course got me thinking about my Pinterrible series, which serves to mock/question/highlight crafts & pins, which is in theory mocking other people's taste. I suppose this illustrates that those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones... and that I have some pondering to do. Do I think Pinterrible is okay because I'm not making fun of pictures of people or is it all the same?

Discussion is welcome and encouraged, because maybe I need to get off my high horse & adjust some of my other practices before I draw proverbial lines in the sand. From my proverbial horse that is tall and standing on a proverbial soapbox OH MY GOODNESS I'LL JUST STOP NOW.


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