The Shaming Game

Shaming

Shaming. Not a game that I’m fond of. Particularly because my mother was fond of the practice and I have loathed it my entire life.

I’ve been guilty of it, too, and I’m trying to readjust my thinking and behavior on the matter, but, I have tried very hard not to stoop to the level of calling out individuals and trying to embarrass them, publicly.

You see it a lot on social media. You see it the tabloids (some actress deigned to go out in public without make-up! Oh, the humanity!) It’s everywhere, actually.

Sometimes, it’s innocuous. People on Facebook, for instance, posting memes about how when they were kids, they played outside until the street lights came on and how today’s kids wouldn’t be so spoiled if we took away internet and made them go outside. Never mind, that, these days, cities grow within, before they grow without, meaning that streets were much safer to play in, “back in the day”. Nowadays, there are few parks for kids to wander to and due to more roads and more traffic, those few parks are dangerous to send your kids to. Never mind that, today kids have more homework, even in the summer, than their parents did and there is less time for kids to play outdoors, never mind, until the street lights come on. Sure, getting to play outside until dusk was a wonderful thing, “back in the day”, and it’s fun to reminisce, but shaming today’s parents for not letting their kids out until dark, is just silly.

Sometimes, it’s more obvious, like comparing one type of woman to a supposedly different type of woman. For instance, comparing a thin woman, in workout gear, with six kids with a fat woman, likely looking slovenly, with three kids with the words “What’s your excuse?” We rarely know the real back story of any of the characters in these memes, only what the original poster means to imply. There are no questions about if the fat woman is considered healthy by her own doctors or even if she may actually workout as much as the thin woman. All the pictures actually show are two different portraits taken during different times in these individuals lives. I’ve seen plenty of pictures of fat women, in workout gear, with their kids, having fun, exercising, but you never see those two portraits together because they don’t support the purpose of the meme: To shame fat or obese women. I’m a fat woman, so I speak from experience and from chatting with other big women, these memes do nothing but cause resentment of the poster (and/or the individual with the “positive” portrayal in the meme). I have never heard once, in the history of the internet (and I’ve been online since before AOL was a thing and I had an email address that was 28 characters long), “Wow, that meme really got me motivated to eat less and workout more!” If you have concerns about fat people, unless you know the person’s history and, thus, know them personally, tell it to their face. Otherwise, save your shaming. It just makes you look mean.

Last, but not, by far, the least, is kid-shaming. It breaks my heart to see parents publicly shaming their kids, sometimes, even berating them, to their faces, on camera. I consider that abuse. I even imagine, if the internet was as much a thing, when I was a kid, as it is now, my own mother would have done the same thing, and it sickens me. I don’t see a kid being disciplined so much as I see a parent putting on a show for their social media friends. And, I don’t believe for one second that the kids involved aren’t resenting their parents for putting them on blast. Just like nasty relationship drama and bad break-ups, that kind of crap does not belong in the public sphere. It’s one thing to post how Little Timmy got grounded in brief status up-date (that’s bad enough), but to post the entire show of how you did it, to score high-fives from your friends, is cruel and is not a sign of good parenting, but, is a very good sign of bullying, though.

Even trying to shame people, in private, rarely ever gets the results that you are looking for. In my opinion, it’s best to either let it go (if you have disdain for scantily-clad women vs modest women, for instance) or find a way to handle things more mindfully, like sitting down and having a heart-to-heart with your kids about limiting their online gaming time, (without being sanctimonious about it, “back in my day, we didn’t even have Pokemon GO. We just went and played in traffic without a single phone in sight. Heck, if we wanted to text our friends, we had to light a fire and send smoke signals before we went to school, in twelve feet of snow, uphill, both ways, with only a paper airplane to play with! You kids got it good!).

Of course, this is only my opinion. Your mileage may vary.

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