Category: digital culture

Online Shaming Gives Creeps the Spotlight They Deserve:

When Lucky Strike server Laura Ramadei reportedly felt a male customer touch her ass “ever so gently” as he told her that he’d like to take her “to go,” she knew exactly what to do. Not only did she rebuff his awkward advance in person, she went home and did some sleuthing. By plugging the name on the receipt—Brian H. Lederman—into Google, she found her harasser right away: Lederman is a hedge-fund manager who works with Swiss Performance Management and Truehand AG.

Ramadei posted Lederman’s receipt to Facebook along with her story, eventually drawing widespread media attention to his alleged misdeed. For his part, Lederman denied the accusation but didn’t do himself any favors by telling the New York Post that he has nonetheless “grabbed plenty of girls’ asses in [his] life.” In this same interview, he also called Ramadei a “cunt” and threatened to destroy her chances of employment in New York City. Now, when you Google “Brian Lederman” the first result describes him as someone who “grabs a lot of asses.”

Revenge, it seems, is a dish best served through search engine optimization.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Some Are Troubled By Online Shaming Of Charlottesville Rally Participants:

“Yes, You’re Racist” is the name of a Twitter account that has been very active in posting pictures of white supremacists at the Charlottesville march and rally. Logan Smith, who runs the account, thinks other people should see the faces of white supremacists.

“They’re not wearing hoods anymore — they’re out in the open,” Smith says. “And if they’re proud to stand with KKK members and neo-Nazis and anti-government militias, then I think the community should know who they are.”

Smith says he didn’t attend the rally, but he has been getting pictures from activists who were there. They share them through social media. He reposts them on his Twitter account. And on Twitter, people are happy to help him make these individuals even more public.

“Immediately, as soon as I posted those photos people (were) saying ‘Oh! I went to high school with this person.’ ‘I had a class in college with that person.’ ‘I recognize this person as a prominent white supremacist in my area.’ ”

After getting more information, Smith would add names and places to the photos, leading to some consequences in the real world.

Cole White, who used to work at a hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., “voluntarily resigned” on Saturday after his employer confronted him about his participation in the rally.

The father of participant Jeff Tefft felt he needed to post a letter in a local newspaper disavowing his son. Pearce Tefft says that although he and his family are not racists, once his son’s face and name were posted on social media they became the targets of people upset with his son.

David Clinton Wills, a visiting professor at New York University who follows social media, says he is troubled by the way that anti-racist activists are using Twitter. “Never in my lifetime did I remotely think I would vaguely defend the rights of a possibly very hateful person,” says Wills, who is black and Jewish.

Nonetheless, he says, “It scares me to call that activism because it seems more like a certain condemnation and a certain judgment that ironically flies in the face of democracy itself.”

Wills sees a lynch mob mentality on both the left and the right when they try to use social media to shame people.

Just last week, Google was at the center of another social media storm when a memo by a company employee critical of diversity efforts at the company went viral. When Google fired the employee, websites on the right, critical of the company’s actions, released names of Google employees. Those employees were then harassed online.

… it seems more like a certain condemnation and a certain judgment that ironically flies in the face of democracy itself.“

David Clinton Wills, a visiting professor at NYU, on how anti-racist activists are using Twitter

For Wills, the historical parallel is Nazi Germany, in which the Third Reich encouraged citizens to name people they thought were enemies of the state. "When that became a power that your neighbor could execute or your neighbor could use against other people, the power became unchecked,” he says.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

A Grim And Gruesome History Of Public Shaming In London: Part 1:

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Confirmed criminals were thus clamped in a position of acute and pitiful vulnerability in full view of the jeering mob to whom they proved irresistible targets and who were at liberty — encouraged, even — to chuck whatever they could get their hands on; clumps of earth, rotten eggs, cucumbers, turnips, offal and in their less charitable moments dead cats, paving stones, shards of glass and bricks at the victim’s head. The stakes were high; an unlucky few died in the pillory (around 10 in the course of the 18th century, according to the historian Robert Shoemaker). Aside from sodomites who fared particularly badly, no creature was more despised than false-accusers who, for reward money, swore robberies against innocent parties. John Valler stood the pillory for just that in June 1732 and a pamphlet gleefully described how ‘the mob began to pelt him with cabbage, cauliflowers and artichoke stalks …[then] they pulled down the pillory, by which the skull of this unhappy wretch was fractured’. Still not satisfied, ‘as he lay on the ground, they stamped so hard upon his body that they broke his ribs’. He was dead within the hour. This had not been the authorities’ intention; two members of the crowd were convicted of his murder three months later.

Yet the crowd could be forgiving; sympathetic even, especially when they felt the defendant had been treated unfairly.

A pamphlet gleefully described how ‘the mob began to pelt him with cabbage, cauliflowers and artichoke stalks…

Famously, when Daniel Defoe was pilloried in 1703 after publishing a faux-bigoted rant against religious dissenters (of which he was one) on the orders of the pro-dissenter, irony-deaf whig government, the only thing anyone threw at him was flowers, while the very pamphlet itself was casually sold by his supporters. And in June 1763, the Post Boy reported how the crowd reacted to two elderly men in the New Palace Yard pillory for attempted buggery — ‘their tears, which flowed in great abundance, drew such compassion, that they treated them with the greatest lenity, and some money was collected for them’.

The most interactive and democratic of all of old London’s shaming rituals, audience responses could damage, destroy or save someone’s reputation or, in rare cases, kill them; in 1509, three pilloried offenders are recorded as ‘dying of shame’ — could they have been driven to suicide, like victims of online trolling in extreme cases?

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media:

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Shaming, it seems, has become a core competency of the Internet, and it’s one that can destroy both lives and livelihoods. But the question of who’s responsible for the destruction — the person engaging in the behavior or the person revealing it — depends on whom you ask. At its best, social media has given a voice to the disenfranchised, allowing them to bypass the gatekeepers of power and publicize injustices that might otherwise remain invisible. At its worst, it’s a weapon of mass reputation destruction, capable of amplifying slander, bullying, and casual idiocy on a scale never before possible.

The fundamental problem is that many shamers, like Richards, don’t fully grasp the power of the medium. It’s a problem that lots of us need to reckon with: There are millions of Twitter accounts with more than 1,000 followers, and millions on Facebook with more than 500 friends. The owners of those accounts might think they’re just regular people, whispering to a small social circle. But in fact they’re talking through megaphones that can easily be turned up to a volume the entire world can hear.

Increasingly, our failure to grasp our online power has become a liability — personally, professionally, and morally. We need to think twice before we unleash it.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Listening to shame | Brené Brown

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

The Five Stages of an Internet Shaming:

Here we go again. Somebody’s accidentally let the infernal swamp of badness that exists inside of their soul bubble to the surface, where it’s eked noxious ooze out and into the slipstream of the internet. Oops! They’ve done a racist tweet, a homophobic Facebook rant, an ableist Snapchat story, and now everybody knows what a bad person they are. People who previously had no idea they existed are now flooding their mentions with four-letter words and death threats. This is an internet shaming – an online pants-down – and it is only going to get worse.

Yesterday, it was the turn of south London artist Hetty Douglas. Before last night she was only known to a small circle of art students for work which basically amounts to blobs of paint with phrases like “ur fit do u wanna finger my m8” written over them. Now, since a tweet featuring a problematic comment Douglas made on Instagram went viral, every bored student and Sun-reader in the UK wants her blood.

So what can she expect from the coming days? What have we learnt from the internet shamings of old? With every passing scandal the internet has become a leaner, more efficient ignominy engine, obliterating careers in record times. But how? Pray silence, and mute your notifications, as we consider the five stages of an internet shaming.

STEP 1: The Call Out

STEP 2: The Storm

STEP 3: The Disappearance

STEP 4: The Statement

STEP 5: The Legacy

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Adaptive and Maladaptive Shame:

The bottom line is that humans come equipped with the potential to experience shame for good reason. Tempered, situationally-based shame and self-blame can functionally guide us toward humility, foster learning, and be socially sensitive. However, when shame and self-blame are characterological, there is a cancer at one’s core sense of self, perhaps hidden, but eating away in a destructive manner.

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

There’s an Evolutionary Reason Humans Developed the Ability to Feel Shame:

In order to be treated well, others in your community had to value you enough to protect you, share food with you, and help take care of your children. If they found out you were diseased, physically weak, stealing stuff, acting sexually out of the mainstream, etc., they might not deem you worthy of their help — they would “devalue” you.

As far as biologists can tell, organisms on this planet have one job: to make more of ourselves before we die. The behaviors that go along with that — finding food, selecting mates, figuring out how to not die today — are all just ways we all support this one biological imperative.

But from there, things get complicated. It’s pretty clear, for instance, why a cheetah would have evolved lightning speed. But why would a panda, who at one point evolved the gut of a carnivore, sit around eating bamboo all day? And it’s fairly obvious how living in cooperative social groups has helped humans claw their way to the top of the pile, but a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looks at why we evolved one human behavior — feeling shame — that, at first glance, seems to do us more harm than than good.

Shame doesn’t make intuitive sense. It causes pain — a feeling usually reserved for helping us avoid damaging our physical body tissue — and often makes us act against our own best interests. Shame is an emotion responsible for the lies we tell, the paranoia and depression we feel, and can sometimes lead to dramatically self-damaging behavior.

But researchers at University of California Santa Barbara claim to have discovered an evolutionary root of human shame, and argue that it’s necessary for the complex navigation required by living in a tight-knit community.

“Our human ancestors in the African savanna lived in a world without nation states, a police force, supermarkets, social security or savings accounts,” says study lead author Dr. Daniel Sznycer, of the UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Evolutionary Psychology. “Because of this, your reputation was even more important 100,000 years ago than it is today.”

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame

An activist, a little girl and the heartbreaking origin of ‘Me too’:

Burke is the program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity. Its goal is to empower young women of color.

But the seeds for the movement were planted earlier than that – in 1996, when Burke was a youth camp director.

After an all-girl bonding session, a young girl asked to speak to Burke privately.

This is how she describes the encounter on the Just Be site:

“For the next several minutes this child … struggled to tell me about her ‘stepdaddy’ or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body. … I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore … which turned out to be less than five minutes. Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could ‘help her better.’ ”

Burke said she never forgot the look on the girl’s face.

“The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again – it was all on her face,” she wrote.

“I couldn’t help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured. …

"I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper … me too.”

Digital Human, Series 12, Episode 6 – Shame