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Stranger Shaming is Alive and Well Online

Marion Charatan

Posted on March 31, 2019 17:40

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A researcher at the University of Kentucky has concluded that humiliating strangers online is creating more and more problems.

It is a mystery to me why some people are so petty and narrow-minded—and why they take it upon themselves to believe it’s OK to ridicule others online. We all know someone famous or anonymous who's guilty of this! Well, they’ll never get a pass from me.

Social media posting is a phenomena that's been around for a long time. If you're categorizing 'social media' as incorporating online communication, Six Degrees was the earliest social media website. Named after ‘six degrees of separation,’ it reigned from 1997 to 2001. Users would create their profiles on Six Degrees and then 'friend' other users.

I understand there can be positives to outlets like Facebook -- keeping in touch with family and friends, posting inspirational messages, sharing business tips, etc. but in general, I'm not a big fan. What happened to the the 'old-fashioned ‘ tried and true method of simply emailing or texting that parent, brother, sister, cousin, friend or whoever else it is you want to relay information to, individually? Or how about a phone call?!? (that dates me!) I don't care to see someone I don't know romping with their kids, grandkids, on vacay in Hawaii, or whatever they're doing and frankly, I don't blame them if they don't want to visit me in my daily activities, either. Ah, just call me cynical...

Yes, social media is a great catalyst to advertise and sell your business or a product, but I can't stand the trolls who delight in bullying online. The increase in shaming on social media has now extended to stranger shaming.

In 2018, the talented teen actor Millie Bobby Brown of "Stranger Things" won a Movie and TV Award for the second year in a row. However, she deleted her Twitter account because her image was used without authorization for homophobic slurs. The 14-year-old actress supports the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and was rightfully appalled.

Brown wisely said, "Since I know there are many young people watching this, and even to the adults too, they could probably use the reminder that I was taught - that if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it." Hear, hear!

It didn't come as a surprise to me that a researcher concluded cyberbullying is dangerous. Lauren Cagle, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky, studied why "stranger shots" (her term) are part of the norm and growing in epidemic proportions.

The professor said that people taking jabs at strangers are "feeding into a cultural narrative about what people are supposed to look like or how they're supposed to behave."

Who has the right to insult anyone? These cowards have to quit the bullying. Their hatred and insensitivity is adding to the increases in depression and suicide.

As for me, I'm off Twitter and in the process of deleting other accounts, too....

Marion Charatan

Posted on March 31, 2019 17:40

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