I had a very interesting interaction this morning on Facebook and it inspired me to take a look at what I call shamecraft, a gathering of like minded, though not necessarily right minded, individuals who sit high on their mighty horses trying to police everyone’s morality. The typical tactics being; reacting overly sensitive to a matter at hand, voicing a very specific outrage (typically based on little to no facts, just feelings), finding others who are like-minded and gravitate to controversy and then trying to verbally beat an apology out of whomever created the source of the outrage. The internet can be a low down dirty place where the most meekish accountant can throw off his gloves and be in a constant verbal Fight Club, slinging around words he would never utter in real life. I think it’s the anonymity of it all that makes people embrace the worst of themselves and I guess when there are no consequences most people are failing to tame the monsters that rest deep inside.
It was an article I read about an editor at Vogue who posted a picture of a homeless person sitting down in the street, reading the magazine – the editor added the caption “Paris is full of surprises. . . and @voguemagazine readers even in unexpected corners!” Now, when I read this I thought two things; man, Paris is so cool even the homeless are interested in fashion, then hey, it’s really great to know because I have a huge stack of magazines I would have never thought to donate to a homeless shelter. Of course these kind of optimistic reactions were swiftly muted by the raging mob that would attack this woman. Not all mob members are equal, you have the more calm folks who stick to simple name calling and then you get the more extreme side that will wish harm in every way imaginable. Who are these kinds of people that were brought up in a way that they would actually wish someone bodily harm or to become unemployed and penniless? Would they want a bunch of people wishing that on them? I bet if all of these people were willing to step out of the shadows and allow us to dissect the complete history and words of their actions there would be a thousand things they themselves could be thrown to the wolves for. I am sure it could be done if you look closely enough at anyone.
In the Vogue situation, a public apology was later released after the editor posed initial resistance to the backlash by asking people why they considered what she was doing to be cruel. I can just imagine the magazine stockholders gathering frantically, voting with ease to throw the editor under the bus and issue and apology rather than risk any possible loss in profits. So what played out more like the begrudged action of apologizing has only fed into the rage mob’s ego and made their monsters stronger. At what point is enough enough? Who exactly does and does not have a freedom of expression? Who is the person who is determining exactly how much morality each stranger on the street should possess and exactly how they should use it?
So, I posted some of my feelings and a link to the story and got a quick response from one of those FB Friend-ish types that you don’t really that well and haven’t spoken to directly for several years. This person claimed that the Vogue situation was exploiting homeless and that the wealthy editor should have been giving that person money. An interesting thought, but not one I agreed with since the photo was a real life moment and not staged, and also I doubt the tweeted photo drove up sales of Vogue magazine in any way. I also suggested to Friend-ish that we have no idea who this editor is on the inside, for all we know she could be the most charitable living editor in the business today and its not up to strangers to tell her how to spend her money. Bottom line is that in my opinion we just don’t know enough to judge, but I did appreciate the FB Friend-ish’s point of view because it give me a chance to gather that particular train of thought. I did however, found out the gratitude was one sided when Friend-ish quickly ended the conversation by unfriending me after reading my response. To each their own, but it’s kind of amusing and a bit serendipitious that someone became so easily offended by something so slight. Don’t worry, I will not be losing any sleep, I love a good debate, I love when my ways of thinking are challenged and my mind is opened to making connections I may have not thought of on my own. I can only conclude that Frend-ish’s real motive in initiating the conversation on my page was just to give me a piece of her mind and maybe teach me a thing or two, and that makes her come off more like a member of the rage mob than not. So, it’s important to pay close attention to your social media connections because as you can see, they are everywhere.
Just my 2¢
What are your thoughts? Are we as a society becoming too sensitive? Are you guilty of participating in shamecraft? Be sure to leave some feedback in the comments section. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this bog and share with your friends!