Since its emergence, the internet has become a powerful interactive platform. It has driven humanity forward and allowed people to come together in ways previous generations would never have believed.
But the internet has enabled people to reach one another in malicious ways too. It has allowed scammers, hackers, and bullies access to more victims as well as allowing perpetrators to hide behind veritable anonymity. This article will focus on one kind of negativity that has increased on the internet: online shaming.
Digital Interface, Real Shame
Online shaming, generally speaking, is a form of vigilantism in which people are publicly humiliated – usually over social media – for private actions or without wanting public attention.
It can often take the form of a digital lynch-mob destroying reputations and careers because of perceived offenses.
Online shaming can happen in many different ways. Body-shaming – one of the most prevalent in this day and age – consists of pointing out perceived abnormalities in physical appearance, like weight, and indicating that they stem from poor lifestyle habits or choices (i.e fat = lazy or skinny = anorexic). Other examples include mom-shaming, revenge shaming, or even shaming people because of their sexual orientation, race, or religion.
One poignant example is the story of Molly Lensing who was the victim of a massive online shaming campaign. She was spotted on her phone after having placed her infant child on the floor in an airport terminal. The picture offered neither context nor explanation. It was captioned with a quote that indicated Molly was a terrible mother who preferred to play on her phone than pay attention to her daughter.
But in an interview with Today, Lensing clarified that there was crucial context missing from the image. Her flight had been delayed for 20 hours and her daughter, Anastasia, “had been held or in her carrier for many hours. She needed to stretch.” She further explained that she was on her phone to keep her family updated with her arrival time.
Online Shaming Consequences
Targets of online shaming mobs often have to deal with major financial, professional, and emotional fallout. Victims like Justine Sacco, Lindsey Stone, and YouTube star Logan Paul all lost their jobs and reputations as a result of online shaming.
But often the damage can extend beyond career loss. Teenagers were surveyed about their experience with online shaming and expressed the following:
- 41% said they felt sad, helpless and depressed
- 26% felt completely alone
- 18% experienced suicidal thoughts
- 21% felt too ashamed to go to school
- 38% don’t tell their parents they are being harassed online
In his book So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, journalist Jon Ronson explores online shaming as well as shares his own experience as a shaming victim. He writes,
“A life had been ruined. What was it for: just some social media drama? I think our natural disposition as humans is to plod along until we get old and stop. But with social media, we’ve created a stage for constant artificial high drama. Every day a new person emerges as a magnificent hero or a sickening villain. It’s all very sweeping, and not the way we actually are as people.”
Tackling Online Shaming
Fighting online shaming is a real challenge. Online shaming takes place on the internet’s most popular platforms, including social media and messaging platforms, making it difficult to address effectively.
The first step in addressing online shaming is education and awareness. There are many organizations and online movements that are promoting awareness against online shaming and cyberbullying. But the solution needs to be more comprehensive if the problem is to be solved for good.
L1ght’s powerful solution addresses this challenge. With a sophisticated AI algorithm that understands online behavior, L1ght can work in real-time to prevent online shaming as well as other forms of cyberbullying and online toxicity. With so many questions surrounding internet safety, L1ght is the answer.
To learn more, reach out and schedule a demo.